Girl Problem Female Sexual Delinquency in New York, 1900-1930
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Description: During the Progressive Era, young working-class women were sometimes jailed for engaging in social and sexual activities that signaled their rejection of Victorian moral standards. These disadvantaged "delinquents" were subject to legal sanctions that were rarely applied to rebellious middle-class girls. As she traces the history of a social crisis that came to be known as the "girl problem", Ruth M. Alexander reconstructs the stories of individual women incarcerated in reformatories who helped redefine female adolescence in the United States. Alexander draws on the rich case files of reformatories at Bedford Hills and Albion, New York. Bringing together writings by the young inmates, letters from their parents, and institutional records, she follows the histories of a hundred girls as they run afoul of the law, are incarcerated, and struggle to reenter society. From the interplay among girls, families, courts, and penal institutions emerges a fascinating picture of class inequality and culture conflict. Alexander finds that most delinquent young women eventually accepted the idea that freedom was best won by conformity and accommodation. In showing how a new social problem was identified and tackled, Alexander also documents the emergence of the modern professions of social work and mental hygiene. Reenacting a key chapter in the transformation of adolescence, The "Girl Problem" contributes to the history of sexuality and social reform through the Progressive Era and beyond.
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List price: $29.95
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 8/6/1998
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
|Introduction: A New Adolescent Female|
|"Going Around with a Bad Crowd of Girls": Young Women and the Lure of City Streets|
|"The Confusion of Standard among Adolescent Girls": Reformers Confront the Girl Problem|
|"Every Minute Is to Me like Eternity": Inmates at Albion and Bedford Hills|
|"I Live in Hopes of Her Come from There a Better Daughter": Families and the Reformatories|
|"I've Chosen a New Road to Travel": The Challenges of Parole|
|Conclusion: The Social Inequities of Female Adolescence|