So in the interest of full disclosure I will start out by saying that the author of this book is someone who interviewed me for a feature on her blog. I already completed the interview prior to reading the book and writing this review.
Onto the review:
Women Behaving Badly is not written as a research piece nor is it steeped in clinical jargon. The author does not make it out to be more than it is. It’s a book about how women view and manage relationships with other women. It is written from a female perspective.
Hint: it’s not rosy.
Women Behaving Badly is effective in tackling the taboo issues we are all aware of and hear about regarding female relationships. The author is not beholden to a politically correct body that requires her to be careful or modulated in her description of the problem. Her language is plain and understandable; it feels more like a conversation than a book. It was surprising how well it connects to the emotion, language and impact that many of the female teens I work with express when discussing these issues in session. It has great potential in validating and normalizing the events that many female survivors of bullying experience.
The author identifies several key areas she feels are problematic in female relationships; providing a framework of behaviors that seeks to define the broader issue. Each chapter ends with examples provided by the author and other women that vivify the nature of the behaviors and their impact. The section would have been excellent if the author used research or established theory to support her understanding. While the book was not written for professionals or academics, you’re left wanting that sort of thing given the nature of the opinions presented.
The last part of the book provides a real world understanding of what to look for before investing trust in relationships. It can also act a useful method of self assessment.
The book leaves itself open to criticism from those who identify as feminists and I think it does so unnecessarily . The book gives the impression that most female relationships are pathological; whether that’s the authors goal is unclear. I have a hard time matching that with my experience as a therapist and as someone who is married to a woman who has very good friends. My second criticism is that the comparisons made in the book between female relationships and male relationships seem quite polarized and unrealistic.
So, should you buy it? I think so. Women Behaving Badly is a very honest, thought provoking and authentically written book. It is very plausible and matches up quite well when describing the profile of female bullying behaviors along with the tactics and thinking behind them. It can act as an excellent resource for parents of young women, young women and women experiencing bullying behaviors. I think most older adolescent females would benefit from reading it as a “how to” manual on identifying and avoiding these types of relationships.