Views on Girlhood

Topics: Violence, Family, Aggression Pages: 6 (2148 words) Published: October 14, 2007
In modern society various people partake in acts of aggression and violence. Regardless of age or gender, expressing aggression and participating in violent actions are frequent obscenities in many cultures today. In the documentary Girlhood, Liz Garbus follows two young women who have encountered numerous misfortunes in the past that led them to implement their violent offences. Both girls work towards their freedom from the rehabilitation center in Baltimore, Maryland and finally become productive members of society. The movie comes to an end with one of the girls, Shanae, after much perseverance, overcoming her appalling behaviours and graduate from high school. Megan, the other young offender continues to practise delinquent behaviours and struggle with her goals in life. Their lives were substantially different having unalike motivations and drawbacks to becoming who and where they were in the end of the film. Psychologists, anthropologists and sociologists would view each of their cases in separate ways, in order to uncover the explanation to why they performed such vicious acts and what led to their rehabilitation or lack there of.

Psychologists have unique methods for determining a cause of a certain violent behaviour or outburst. They examine the specific cases and study how assorted theories apply to them. As well, psychologists review significant past experiences in the person's life that would help to better understand the behaviours and outcomes of that person. A psychologist would examine the theory of frustration-aggression. This theory purposes the belief that aggression occurs because of an experience of frustration and the inability to achieve a certain goal. In Shanae's case, the girl she stabbed and Shanae had a constant battle occurring between them for quite sometime. There was a complex frustration linked in their friendship, that caused Shanae to retaliate, which led to the girl's death. Another theory, displacement, which involves the redirection of aggression that was established by Dollard in 1939, would be applied to the girls' cases. A psychologist would assume Shanae may have murdered her friend as a retaliation of frustration towards other areas in her life, such as her mother's constant absence because of the two jobs she worked in order to financially care for the family. Also, Shanae may of expressed displacement, from the time she was eleven, when she was raped by 5 boys, she knew and who were never arrested. In comparison, Megan's situation was similar as she may have committed 1st and 2nd degree assault and assault with a weapon as a way of expressing the frustration she suffered because of her mother's absence, as well. However, her mother was away periodically since Megan was seven, doing drugs, participating in prostitution or being in jail. Psychologists would also examine Shanae's and Megan's prior experiences as a way to explain their personalities and to explain why they acted in violent manners. Shanae took drugs, drank alcohol and had sex at an early age. She first has sex and drank alcohol at 10 years old. At eleven she was raped by five boys, and had two abortions. This trauma that a young girl should never experience may have influenced her personality and increased her aggression which caused her to stab her friend to death. Megan's past significant experiences were unrelated to Shanae's. Megan did not speak of rape in her past, however, she lived in eleven foster homes because of her mother's absence and her grandmother's inability to take care of her. In a psychologist's point of view, each of these girls' prior frustrations and prior experiences explain their violent acts.

Along with explaining Shanae and Megan's offences, psychologists would also tackle the question: what factors led to the different outcomes for both girls? Each girl had a drastically different outcome: Shanae ended up living in stable household, graduated high school, and was attending...
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