Nationally recognized author to speak at USD

Nationally recognized author to speak at USD Nationally recognized author Rachel Simmons will discuss her best-selling book Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, at The University of South Dakota.

Simmons, an independent scholar and national trainer for the Ophelia Project, will speak on female aggression and respect for self and others. The event, which is scheduled for Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. in Old Main, is free and open to the public.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Odd Girl Out helped inspire a wrenching and unprecedented nationwide discussion on the subject of girls and bullying. Simmons' book has also been featured in a New York Times Magazine cover story titled "Girls Just Want to be Mean."

Through interviews with more than 300 girls in 10 schools, as well as 50 women who experienced alternative aggression when they were young, Simmons offers a detailed portrait of girls' bullying.

Odd Girl Out relates the intricate social circles of girls and the ways in which they can manipulate and scheme to wield power or seek revenge.

"Unlike boys, who tend to bully acquaintances or strangers, girls frequently attack within tightly knit friendship networks, making aggression harder to identify and intensifying the damage to the victims," Simmons writes. "Within the hidden culture of aggression, girls fight with body language and relationships instead of fists and knives. In this world, friendship is a weapon, and the sting of a shout pales in comparison to a day of someone's silence. There is no gesture more devastating than the back turning away."

The Vermillion campus event is sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Education & Action Program (IdEA), the Honors Program, the Bush Grant for Faculty Development and Program Council at USD.

Simmons grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, and graduated from Vassar College, where she double majored in women's studies and political science. Following graduation she worked for Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani as an Urban Fellow.

Recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship in 1997, she worked for New York's Senior Sen. Charles E. Schumer as deputy finance director for his U.S. Senate campaign in 1998, and after the election attended Oxford University, where she began studying female aggression.

Simmons is currently the director of The Girls' Leadership Institute, a Sidwell Friends summer program, and a consultant to schools all over the country. She has been featured on Oprah, the Today Show, Dateline, and NPR's Talk of the Nation.

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