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The experience of loss of voice in adolescent girls


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The experience of loss of voice in adolescent girls an existential-phenomenological study
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Cihonski, Deborah Ann
University of South Florida
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relational aggression
ideal girl
imaginary audience
Dissertations, Academic -- School Psychology -- Masters -- USF   ( lcsh )
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ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to examine the meaning of the Loss of Voice experience in adolescent girls using an existential-phenomenological interview approach. An open-ended interview was conducted and participants were asked to "Please think of a specific time when you had something important to say, but did not say it. In as much detail as possible, describe that experience."Each interview was tape-recorded, transcribed by the investigator, and then independently thematized (Jones, 1984) by the author and a doctoral colleague trained in Jones' (1984) analysis method. Interrater reliability of the themes reached 96% agreement for the overall sample. Individual transcription reliabilities ranged between 85-98%. Thematic analysis revealed six superordinate themes and four subthemes. The superordinate themes were Difficult Position, Feeling, Might Explode, Not Worth It, Who Am I?, and Nevermind.The subthemes So Much To Lose and Strong were part of superordinate theme Difficult Position. The subthemes Emotion and Physical were part of the superordinate theme Feeling. Analysis of these themes in their totality suggested a complex meaning structure of co-researchers Loss of Voice experiences. This research supports and expands the current literature on Loss of Voice by providing a more in-depth study of the meaning contained in a Loss of Voice experience. Directions for future research efforts, intervention, and prevention education are discussed.
Thesis (Ed.S.)--University of South Florida, 2003.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Deborah Ann Cihonski.
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The experience of loss of voice in adolescent girls
h [electronic resource]
an existential-phenomenological study /
by Deborah Ann Cihonski.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
Thesis (Ed.S.)--University of South Florida, 2003.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages;
Includes bibliographical references.
ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to examine the meaning of the Loss of Voice experience in adolescent girls using an existential-phenomenological interview approach. An open-ended interview was conducted and participants were asked to "Please think of a specific time when you had something important to say, but did not say it. In as much detail as possible, describe that experience."Each interview was tape-recorded, transcribed by the investigator, and then independently thematized (Jones, 1984) by the author and a doctoral colleague trained in Jones' (1984) analysis method. Interrater reliability of the themes reached 96% agreement for the overall sample. Individual transcription reliabilities ranged between 85-98%. Thematic analysis revealed six superordinate themes and four subthemes. The superordinate themes were Difficult Position, Feeling, Might Explode, Not Worth It, Who Am I?, and Nevermind.The subthemes So Much To Lose and Strong were part of superordinate theme Difficult Position. The subthemes Emotion and Physical were part of the superordinate theme Feeling. Analysis of these themes in their totality suggested a complex meaning structure of co-researchers Loss of Voice experiences. This research supports and expands the current literature on Loss of Voice by providing a more in-depth study of the meaning contained in a Loss of Voice experience. Directions for future research efforts, intervention, and prevention education are discussed.
Adviser: Kimmel, Ellen
relational aggression.
ideal girl.
imaginary audience.
0 690
Dissertations, Academic
x School Psychology
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.


1 THE EXPERIENCE OF LOSS OF VO ICE IN ADOLESCENT GIRLS: AN EXISTENTIAL-PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY by DEBORAH A. CIHONSKI A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Education Specialist Department of Psychological and Social Foundations College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Ellen Kimmel, Ph.D. Linda Raffaele-Mendez, Ph.D. Robert Dedrick, Ph.D. Date of Approval: May 22, 2003 Keywords: phenomenology, authen tic voice, silencing, silenced, depression, school Copyright 2003, Deborah A. Cihonski


i Table of Contents List of Tables iv List of Figures v Abstract vi Chapter I. Introduction 1 Contradictory Messages and Loss of Voice 1 School and Society: Girls’ Choices and Opportunities 3 The Study of Loss of Voice 5 Need for Existential-Phenom enological Approach 6 Purpose and Description of Study 7 Research Question 8 Key Term 8 Chapter II. Review of the Literature 9 Voice and Its Loss 10 Definition of Voice 10 More Than One Voice 10 Adolescent Girls and the Loss of Ordinary Courage 13 The Ideal Girl 14 Peers and Adults Silencing Girls and Self-silencing 17 Costs of the Loss of Voice 22 Sacrificing the Self 22 Relationship Losses 24 Societal Losses 26 Study of Loss of Voice 28 Research Methods Used to Study Loss of Voice 28 Interview Studies 30 Existential-Phenomenology 34 Existential-Phenomenology and the Experience of Loss of Voice 37 Chapter Summary 38 Chapter III. Method 41 Design 41 Co-Researchers 42


ii Sample size 43 Selection 44 Researcher 45 Instrument 46 Procedure 47 Bracketing interview 47 Pilot study 47 Interviews 48 Data Analysis 50 Thematic analysis 50 Reliability 51 Chapter IV. Results 52 Context of the Reported Experiences 52 Thematic Analysis 54 Difficult Position 54 So Much to Lose 56 Strong 58 Feeling 61 Emotion 61 Physical 64 Might Explode 66 Not Worth It 67 Who Am I? 68 Nevermind 69 Chapter V. Discussion 73 Context and Demographic Impressions 74 Extracted Themes 75 Difficult Position 75 Feeling 77 Might Explode 78 Not Worth It 78 Who Am I? 79 Nevermind 80 Structure and Meaning 81 Journals 84 Limitations 85 Future Directions, Purpose, and Summary 86 References 91


iii Appendices 100 Appendix A. Research Question 101 Appendix B. Demographic Data Sheet 102 Appendix C. Parent/Child Consent/Assent Form 103 Appendix D. Field Notes 106 Appendix E. Thematic Analysis 108 About the Author End Page


iv List of Tables Table 1 Demographic Data 43 Table 2 Context of the Lo ss of Voice Experience 54


v List of Figures Figure 1 Theme of Difficult Position with Subthemes 61 So Much To Lose and Strong Figure 2 Theme of Feeling and Subthemes Emotion 67 and Physical Encircling and in Relation to Difficult Position. Theme of Might Explode in Relation to Difficult Position and Feeling. Figure 3 Theme of Not Worth It in Relation to Difficult 68 Position, Feeling, and Might Explode Figure 4 Theme of Who Am I? in Relation to Difficult 69 Position, Feeling, Might Explode, and Not Worth It Figure 5 Theme of Nevermin d Completing the Meaning 71 Structure of Loss of Voice


vi The Experience of Loss of Voice in Adolescent Girls: An Existential-Phenomenological Study Deborah Cihonski ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to examine the meaning of the Loss of Voice experience in adolescent girls using an existentialphenomenological interview approach An open-ended interview was conducted and participants were aske d to “Please think of a specific time when you had something important to say, but did not say it. In as much detail as possible, describe that experience.” Each interview was tape-recorded, transcribed by the investigator, and then independently thematized (Jones, 1984) by the author and a doctoral colleague trained in Jones’ (1984) analysis method. Interrater reliability of the themes reache d 96% agreement for the overall sample. Individual transcription reliabilities ranged between 85-98%. Thematic analysis revealed six superordinate themes and four subthemes. The superordinate themes were Difficult Position, Feeling, Might Explode, Not Worth It, Who Am I?, and Nevermind. The subthemes So Much To Lose and Stro ng were part of superordinate theme Difficult Position. The subt hemes Emotion and Physical were part of the superordinate theme Feelin g. Analysis of these themes in


vii their totality suggested a complex me aning structure of co-researchers Loss of Voice experiences. This research supports and expands the current literature on Loss of Voice by providing a more in-depth study of the meaning contained in a Loss of Voice experience. Directions for future research efforts, intervent ion, and prevention education are discussed.


1 Chapter I. Introduction “Eleven-year-olds cannot be bo ught,” said Brown and Gilligan (1992), “They are articulate, resource ful and know their own minds.” But age eleven seems to be the last year that many girls are in charge of their feelings and voice. As girls move into adolescence, their relationships often become charac terized by disassociation and disconnection from themselves and ot hers (Brown & Gilligan, 1992). As these girls move into womanh ood, they often do not remember, tend to forget, or even cover up what they experienced and knew as girls. Contradictory Messages and Loss of Voice Adolescent girls receive contradictory expectations from different aspects of their lives: parents, teachers, peers, the media, and themselves. “They are to be sexy an d flirtatious but at the same time remain ‘good girls’. They are to fend off aggressive male attention while simultaneously meeting teache rs’ expectations of nonaggressive behavior. Females are to put domestic life first at the same time that they prepare for financial indepe ndence” (AAUW, 1996, p.2). Girls struggle with these conflicting message s, trying to figure out who to


2 please in their everyday lives (B rown & Gilligan, 1992). While many girls, especially those of lower socio-economic status, have adult responsibilities such as cleaning, cooking, and caring for younger children, they are discouraged fr om speaking up at school and claiming this same type of auth ority (Leadbetter & Way, 1996). During adolescence, as girls ma ture physically, they become suspended in a sort of limbo, caught between childhood and womanhood. “Girls become look ed at, talked about and judged against standards of perfection and ideals of relationship” (Brown & Gilligan, 1992, p. 164). Rosenbaum (1993) asked girls what they would “magically” change about them selves if they could. Most teenage girls responded that they wa nted to “lose weight and keep it off, [have] blonder hair and bluer eyes, and a perfect figure...” all drawing the girl closer to our soci ety’s stereotypes of ideal female beauty as portrayed by Miss Amer ica and the models in women’s magazines which the girls frequently consulted for guidance (p. 71). As a part of this struggle wi th conflicting messages about feminine behavior and appearance, ma ny girls stop stating their true and honest feelings and emotions. Th ey give up this authentic voice in favor of an acceptable voice that is proper, pleasing, quiet, and nice; a voice that lacks strong opinions or true thoughts and feelings. When girls give up their voices -when they patrol their own feelings and


3 responses so people will like or appr ove of them -– girls remove their true selves from their relationships. Girls enter into caricatures of what they have been taught of how to behave in that particular relationship. As they please others they adopt a submissive or false female role that has been perp etuated by popular culture and schooling, teaching girls that women should not be too assertive, too loud, or too domineering (Mazarella & Pecora, 1999). Girls are often passive in their relationships beca use “speaking up can be dangerous and disruptive. Girls recognize a ll too well the potential loss of relationship if they do say what they feel and think too forcefully or too directly” (Brown & Gilligan, p.164). As a result of the women’s movement, adolescent female problems such as body image dissa tisfaction, sexual harassment, and date rape have been attended to recently in academic publications and the popular media. Unlike these issu es, Loss of Voice has rarely been studied or, in many cases, even labeled as problematic. School and Society: Girls’ Choices and Opportunities By conforming to stereotyped acce ptable female behaviors, girls are often limited in their choices an d opportunities. Liedel (1992) said that, “By stereotyping women’s roles, popular culture plays a role in shortchanging girls by limiting their horizons and expectation. Unintentionally, schools sometimes follow suit, depriving girls of


4 classroom attention, ignoring the value of cooperative learning, and presenting texts and lessons in which female role models are conspicuously absent” (p. X). Adole scent girls may have aspirations of being involved in a typically “maleoriented” career, yet they often are denied guidance in support of th ese pursuits from their school’s “hidden curriculum” (Sadker, Sadker, Fox, & Salata, 1993). Schools often, even if unintentio nally, set lower expectations for girls (Chapman, 1997) and further silence them while perpetuating gender role stereotypes in many wa ys. For example, girls are often not called on in the classroom while boys speak out (Sadker & Sadker, 1985), women rarely are portrayed as famous scientists (Potter & Rosser, 1992) or musici ans (Koza, 1994), or seen in textbooks in general (Corfield, 1999; Mann, 1994; Sadker et al., 1994). Further, girls, as compared to boys, are gi ven less constructive feedback for classroom comments (Sadker & Sadker, 1984) and receive lower expectations (Stein, 2000), none of which will help girls excel in school. Research documents that adol escent females, undergoing pubertal change, are most vulnerable to the loss of voice phenomenon (Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Orenstein, 1994; Pipher, 1994). While this age group has been investigated fr equently, often using quantitative approaches, the nature and essence of adolescent girls’ loss of voice


5 experience remains largely unknown. This study will attempt to remedy this gap in the knowledge ba se by asking girls who have had the experience of loss of voice to describe it in their own words. The Study of Loss of Voice Loss of Voice can be described as an experience when a person has something she or he feels is impo rtant to say but does not say it. Often this refusal to speak one’s mind is linked to feelings of inadequacy, fear of rejection, or fear of humiliation (Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Orenstein, 1994; Pipher, 1994). The loss of voice has been studied using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Those studies using quantitative methods such as surveys allow researchers to examine many factors related to loss of voice, such as depression, self-esteem, and masculi ne/feminine gender role beliefs (Smolak & Munstertieger, 2002). Such studies fail, however, to allow participants to explore and di scuss freely their Loss of Voice experience by describing its acco mpanying emotions, feelings, and cognitions. Efforts to understand the loss of voice experience using qualitative methods such as inte rviews are presently limited by a number of factors. These include: (1) the descriptive data about the loss of voice are often brief and seco ndary to the primary focus of the study, (2) the interviews are structured in such a way that participants


6 may not be free to articulate their ex periences, outside of a prescribed set of questions, or (3) the study focused on factors that may “cause” a loss of voice rather than focusing on the nature of the experience itself. While these research data are va luable in provid ing information about the loss of voice experience, they fail to tell us about the meaning of loss of voice for adolescent girls. It is known that loss of voice is prevalent in adolescent females, but little is really known about the specific cognitions and em otions that make up this lived experience. Specifically, what is the essence of the Loss of Voice experience? To examine this more fully, this investigator selected a method in which a rich description of the experience could be captured. Need for Existential-Phen omenological Approach As mentioned previously, th e thoughts and emotions of adolescent girls experiencing a Lo ss of Voice are poorly understood. The research herein provides insi ght into the nature and essential meaning of the loss of voice experience. The Existential-Phenomenolog ical method allowed for the extraction of emotional information (i.e., from the words of the study participants, also known as co-researc hers) from within the individual’s “lived experience” (Valle, King, & Halling, 1989) and required the


7 researcher to move beyond an obje ctive interpretation of the data (Holstein & Gubrium, 1994). Further, by studying the data within the framework of the lived experience, or contextualizing, the researcher was better able to understand the meaning of the experience itself rather than relying on conjecture. In summary, this rese arch explores the emotions, thoughts, and feelings of adolesce nt girls’ Loss of Voice using the existential-phenomenological method. Through the use of this method, a clearer picture of the experience of lo ss of voice, within the context of our present cu lture, was obtained. Purpose and Description of Study The purpose of this study is to de scribe the experience of Loss of Voice in adolescent girls. To do this, co-researchers were asked, “Please think of a specific time wh en you had something important to say, but did not say it. In as much detail as possible, describe that experience.” Analysis of the tape -recorded answers yielded data that expanded the understanding of Loss of Voice experienced by many adolescent girls, filling a gap d eemed worthy of study by many researchers (e.g., Brown & Gilligan 1992; Pipher, 1994; Orenstein, 1994). Further, possible directions for intervention (i.e., linking the co-researchers’ words to suggestions for educational reform and self-


8 awareness training) emerged, sugg esting new research avenues and relevant implications for education. Research Question What is the experience of loss of voice? Key Term Co-researcher The title given to each of the girls, aged 12-16 years, participating in this study.


9 Chapter II. Review of the Literature This review of the literature is divided into three sections. The first section, Voice and Its Loss, ex amines the research that defines the concept of “voice”, explores so cietal definitions of the “perfect” girl, and discusses methods used by adults, peers, and society to silence girls. Also discussed is the literature on different roles adolescent girls fulfill in relationship s with adults and peers. Section Two, Costs of the Loss of Voice, re views the literature on the personal costs to girls and to society wh en adolescents, knowingly or unknowingly, give up their voice. Further, this section explores studies on girls’ thoughts and fee lings about the factors that led to their loss of voice and the impact of this loss on their lives and the lives of others. The final section, Study of Loss of Voice -Research Methods and Results, reviews methods used in past st udies on the loss of voice, as well as presents a descr iption of, and justification for, the use of the Existential Phenomenol ogical approach in this study examining the phenomenon of loss of voice.


10 Voice and Its Loss Definition of voice. Rogers (1993), in a study exploring voice and courage in the lives of girls and women, refers to the “ordinary courage” of adolescent girls as th eir ability to speak authentically, “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart”. Most pre-adolescent girls show a strong sense of self and an ability to know and voice their thoughts and feelings (Taylor, G illigan, & Sullivan, 1995, p. 23). The Harvard Project on Women's Psyc hology and Girls' Development investigated this authentic voice of girls and referred to it as the “resistant voice” or the voice th at expresses “honest thoughts and feelings” (Brown & Gilligan, 1992). More than one voice. The lives of adolescent girls are characterized by the existence of many different voices. Gilligan (1982, 1986, 1987) and her colle agues (Gilligan & Attanucci, 1988; Gilligan, Brown, & Rogers, 1990; G illigan, Ward, & Taylor, 1989) have studied these multiple voices within girls and stated that most girls speak in at least two different voic es. Further, girls switch between voices in their interactions with others (Brown, 1989; Johnston, 1989). Voices identified in the liter ature include the aforementioned authentic voice, that expresses a strong inner voice, pursues happiness, their goals, hopes and drea ms. Once adolescence is in full force, this inner, authentic voice is rarely shared with anyone, except


11 for a few people whom girls trust. Outside of these close and trusting interactions, girls use an “acceptabl e” voice – one that expresses what they assume others expect them to think and feel (Gilligan, Lyons, & Hanmer, 1990). This acceptable voice of girls is used to convey the thoughts, desires, beliefs, feelings attitudes, and behaviors believed by girls to conform to the values an d expectations of their culture and of significant people in their lives. This acceptable voice itself is multivocal, tailored for interactio ns with different people. For example, with boys, girls are likel y to use a proper voice without elements that will identify them as overly knowledgeable, opinionated, or sexually active – without appearin g prudish. Girls have a different acceptable voice with teachers, other adults, or people in positions of power. In the classroom, boys are typica lly given more time to answer questions than girls are and often re ceive more attention and feedback from teachers (e.g., AAUW, 1999). Further, research has shown that school responses play a crucial role in recasting potentially “unfeminine” girls’ behavior such as intellectual aggressiveness into stereotypically feminine and en couraged behaviors (AAUW, 1999, p.27). Girls in traditional learning environments will often be quiet rather than risk answering incorrectly or being made fun of or belittled for answering too well in front of pe ers. Individual researchers and


12 groups such as those in the Harvard Project have asked girls to speculate on why they rarely talk in school or why they will not share their true thoughts and feelings with others. As much as silence can be a barrier to success, many girls vi ew their silence as an advantage; if they do not understand school wo rk or have unacceptable feelings, no one will know, and they are spared negative judgments by others. Girls often retreat to silence in school and, when they do speak, their voices frequently lack confidence and assertiveness. As one study reported, “Fitting in often invo lves playing dumb, hiding their intelligence, and being quiet” (AAUW, 1999, p. 27). Brown and Gilligan (1992) tracked the progress of girls from first through fourth grade. Then fi fth grade, seventh grade, and tenth grade. They documented the gradua l loss of girls’ sense of self as they approached adolescence, a ti me when traditional expectations and feminine behaviors are emphasiz ed. These researchers found that, at this time, most girls began to sw itch from an authentic voice to an acceptable, or “perfect girl/nice girl” voice. As girls got older, they increasingly expressed the acceptab le voice (Brown & Gilligan, 1992). Pipher (1994) has argued that with puberty comes cultural pressure to split into more than one “self” (p.38). This pressure comes from places such as televisi on, magazines, schools, movies, and peers. The message is that, if girl s are true to themselves, they will


13 rejected by their peers and by soci ety. Most girls choose to be accepted socially and, as a result, split into two or more selves, one that is authentic and others that are culturally scripted. By adopting a false self, girls fail to accept their th oughts and feelings as their own. Only by dissociating and sending th eir voices underground, by failing to own and acknowledge inner voices of confusion, hurt, and protest, can girls cope with and process th e distortions surro unding them. The disconnections from the self are at the same time both adaptive and psychologically wounding. Beca use self-esteem is based on acceptance of the self, many girl s suffer enormous losses in esteem and confidence through disowning themselves (Pipher, 1994, p.38). Adolescent girls and the loss of ordinary courage Adolescence is a time of dramatic physical developm ent, a trigger for adults and peers to begin seriously attending to trad itional gender roles. Brumberg (1997), in a study about the developm ent of adolescent body image, stated that adolescence is often seen as a time of crisis for girls (1997, xxii). Brown and Gilligan (1992) claime d that one result of this crisis is that this ordinary courage, this resistant voice of girls, often goes underground. They found that during the teenage years girls stop stating their opinions or expressing their true beliefs, desires, feelings, and attitudes. The silencing of the self and loss of authentic voice have been recognized as a pervasi ve problem among adolescent girls


14 in Western culture (e.g., Spinazzola, 1999). The effects of this loss are far-reaching, often extending in to adulthood (Stern, 1990). For example, the loss of authentic voice has been linked with such things as weak identity development, depression, negative body image, and lower global self-esteem (Hart & Thompson, 1996). Further, it has been hypothesized that this loss of voice contributes to other problems such as teen pregnancy and school failure (Smolak & Munstertieger, 2002). Clearly, it is a phen omenon worthy of study. The ideal girl. Orenstein (1994) interviewed approximately 25 adolescent girls, both individually and in groups, as well as their parents and teachers, to collect th eir thoughts on issues affecting adolescent girls in school. Her inte rviewees came from two separate schools in different areas of the same town. The two schools were markedly different in the socio-economic and minority status of attending students. In Orenstei n’s (1994) interviews, she found among her sample a “time-honored no tion of the good girl: the girl who is nice before she is anything else – before she is vigorous, bright, even before she is honest” (p. 35). She goes on to define European femininity as grounded in delicacy, innocence, and an idealized helplessness (p. 159). The "ideal" girl is "calm, controlled, quiet," and "never cause(s) a ruckus (Walters, 1988 ) Brown and Gilligan (1990) talked about the “perfect girl”: “th e girl who has no bad thoughts or


15 feelings, the kind of person everyo ne wants to be with... who speaks quietly, calmly, who is always ni ce and kind and never mean or bossy.” In school, girls earn prai se for their exemplary passivity, getting reinforced for behaviors that become obstacles to later success (Orenstein, 1994, p.36) Mary Pipher (1994) analyzed inte rviews with 13 adolescent girls and concluded that girls discover that it is impossible to be both feminine and adult. Interestingly enough, these result s fit the classic findings of Broverman (1970). In the latter study, people were asked to check off characteristics of heal thy adults, healthy men, and healthy women. Healthy women were viewed as passive, illogical, and dependent while both healthy adults and healthy men were viewed as active, independent, and logical (p.39). Pipher’s interviews, conducted nearly 22 years later, showed that girls still seemed to buy into this view of typical, and therefore acceptable, female behavior. Pipher went on to contend that, while the rules for female behavior are confusing to girls, the punishment for breaking them is seen by girls to be nonetheless harsh. Girls who speak their minds are labeled as bitches by peers and some adults an d unattractive girls are scorned by all (p.39). An enormous body of literature ex ists exploring adolescent girls’ body image development. It has been well documented that the


16 Western definition for physical attractiveness in females favors excessive, and often unhealthy, thinness (Gil-Kashiwabara, 2002). Fouts and Burggraf (2000) argued that a combination of thinness modeling and vicarious punishment fo r being overweight contribute to the internalization of gender stereoty pes of weight in girls and women. In a media study examining body weight, negative comments, and audience reactions, Fouts and Burggraf (2000) showed that underweight females were overrepres ented in television sitcoms. Further, these sitcoms presented men making negative comments about heavier women’s bodies, reinforced by audience laughter. Women also are presented differen tly than men in the media and are often sexualized, portraying an unrealistic and impossible-toobtain body image. Crawford and Unger (2000) reported that female television characters are usually yo unger than male characters by an average of ten years. Further, Cr awford and Unger (2000) stated that women in 73% of all magazine ads were found to be decorative and sexualized while the number of women shown partially clad or nude has risen in recent years. Accordin g to a study by Kong (1997) on the portrayal of women in the media, 40% of the women in magazine ads are shown touching or caressing themselves. In music videos, women engaged in significantly more sexu al and subservient behavior than men (Sommers-Flanagan, Sommers-Flanagan, & Davis, 1993).


17 Even girls’ toys present unrea listic body images and often encourage premature sexualization. The Barbie Doll has been said to give children a warped perception of beauty and attractiveness (Assunta & Jallah, 1995). The probab ility that a human female would have the same proportions as Barb ie are about 1 in 100,000 while the odds of a man being built like Ken are 1 in 50 (Norton, Olds, Olive, & Dank, 1996). In summary, evidence has shown that girls receive an unclear and impossible-to-achieve image of the ideal female through the media, their peers, adults, and societ y. Trying to live up to a vague and unattainable standard -one th at tells girls to be smart but not too smart, painfully thin yet volupt uous, sexy but pristine -puts girls at risk for a wide variety of social and psychological problems. Girls, faced with such standards, often fi nd that the only smart and safe strategy is to dumb down and shut up. Peers and adults silencing girls and self-censorship Institutions and individuals in society reinforce the definition of femininity and acceptable behavior for girls in bo th subtle and obvious ways. Peers and adults of both genders reinforce feminine ideals and behaviors. In addition, women and girls model it fo r each other and themselves. Orenstein (1994) reported that girls monitor each others’ behaviors and keep a vigilant watch over each other and themselves.


18 Girls of all socio-economic, racial and ethnic classes reported that they had to be very careful with th eir behavior because other girls and boys would pass judgments on them, resulting in negative consequences. Girls reported conc ern about being branded as “sluts,” and gaining a ruined reputation (Ore nstein, 1994, p. 236). These girls reported that, while they did not like being called “schoolgirl,” being called “slut” was equally as bad. Th ey felt their behaviors had to fall into a narrow path between appearing too good and appearing “slutty.” Girls reward what is a cceptable, often reminding one another to be sweet and compliant. One of the girls interviewed by Orenstein (1994) stated that she wanted to be a lawyer. Her friend admonished her, reminding her that “sweet girls” like her make ineffective attorneys. The girl responded by saying that she was indeed “too cute” to be a lawyer (Orenstein, 1994, p. 35). In effect, this girl saw herself as too cute to be competent. Judy Mann (1994) cited a study showing that female babies at seven weeks of age are encouraged to smile and vocalize more than boys. Mann suggested that girls are taught from infancy to be pleasant and “to make the atmosphere around them pleasing” (Mann, 1994, p. 23). Teachers are more likely to describe females than males as “ideal” students (AAUW, 1991). One of Orenstein’s (1994)


19 interviewees reported that teachers li ke girls because they are quieter, nicer, and better behaved. Through the schooling process, girls are taught to be self-inhibiting, to beco me outsiders, passive observers, of the learning process rather than competent participants (Orenstein, 1994). While girls often speak of them selves in terms of their grit and independence, these qualities are rare ly displayed in the adolescent’s classroom (Orenstein, 1994). Even adults who hold gender eg alitarian values inadvertantly reinforce feminine ideals. For ex ample, a school counselor charged with helping girls talk about sexu al harassment at school completed a successful session with a group of girls. Following the session she offered them candy, adding “like we need to add to our rear ends!” (Orenstein, 1994, p.122) On the home-front, one well-intentioned father was reported to have inform ed his teenage daughter that he wanted her to be a “man’s woman” -one who would be able to please the man she was with (Orenstein, 1994, p. 90). The conventions of femininity and womanhood are complex with mixed messages coming from different sources (i.e., mothers versus fathers, teachers versus parents, TV and music personalities (Taylor, Gilligan, & Sullivan, 1995). The influenc e of adults on development of adolescent girls is apparent, but male adults and female adults influence girls in different ways. Men are often the accepted authority


20 figures in the home where girls ar e meant to be subordinate, even submissive (Taylor, Gilligan, & Su llivan, 1995, p.79). At the same time, fathers send the message to their daughters that girls are to be attractive, sexy, and “daddy’s perfect little girl.” Both men and women influence th e behavior of girls through reinforcement and punishment, bu t women also directly model acceptable behaviors, offering a visual display of appropriate or desirable behaviors for girls. Because girls perceive a similarity between themselves and wome n, women tend to hold a disproportionate amount of referent power over the development of adolescent girls as compared to men who are not able to model or teach directly in the same way as women. In support of this conclusion, direct evidence exists th at mothers serve as significant role models for girls, and are import ant sources of information and guidance, showing and te lling their daughters how they should feel, behave, and how their bodies measur e up (Usmiami & Daniluk, 1997). In their study, Usmiami and Danilu k (1997) explored the relationship between self-esteem, gender role identity, and body image for mothers and their adolescent daughter s. They found that, as mothers’ body image scores became more positive, so did their daughters. Further, a positive correlation was evident between mothers’ and


21 daughters’ levels of self esteem. Body image scores were positively correlated with self-esteem for both daughters and mothers. Indirect evidence has also shown that adolescent daughters more than sons are at greater risk for depressive disorders and symptoms when their mothers are depressed (Sheeber, Davis, & Hops, 2002). Song (2001), in a study of Korean women’s career choices and their relationships with their mothers, reviewed literature from the United States and abroad. She concluded that mothers play a crucial role as models and socia lizers and are highly influential in their daughters’ perceptions of themse lves and their sex-role attitudes. For example, women who model subservient roles pass along a negative self image to their daug hters due to shared gender. In summary, both the self, other individuals, and society reinforce behaviors in adolescent girls that are viewed as stereotypically feminine. Girls repo rt monitoring their own behavior with others so they will not gain a ruined reputation or be thought of as a know-it-all or stupid. Peers an d adults reinforce and punish, both directly and indirectly, behaviors seen as feminine or unfeminine. Girls receive mixed messages about feminini ty: to behave in a way that is neither too good nor too willful.


22 Costs of the Loss of Voice Sacrificing the self. The pressure placed on girls to shape themselves, both within and withou t, to comply with the dominant cultural ideals of womanhood and femininity, of “selflessness”, are enormous and pervasive (Gilligan, 198 2). Hart and Thompson (1996), in a study linking traditional gender role characteristics and higher rates of depression among women, stated that “silencing the self includes deferring to the needs of others, censoring self-expression, repressing anger, judging the se lf against a selfless ideal, and censoring experience to establis h and maintain safe, intimate relationships” (p. 409). Further, they stated that there is a genderspecific set of cognitive schema for appropriate behavior in intimate relationships. Research (e.g., McCabe, Ricciardelli, & Finemore, 2002; Pipher, 1994; Stern, 1990) has suggested that girls in early adolescence (1214 years of age) undergo a major deve lopmental transition in terms of gender-role identity, body image, an d psychological structure, often at great cost to themselves and societ y. Stern (1990) reviewed several studies showing that adolescent girls were more likely than boys to be depressed, have more negative se lf-appraisals, and poorer emotional well-being. In her study of adole scent girls and sense of self, Stern found that girls lose significant gro und in terms of confidence and self


23 esteem during adolescence. She fu rther added that “there are strong indicators that disavowing the self will be sustained into adulthood” (p.114). Usmiami and Daniluk ( 1997) studied the relationship between self-esteem, gender-role identity, and body image with mothers and their adolescent daughter s. They found that lower selfesteem made a significant contributi on to poor body image scores in both mothers and daughters. Many girls undergo a change in attributional style during adolescence; they begin not to trus t their own judgments and lose the ability to tolerate frustration with out becoming overwhelmed (Pipher, 1994). Pipher said that, when the girls in her research failed, they were more likely to attribute the failu re to internal factors such as a lack of ability. That is, they thou ght they were stupid and tended to give up while boys tend to attribute failure to external factors and stick with difficult problems and situatio ns. Just as bad, girls tended to attribute success to luck and extern al factors while boys were more likely to view successes as evidence of ability. Importantly, Pipher notes that recent research has shown that this gap between boys’ and girls’ attributional styles may be clos ing, with girls being more likely to attribute their successes to internal factors. Further, she noted that girls in her study had a tendency to become anxious when faced with difficult situations, which interfered with problem-solving skills, leading


24 to further failure and even more an xiety and self-doubt the next time around. Additionally, th is cycle of anxiety and failure can account for the withdrawal of many girls from math and science – keeping girls from wanting to be astronauts an d brain surgeons. According to Pipher (1994), many adolescent girls lose their resiliency, assertiveness, and optimism. They become less curious and energetic and less inclined to take risks. They are more deferential, self-critical and depressed (Pipher, 1994). Pipher observed that girls in her research were not able to say why th ey lost interest in their dreams and aspirations, they just reported their “mysterious” disappearance (p. 63). Relationship losses. Jack (1991) developed a theoretical model of self-silencing behavior in girls. She posited that women and girls organize their experiences according to their relationships with others. Gilligan and her Harvard Project co lleagues (1992) also believed that adolescent girls give up their voice and adopt an inauth entic faade of compliance and niceness to build and maintain relationships. Girls are socialized in traditional feminine roles that teach them to relinquish themselves. These traditional values espouse ideals such as likeability and self-sacrifice in order to make others comfortable and preserve relationships (Smolak & Munstert ieger, 2002). Ironically, the inauthentic self detracts from the qu ality of the very relationships girls


25 are seeking to build and protect. The spouse, friend, child, parent is relating to a hollow woman/girl, a faade, deprived of contact with the real person herself. The parado x here, said Brown and Gilligan (1992), is “the giving up relationship for the sake of Relationships” (p.7). When a girl's voice is s ilenced or compro mised, when she patrols her own responses and feelings so people will continue to like her, she removes herself from living in the relationship and enters into a caricature of what she's been taught a relationship should be. Hart and Thompson (1996) in a previously cite d study on the link between depressive symptoms and fe male gender roles, stated that depression in women and girls is related to the value they place on establishing and maintaining close re lationships. Jack and Dill (1992), in a study focusing on the effect of levels of intimacy in relationships and depression in women, noted th at characteristics such as overinvestment in relationships and over reliance on the opinions of others are associated with reduce d levels of well-being. Hagborg (1993) used Harter’s Self Perception Profile for Adolescents (SPPA) to explore the self concept of girls and boys. She noted gender differences in self-conce pt ratings, with females in this study rating themselves significantl y higher on close friendships and social acceptance than on phys ical appearance and athletic


26 competence, as compared to boys, further illustrating the importance many females place on relationships with others. Girls want to win the attention and affection of others and fear distancing themselves or being pe rceived as “different” from the assumed feminine standard. “Guys lik e it if you act all helpless and girly, so you do”, one of Orenstein’ s (1994) participants offered. As one girl stated, following particip ation in a classroom discussion, “Oh god, I hope I didn’t say something... that makes me different” (Orenstein, 1994, p. 100). Becca, a qu iet girl, said, “I don’t raise my hand in my classes because I am afraid I have the wrong answer and I’ll be embarrassed” (p. 11). Later in the interview process, she went on to say that she never talked in class unless she was “really, really, sure of an answer, and then some times not even then” (Orenstein, 1994, p. 89). Orenstein (1994) said that some girls take their silence so far that they will no t even cough in class. Societal losses. Society suffers serious losses when girls give up their voices and confidence, an d subsequently, chances for future achievement. As previously note d, Pipher (1994) found that most adolescent girls withdraw from part icipation in math and science -– keeping them from potential future careers as astronauts and brain surgeons. Indeed, while the overall math gap between boys and girls appears to be shrinking, this is only in lower level math. Girls are still


27 less well-represented in most higher -level courses in math, science, and computer science (AAUW, 1999, p.b12, 13). Since a lack of education is positively correlated with fewer life opportunities, it is apparent that girls’ lack of part icipation in higher-level technical courses will ultimately le ad to diminished opport unities later in life. Women lacking in education also te nd to be viewed as incompetent and incapable (Yoder, 2002, p. 213). Indeed, there is a significant under-representation of women in po litical and upper-level corporate positions, as well as in the fields of science and technology, thus depriving society of women’s creativi ty and leadership skills in these areas (Yoder, 2002). Finally, girls -– and all of society -are deprived of important role models, contributing to a continuation of this cycle. Further, a lack of education ge nerally leads to a lower future income. Indeed, there is a serious discrepancy in income levels of men and women in the workplace (Yoder, 2002). Women without the means to support themselves financ ially often become dependent on others for financial welfare, leaving them in poverty and vulnerable to abuse. Significantly, two out of every three poor women have been victims of domestic violence, with 25% of these experiencing violence within the past year, as compared to the lifetime average of 21%-34% among the general population of women (Yoder, 2002). A lack of education and subsequent lack of income puts women, and their


28 children, at serious risk. Societ y cannot possibly benefit from the abuse of a substantial number of its members who will then be unlikely to become productive citizens. Hall (2000), addressing the issue of domestic violence in families, stated that by not critica lly exploring in classrooms the issue of violence against women, schools become implicated in the silencing and “normalizing” of abuse. Ag ain, silencing has far-reaching implications of loss for girls, women, families, and society. Study of Loss of Voice Research methods used to study loss of voice. Both qualitative and quantitative methods provide important data toward understanding the phenomenon of lo ss of voice, although they differ methodologically. Quantitative research on the loss of voice in adolescent girls has traditionally focused on the compar ison of scores on standardized measures, such as self-esteem and de pression rating scales, especially by comparing male and female adolescents (Marshall & Arvay, 1999). Such studies have provided valuab le insight into the intensity, frequency, and prevalence of loss of voice as well as highlighting possible correlational factors. Survey studies are valuable in establishing the prevalence and possi ble determinants of loss of voice, but require the researcher to infer from the data the nature of the


29 experience. Although some of the more advanced quantitative techniques, such as structural eq uation modeling, allow for more powerful internal/causal statements to be made (Borg & Gall, 2001), the data gathered using such techniques do not permit the development of the meaning, essence, or structure of the lived loss of voice experience. However, research using qua litative methods, such as interviewing girls individually or in small focus groups, self-report surveys, or anecdotal evidence fr om therapists, is more common (Rogers, 1993) and yields incr eased detail about individual experiences. It also allows the fo rmation of hypotheses about possible causal forces. The interview method is the most frequently employed qualitative technique used in resear ch on loss of voice. Despite the time-intensive nature of interviews, they are fruitful sources of information (Seidman, 1991; Crow ther & Sherwood, 1997) and have been recommended by some research ers in the study of the loss of voice experience (e.g., Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Orenstein, 1994; Pipher, 1994). The present study uses an indi vidual interview technique, specifically the existential-phenom enology interview, to examine the Loss of Voice experience. Since this study uses an interview


30 technique, the following review will be limited to those studies using a qualitative interview technique approach to the study of loss of voice. Interview studies. Interview studies often present the actual language of the individual speakers ’ in answering questions about the loss of voice. Most of these studies are focused mainly on the antecedents to or consequences of the loss of voice. Some researchers chose a structured form at while others favor an openended interview technique; none could be located that used the existential-phenomenological appr oach with adolescent girls. Brown and Gilligan (1992) used a “relational method” of interviewing in which the listener/ interpreter is empathetic and responsive to the speaker. They stat ed that “by taking in the voice of another, we gain a sense of ent ry, an opening, a connection with another person’s psychic life” (p .28). From 1986-1990, Brown and Gilligan (1992) interviewed 1st, 4th, 7th, and 8th grade girls at a private school in Cleveland, Ohio. Before talking with the girls, the authors observed each girl in the classroom setting. Following ob servation, girls were interviewed using an open-ended format. An example of a typical exchange involved the investigators asking the girls to thin k of a time they were upset in class. When girls respon ded that they were sad or angry about such times as when they were not called on to talk in class, the


31 girls were further queried with prom pts such as, “Was there anything else you were thinking about?”, “So your decision was to walk out of the room. And do you think that was the right thing to do?”, and “Does the teacher know why yo u left the room?”. Brown and Gilligan (1992) interviewed the same group of girls over a four-year period and fo und that girls’ psychological development is “inherently traumatic. ” The authors present a powerful picture of loss in girls entering ad olescence, in terms of academics, relationships, self-esteem, vo ice, and sense of self. Brown and Gilligan’s (1992) data, while revealing important components of the loss of voice ph enomenon, fail to make known the essence or meaning of the experience of the loss itself. Further, Von Kaam (1969) stated that it is esse ntial that the co-researcher is able to express her personal emotions, thoughts, and feelings easily, allowing for a clear and detailed recollection. The 1st and 4th grade girls participating in this study ma y not have yet developed the ability to recall and articulate their experi ences as accurately as the older girls. Mary Pipher (1994) used an open-ended interview technique in her study of 13 adolescent girls. She analyzed the interviews and concluded that girls give up th eir voice in early adolescence, discovering it is impossible to be bo th feminine and adult. Pipher’s


32 interviews showed that girls still s eemed to buy into a view of the typical, and therefore acceptable, female as illogical and passive. Pipher’s (1994) research, while exam ining many variables correlated with the loss of voice, such as depression and self-esteem, did not explore the meaning of the loss of voice experience itself. Orenstein (1994) interviewed appr oximately 25 adolescent girls, both individually and in groups, as well as their parents and teachers, to collect their thoughts on issues a ffecting adolescent girls in school. Her interviewees came from two sepa rate schools in different areas of the same town. The two schools were markedly different in the socioeconomic and minority status of a ttending students. Using an openended interview format, Orenstein and her participants explored issues such as relationships with boys, parents and teachers not listening, appropriate and acceptable behavior fo r girls, and future orientation. Overwhelmingly, even girls who spok e of themselves with grit and independence were silent in the classroom, preferring to be silent than wrong and humiliated. Orenstein’s (1994) interviews yielde d a great deal of information about adolescent girls’ experiences in school, in relationships, and with silencing. The data from these in terviews, however, failed to explore or attempt to discover the very na ture and meaning of the loss of voice experience itself.


33 Marshall and Arvay (1999) interviewed 13 early adolescent students, both male and female, at a private Canadian school. The interviews were conducted using Brown and Gilligan’s relational method. Children were asked a seri es of eight questions about voice and silencing. The first question as ked the children if they had been silenced, or not listened to, by pers ons in authority and to tell what that experience was like. While bo th boys and girls reported feeling powerless, they interpreted the mean ing of the experience differently, with girls excusing and accepting the nonlistening behavior of adults. Further, the girls and boys were as ked to tell about a situation where they wanted to say something but did not say it. The children were asked if they were glad they did no t speak up or if they thought they should have spoken up Girls also focused on saying what they “should” say rather speaking thei r true thoughts and feelings and risking appearing uncaring or rude. Although this question appears similar to the question to be aske d of co-researchers in the present study, Marshall and Arvay (1999) were “interested in learning about situations in which the participants had lost their voices and what understanding they had gained ab out why this happened” (p.46). Further, this particular question about the loss of voice experience asked for only brief responses and was only one question among many asked during the interview session. The authors were not attempting


34 to understand the fundamental natu re and meaning of the loss of voice experience itself, rather they tr ied to identify situations, factors, and gender-specific reactions to the loss. In Marshal and Arvay’s (1999) st udy, the researchers followed a predetermined interview format th at may have been restrictive, limiting the respondents’ freedom to express themselves openly. This potential limitation likely impacted the study’s ability to reveal the very personal nature and meaning of the loss of voice experience. Further, the brief answers did not allow fo r elaboration on the meaning or essence of the experience. In summary, while the previously mentioned qualitative studies are a rich source of information about the phenomenon of loss of voice, these studies did not get at the very essence and personal meaning of the loss itself. Existential-Phenomenology Existential-Phenomenology has its foundations in both the existential philosophy of Sren Kie rkegaard and the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl (Valle & Halling, 1989). Kierkegaard thought it essential that philosophy address the concrete existence of the individual while clarifying the basi c themes with which human beings struggle. Husserl’s approach wa s more academic in nature and attempted to understand human co nsciousness and experience by


35 rigorously, and without bias, studying things as they appear in the world. Martin Heidegger was one of the first to join existentialism and phenomenology into a di scipline seeking to understand the meaning of human existence without presuppositi on or personal bias (Valle & Halling, 1989). Psychology has tr aditionally embraced a natural scientific approach with several a ssumptions about phenomena in the natural world: they must be obse rvable and measurable, and it must be possible for more than one observ er to agree on their existence and characteristics (Valle & Halling, 1989). More recently, the definition of psychology has grown to include both experience and behavior. If we define psychology as the complete science of human experience (Ornstein, 1985), the need for approa ches that elucidate the meaning of these experiences are needed Through the psychological application of Existential-Phenomen ology, we seek to understand the fundamental nature and meaning of the human experience through descriptive techniques, such as disci plined reflection and interviews or thematic verbalization (Valle & Ha lling, 1989, p. 6, p. 10). Through this process of verbalization, th e unity and interrelatedness of the individual and his or her worl d and the meaning of the lived experiences are revealed (Valle & Halling, 1989, p.7). Through a


36 “bias-free” examination of these verbalizations, a fuller understanding of the themes of human experience can be drawn (Eckartsburg, 1986). The verbalizations that take place during existentialphenomenological inquiry can be vi ewed as a “conversation” between co-researchers, the people describin g their experiences and the person directing and recording that description (Moustakas, 1994; Polkinghorne, 1989). Following th is conversation, the researcher attempts to extract relevant themes revealed through the descriptions of co-researcher life events. Thes e themes are thought to reveal a superordinate structure of expe riences across all human beings regardless of personal traits or demographics (Jones, 1984). In Existential–Phenomenology, th e researcher’s own biases and preconceptions are put “on hold” th rough the process of bracketing (Valle & Halling, 1989, p. 11). Br acketing is a self-reflective process by which the researcher’s own as sumptions or biases about the targeted phenomenon are verbalized and made as clear as possible to the researcher and others so that the world of the co-researcher can be considered as pure phenomena wi thout bias or preconception (Valle & Halling, 1989, p. 11). This proces s allows co-researchers to make the stories of their lives known with out the interference of researcher bias or interpretation.


37 Existential-Phenomenology and the experience of loss of voice In this study, adolescent girls were asked to describe their experiences with a loss of expression of voice. Each girl described a specific experience, in a specific context, in as much detail as she was able remember it. She was encouraged to give details of her experience so that the thoughts, sensations, f eelings, emotions, and perceptions involved in the experience was known. As previously stated, it was imperative that co-researchers have experienced the phenomenon, in this case a loss of voice. The girls must be familiar with the phenom enon as well have the ability to articulate their experiences to enhanc e the insight their reports afford. Each girl had an expert role as th e informant and was seen as an equal to the researcher in the research process. This equivalency of power is of the utmost importance in the interview process because the researcher’s role should be one that only fosters, rather than leads or guides, discussion through brief responses and probes for more description (Thompson, Locander & Pollio, 1990). Polkinghorne (1988) also cautioned the researcher to remain aware of unexpected variables that may come up in co -researcher dialogue so that the researcher’s own preconceptions do not impact the elicited descriptions.


38 The essence and form of girls’ experiences was sought, and since the existential-phenomenological approach does not attempt to predict, control, or explain phenom ena, the girls’ experiences were considered independent of cause and effect relationships (Valle, King, & Halling, 1988). Importantly, each gi rl’s awareness of her particular experience in a given situation must be understood, rather than merely a description of the particular events that occurred at the time (Polkinghorne, 1989). It was believed that the dialogues of these girls, and subsequent themes extracted from them, provid e insight into the nature of the experience of loss of voice in adolescent girls. Further, this approach reveals previously unknown aspects of this experience so future researchers may continue to explore their significance. Glassford (1991) found that educat ors who asked adolescents for their thoughts and opinions on the design of an acceptable drug and alcohol abuse prevention program, as well as possible rules about drug and alcohol abuse, discovered valuable informat ion that was different from what the researcher had theorized would be effective. Chapter Summary As stated previously, both quantitative and qualitative data collected thus far on the loss of voice experience are valuable. However, they fail to capture the me aning or essence of the loss of


39 voice experience from the adolescent girl’s perspective. Specifically, quantitative data require the resear cher to make inferences about the experience of loss of voice, and pres ently available qualitative data are also limited for several reasons. First, much of the descriptive data on loss of voice are brief and were gathered as secondary to the pr imary focus of the present study. Second, participants in interview s were often younger than age 12 years and may not have been able to recall and articulate clearly their experiences (e.g., Brown & Gilligan 1992). Further, none of the interview studies conducted with the desired age group used the existential-phenomenological approa ch, that probes the co-researcher to reflect and describe as they re-live the experience. Instead interviewers used “guides” or focu s groups to gather information. Finally, although loss of voice experiences were well described by some authors (i.e., Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Orenstein, 1994; Pipher, 1994), they featured no syst ematic analysis of the descriptive data. Therefore, it is uncertain whether the theme(s) contained therein are shared across the pa rticipants. Thus, no meaning structure was developed as will be the case in the present study. In sum, adolescent girls are undergoing changes that are pushing them toward adulthood. Th is study targets young females in


40 the midst of this developmental period when the loss of voice experience appears to be a common phenomenon. This study, using the existentia l-phenomenological approach and employing the thematizing method proposed by Jones (1984), gathers data that illuminate the structure and meaning of adolescent girls’ loss of voice experiences. It is be lieved that, in doing so, a better understanding of the essence of a gi rls’ loss of voice experiences will be revealed.


41 Chapter III. Method Design This is a qualitative study that employed an existentialphenomenological interview to colle ct detailed descriptive information about the experience of Loss of Auth entic Voice in adolescent girls. The existential-phenomenological a pproach was used to examine the thoughts, sensations, and feelings of each girl’s own individual experience with Loss of Voice to “explicate the essence” of this experience (Valle, King, & Halling, 1989, p. 13). The basic assumption of the existential-phenomenological pa radigm is that, in order to fully understand the meaning of human ex perience, we must investigate “phenomena as they are experience d by people” (Becker, 1992, p. 33). It has been suggested that the “i nterview best fits the qualitative paradigm” (Borg & Gall, 1989, p. 397) Further, Borg and Gall (1989) stated that investigators must mainta in vigilant awareness of any selfbiases or presuppositions that ma y surface under examination that may influence the interview. A review of the literature indicated that wide support exists for the interview format as most appropriate for


42 qualitative research (Becker,1992; Moustakas, 1994; Polkinghorne, 1989). To ensure the collection of unbiased data, it was imperative that, during the interview, the rese archer remained cognizant of her own assumptions about the experien ce so as not to influence the interview content (Becker, 1992). The interviews conducted for this study were “semi-structured” in that the co-researchers were asked the same style question and subseque ntly probed by the investigator as needed to encourage them to elaborate on their answers. Co-Researchers. The selection of co-researchers for this study followed the guidelines set forth by Moustakas (1994) who identified several criteria essential for co-researchers to possess so that meaningful information would be presented in the interview. The following five criteria were said to be essential: experience with the phenomenon under investigation, considerable interest in understanding the meaning of her or his own experience, an ability to articulate that experience in a detailed and meaningful way, an agreement to participate in a tape -recorded interview, and agreement to the possible publication of the inve stigator’s research data. To be selected, co-researchers must acknowledge and agree to these criteria. Co-researchers were adolesce nt girls between the ages of 12 and 16 years. Although demographic diversity among co-


43 researchers was welcomed, no specific efforts were made to recruit a diverse sample. The goal for selectio n was to find adolescent girls who had experience with a Loss of Voice, and thus could serve as “experts” on this topic. It was imperative that they not only have experienced the phenomenon but were also ab le and willing to describe that experience. Thus, a “representative sample” of the adolescent population was not needed (Guba & Lincoln, 1994). Table 1 contains demographic information. Table 1 Demographic Data Age Grade Range 12-16 Range 7-11 M=14.4 M=9 Note: Race/Ethnicity data were also collected. Of the 12 girls who volunteered (1 interview was not included in thematization), 6 were Caucasian, 4 were Hispanic, and 2 were African American. As stated, of crucial importan ce was each girl’s ability to articulate her thoughts and feelings in a clear, detailed manner. Given that most children, by early adolescence, have developed the ability to speak abstractly about themselves with a complex vocabulary, it is believed that none of the co-researchers selected for this study displayed significant difficulties verb alizing their thoughts and feelings. Sample size. Among existential phenomenological scholars, it has been noted that the number of co-researchers in any given


44 investigation may vary considerab ly (Jones, 1984; Polkinghorne, 1989; Glesne & Peshkin, 1991). While some studies have used as few as three, others have had more than 300 co-researchers. For this study, it was desirable to intervi ew between 10 and 12 co-researchers to achieve the ultimate goal of eigh t usable interviews. In fact, of 12 interviews conducted, only one was deemed not usable because, while the co-researcher articulated the ev ents of the experience, she was unable or unwilling to give a descripti on of her thoughts and feelings during that experience. As a resu lt, only the remaining 11 interviews were thematized. It is believed th at this number of co-researchers achieved the “saturation” point recommended by many existentialphenomenological researchers. This saturation cut-off point, according to Seidman (1998), has been determined to be the point at which there is a “saturation” of informatio n or an exhaustion of repetitive themes across co-researchers. This exhaustion of potential themes contained in each description of the experience allowed the investigator to understand the essenc e of the experience of Loss of Voice as clearly and fully as possible. Selection. The researcher sought vo lunteer co-researchers through friends and colleagues awar e of girls matching the desired criteria. The researcher explained thoroughly all relevant aspects of the study to all potential co-researc hers and their parent(s). This


45 description included explanations of the voluntary nature of the research study, the use of audio-ta ping, confidentiality issues, and the approximate time involved (i.e ., three separate meetings). Researcher. The researcher for this study is a 35-year-old Caucasian female enrolled in a doct oral program in a south Florida university School Psychology program. During her graduate education she successfully completed coursework practicum experiences, and an internship that required objectiv ity, rapport-building ability, and exceptional interviewing skills with both children and adults. As a female, the researcher expe rienced a Loss of Voice during her adolescence soon after entering a private parochial school. Up to that point she often contributed in her classes and voiced her opinion when she felt strongly. The rese archer recalls the one specific experience in 10th grade when she had a stro ng opinion about a topic in class and did not say it. Followi ng this experience, she remembers speaking infrequently, if ever, in clas ses, a habit that carried over into undergraduate and graduate classe s. As a result of this and experiences with sexism, she develope d an interest in women’s issues during her undergraduate career. Today, she incorporates feminist pedagogy into her teaching and dail y life. As a result, she has found that many of her female undergr aduate students report vividly remembering the experience of a Loss of Voice in their adolescence.


46 These students have reported, on several occasions, that the researcher’s description of this ph enomenon in class stimulated their awareness of its existence, and help ed them regain this lost voice. Instrument. Two instruments were used fo r this study. The first “instrument” was the core question posed to the co-researchers: “Please think of a specific time wh en you had something important to say, but did not say it. In as much detail as possible, describe that experience” (See Appendix A). To elicit further description from the co-researchers, the investigator used probes in which information was repeated back to the co-researcher to ensure under standing and to invite the coresearcher to elaborate on her answer Further, probes were used to help the girls shift their focus from historical accounts of the event that are not considered part of the experience itself. These clarifying probes included statements and qu estions such as: explain what you mean, tell me more, can you expand on that?, how so?, what was that like?, are there other words to describe that?, and can you return to decribing…? The second instrument was a demographic data sheet (see Appendix B) which was used to co llect basic demographic information about the co-researchers.


47 Procedure Bracketing interview. Prior to conducting co-researcher interviews, the researcher herself engaged in a reflection of the research question following an ex istential-phenomenological process called a bracketing interview. The purpose of this bracketing interview was to identify any preconceived notions she has about the topic and to allow her to identify and acknowledge her own experience (i.e., emotions, thoughts, and feelings) with Loss of Voice. Further, this helped protect her from imposing her own personal views on her coresearchers’ descriptions (Polkingho rne, 1989; Valle, King, & Halling, 1989). Her interview was conducted and bracketed by another graduate student who is also conducting an existentialphenomenological study. Because this graduate student also was chosen to assist in the thematic analysis of the co-researcher interviews, the investigator completed a bracketing interview with her to reveal any potential biases. Pilot study. To uncover potential procedural difficulties, a pilot study with three co-researchers was completed. These interviews were successful and were included in the actual sample selected for participation. The pilot study helped the investigator refine her skills in conducting an existential-phenom enological interview. Further, no


48 difficulties were revealed and all co-researchers comprehended the purpose of the study and were eager to participate. Interviews. Three separate meetings for interviews (Seidman, 1998) with each co-researcher were completed during this study at a location selected by the co-researcher and her parents(s). During the first meeting of approximately 30 minutes, the researcher introduced herself to th e co-researcher and her parent(s). At this time she obtained the co-r esearcher’s and parent’s consent to participate in the study (see Append ix C). The researcher asked the co-researcher to consider the resear ch question for a short period of time (e.g., three to four days) befo re a second meeting took place. Each co-researcher was asked to k eep a journal of her thoughts and reactions over the interview period. The researcher also maintained “field notes” (See Appendix D) during this time to track her reactions and thoughts during the interview process. At this time, the researcher set up the second meet ing and answered any questions the co-researcher or her parent(s) may have had. Meeting two was audiotaped an d lasted approximately 20-30 minutes. The consenting parent wa s not present at this meeting, and the goal was to capture the co-r esearcher’s emotions, thoughts, feelings, and sensations about a specif ic experience of Loss of Voice. The investigator’s role during this second interview was simply to


49 listen to the co-researcher’s description of her experience, ask for more detail, seek clarifications wh en needed, and keep the interview centered around her experience, rath er than studying the event itself or providing therapeutic interventio n. The researcher attempted to create a relaxed, safe, and no njudgmental atmosphere during interviews so that her co-researchers were comfortable recalling and sharing as much detail as possible about their experiences. At this second interview, a time for the third meeting was set up. Following the second meeting, the audiotape of the interview was transcribed. The researcher and her colleague completed a thematic analysis of this transcripti on. This thematic analysis followed the guidelines set forth by Jones (1 984), and is further described in the Data Analysis section to follow. During the third meeting, the researcher presented each coresearcher with a thematized protocol of her interview to ensure that her experience was fairly and accura tely represented. Each girl was encouraged to offer any changes sh e thought would make the protocol a more accurate representation of her experience. At this third meeting, the girls were given an other opportunity to discuss any additional thoughts they would like to add, as well as to supply new information not recalled or reported in the second interview session. Further, this third interview allo wed each co-researcher to ask any


50 additional questions she may have had. The third interview session concluded the interview process with the researcher restating the level of confidentiality in the study and thanking the co-researcher and her parent(s). Data Analysis Analysis of the interview transcripts was completed following the guidelines set forth by Charles Jone s (1984) entitled “Training Manual for Thematizing Interview Protocol s Phenomenologically.” This systematic method of analysis allo wed for the development of themes derived from co-researchers’ words expressed during interviews. There are multiple steps required to complete thematization and these steps are detailed in the following section. Thematic analysis. Each transcription wa s first read in its entirety to gain an understandin g of the overall meaning contained therein. Second, tentative thematic units, or “units of significant meaning” were marked off (Jones, 1984). These thematic units often contained the actual words used by the co-researcher and, in fact, using the co-researcher’s exact words were of great concern. Specific units may have been distinguished if there was a change in verbal direction of context of the speaker’s words. It has been recommended that transitional words such as “b ut” and “and” be left out of the thematizing process since they gene rally offer little meaning (Pollio,


51 1984). This study followed Pollio’s (1984) recommendation. In the third step, these tentative thematic units were charted on a separate piece of paper. The themes were sequenced as they were presented in the interview. Fourth, the themes were clustered, which involved organizing tentative units into grou ps by identifying similar ideas or phrases in each unit of expression. These groups were then numbered and named as specified by Jones (1984) in the thematic analysis process. During the naming proces s, stringent efforts were made to preserve the verbatim words sp oken by the co-researchers Once these interview transcr iptions were thematized, the investigator examined all the protoc ols together to determine if any superordinate themes, or shar ed themes among all the coresearchers, emerged. Indeed, multiple superordinate themes emerged, suggesting that it may be possible to characterize the essence of a specific experience across all the co-researchers involved in this study (Jones, 1984). Reliability This researcher enlisted the help of another graduate student to thematize protocols. Both the researcher and the fellow student independently read and thematized a sample of protocols, allowing a measure of reliability. These resu lts were compared to determine whether the themes identified were consistent across raters. This


52 measure of reliability (i.e., percen t agreement between raters) was thus be obtained. The desired level of reliability for this study was .70, a level of reliability commonly used in quantitative research as a whole (Thompson, 1996). In fact, the tota l interrater reliability for the pilot study was 88% and was approximat ely 96% across all protocols. Additionally, a triangulation of the data occurred with data from the third interview. At this time, co -researchers were asked if the experience was fairly and accurately represented. Without exception, each co-researcher agreed that th e extracted themes represented her experience. Using multiple raters co ntributes to the trustworthiness of the analysis of the obtained da ta (i.e., triangulation) and a circumvention of potential researcher biases.


53 Chapter IV. Results This chapter presents the themat ized results of 11 existentialphenomenological interviews complete d with adolescent girls between the ages of 12-16 years. Each girl reported that she had experienced one or more Loss of Voice episod es. The contexts of the girls’ experiences will be reported first, followed by the themes extracted during analysis of the interview transcripts. These themes were named using the words of co-researc hers. All quotes were carefully selected to represent equally the experiences of all co-researchers. Context of the Reported Experience The contexts in which the co-res earchers experienced a Loss of Voice varied, as seen in Table 2. Being called on by a teacher to answer a question in the classroom and being reprimanded at school, in a social situation, or at a sch ool-related club meeting such as Student Government Association we re the two most common settings in which girls experienced a loss of voice.


54 Table 2 Context of Loss of Voice Experience Context Frequency Reprimanded 5 Prompted to Speak in Class 4 Discussion with Parent 2 Thematic Analysis Thematic analysis of the 11 interviews detailing Loss of Voice experiences yielded six superordinate themes or themes shared by all the girls. Four subthemes also were revealed. Further, many additional themes were shared am ong some, but not all of the coresearchers. The following se ction describes each theme in descending order of frequency of its appearance. A graphic representation follows each them e’s description to symbolize the meaning of that structure visually in the Loss of Voice of experience. Finally, all themes revealed in the ex perience and their relationship to one another will be represented graphically. Difficult Position Difficult Position emerged as a su perordinate theme in the girls’ Loss of Voice experience. All 11 part icipants revealed that, following a


55 desire to speak, their Loss of Voice experience was characterized by a decision-making process in which th ey silently weighed the potential losses and gains associated with spea king up, putting them, as one coresearcher said, “in a difficult position” or “hard position.” Girls felt this position was difficult because th ey reported seeing themselves in a “lower position” relative to those wi th whom they wanted to speak. One girl, summing up her position in relationship to the other, said, “She was older, you know, elderly and more experienced, she had a lot more power over me.” Anot her girl identified a peer who reprimanded her as more experien ced and “having a lot under her belt.” Another teenager stated with agitation, “I was being put in a bad position where I cannot…say what I feel and not have to worry. I felt like I had a lot to lose and th at’s why I had to keep my mouth shut.” One co-researcher deject edly said, when faced with the decision to speak or be silent, “I had to weigh the costs...either I suffer or everyone else suffers. Ne ither choice was good.” Another put it this way, “It’s a balancing act.” This decision-making process was characterized in terms of consequences, both positive and nega tive, for both speaking out and remaining silent. Girls reported th at they would experience a variety of losses for speaking out (So Much to Lose) but identified relatively few gains (Strong) if they ch ose to speak their minds.


56 So Much to Lose So Much to Lose em erged as a subtheme of Difficult Position. All participants stated that they wo uld experience at least one of three negative consequenc es for speaking up. The first of these consequences, “long-term e ffects,” reflected many girls’ concerns about the potential loss of future opportunities as a consequence of speaking their minds. This particular type of loss always was reported as a result of gi rls being in a “lower position” than another who was viewed as their “s uperior” or one who was seen as holding power over future opportuniti es. Girls feared that speaking out and “causing trouble” could comp romise these future prospects. One girl stated that she had been called “stupid” and “incompetent” by an older student in front of her p eers. This older student was the president of a school club and thus was viewed as being “more experienced” and “above” the other students. Further, this older student was seen as having the abilit y to impact the future social or political opportunities available to th e younger girl. This girl worried about her future membership in th e group as she pondered speaking up, wondering, “Will I ever get this [chance to be in Student Government Association] again?” An other co-researcher said, “I don’t want to get kicked out [of the group] or my chances of being in it next year might be spoiled.” One girl, contemplating a verbal response to her employer who had reprimanded he r in front of peers said about


57 speaking up, “How will this affect me in the future? I mean he has so much control, like he may no t want to write a letter [of recommendation], then I ruin my ch ances later just because I said something I was feeling right now.” The second consequence involved fears of being harshly judged by peers and adults. Girls often wo rried that they would be seen as “stupid”, “different,” “bitchy,” or “a complainer” if they spoke up and would then lose the respect of peers and adults. One girl decided, as she contemplated answering a question in class, that she was “not as smart as everyone else.” Another girl, while taking part in a Bible study group, wanted to ask a questi on but decided not to say anything because she felt that she “should know this, everyone else knows but me.” Several girls believed they were “not as good as” everyone else and did not want to risk being judged as such. Another girl put it this way : “People might think I was wrong, it was just too risky.” A third component of loss can be summarized as “Good Girl/Bad Girl.” Girls were concerned abou t maintaining others’ views of them as “good”, one who shows that sh e cares about the feelings and concerns of others. Girls frequently held the needs of others as more important or worthy of consideratio n than their own, even when these others had hurt or mistreated them. Several girls reported that, although they felt they had been mistreated and disrespected by


58 another, they did not want to speak up and risk hurting the other’s feelings or being viewed as uncaring. One girl said, “I knew she was just stressed out so I didn’t want to say anything that would hurt her feelings.” Another girl who said sh e had been mistreated by a friend and wanted to defend herself, plaintively said, “I was really hurt, but I didn’t want people to think I was me an.” Girls often thought that by simply stating their needs or wants or standing up for themselves they would be looked down upon. One co-researcher summed it up this way: “I just want everybody to be happy.” Further, girls often took responsi bility for the behavior of others as a result of their own. As one gi rl explained it, “If I speak up, then someone else might get the nerve to say something and get in trouble, and I would feel responsible. It would be all my fault.” Ten of the 11 girls stated that they did not want to get themselves in trouble as well. Strong The decision-making process also resulted in the identification of some positive co nsequences of expressing thoughts and feelings, although these were id entified much less frequently than negative consequences. Further, girl s ultimately decided that the risks of speaking up far outweighed an y positive consequences. Several girls stated that, if they had spoken up, they possibly would have had some impact on the hurtful behavior of others. The girls themselves might not be hurt again in the future by the same behavior, and they


59 may also protect others from expe riencing the same ill treatment. “She might not do it again if I tell her how I feel,” said one girl. Another girl felt that sh e might keep the person from hurting others in the same way, stating, “If I had told her how I felt, she might not have done it to someone else.” Still anot her girl said that, if she had asked her question in class, she “might ha ve been able to help other people and learn something at the same time.” Several girls said that, if they had spoken up and answered qu estions in class, their teachers would have been proud of them. All the girls felt that if they had spoken up, they would have felt more in control and better about them selves as individuals. “If I had told him how I felt, what I thought, I would have been proud of myself. I would have felt strong, lik e I mattered,” said one girl, sadly. Another girl stated that if she had said what she was thinking, “I would have felt so good!” The superordinate theme Difficult Position and its subthemes, So Much to Lose and Strong, occurred across all ages, races, and contexts. Each of the participants in this study reported taking part in a decision-making process, determin ing the consequences for speaking and, often, for remaining silent. All girls identified at least one negative consequence for speaking up, while nine of the 11 also identified positive consequences.


60 All major themes are represented by bold text and larger symbols while subthemes are indicated by smaller symbols and text embedded in the symbols of the majo r, superordinate themes. Here, the superordinate theme, Difficult Posi tion, is symbolized in Figure 1. as the diamond-shaped decision sy mbol from a common flowchart. This symbolizes the dichotomous deci sion making process all girls went through before choosing to remain s ilent. Within this diamond, the subthemes So Much to Lose and Stro ng are shown because most girls reported thinking about both positi ve and negative consequences for speaking their minds. So Much to Lose is shown overlapping a small diamond representing the subtheme, Strong. This diamond is small since fewer girls reported this particul ar theme. There is an overlap of themes since So Much to Lose rece ived much more consideration by every girl who considered both th emes and So Much to Lose always overshadowed Strong.


61 Figure 1. Theme of Difficult Po sition with Subthemes, So Much to Lose and Strong. Feeling The superordinate theme of Fee ling was reported by every coresearcher as occurring along with the decision-making process in Difficult Position. The Loss of Vo ice experience involved a range of deep emotional and physical reac tions for every girl interviewed. Emotions. Girls reported emotions that can be categorized into four specific feelings, Diminished, Di fferent, Angry, and Afraid. All girls reported emotions which fell into at least one of these categories, and several girls reported emotions fr om all four groups. Further, encompassing all descriptions of Feelin g, every girl stated that she felt like she might “explode” or “just lose it.” Might Explode is, therefore, a superordinate theme and will be discu ssed at the end of this section.


62 The first subgroup of emotions expressed by co-researchers, Diminished, described the Loss of Vo ice experience as leaving them feeling, in their own words, belittled, weak, childish, young, stupid, invisible, dumb, powerless, frozen, sma ll, worthless, or “just no good.” Nine of the 11 girls specifically used the term “trapped” to describe this feeling. One girl, upon repr imand by a teacher, described her feeling of diminishment this way: “I didn’t talk because I didn’t want him to think I was weak or childish. If I had said it, I was afraid he would think I was so young and so stupid and could not handle criticism. I felt almost invisible at that moment.” The second group of emotions und er Feeling is Different. Ten co-researchers spoke of feeling diffe rent from everyone else, isolated, or alone. They talked about comp aring both themselves and their abilities negatively to those around th em when deciding if they should speak. One girl said, as she decided not to speak, “I guess I just can’t measure up.” “All eyes were on me,” said another girl, “it’s like everyone else knew [the answer], an d I was the only one that didn’t. I just thought, am I the only on e?” One co-researcher remembered wondering of her classmates: “Do they know how insecure I am? ...if I talk, they would think, ‘Are you st upid?’” A very different approach with the same outcome -– silenc e – was revealed by another coresearcher: “I knew the answer but I didn’t want to seem too smart,


63 too uppity, like ‘oh, she thinks she knows everything!’ I don’t want to be that girl, that girl that’s too smart, better than everybody else, no one likes that.” One girl lamented, “I realized at that moment that I was just not like everybody else.” Another group of Emotions can be classified as Angry. All the girls reported feeling anger and rese ntment toward themselves as well as the other. “At that moment, I hated myself,” said one girl recounting her experience.” “It was just a mixture of feelings, like I was mad, upset, flustered…,” said another girl. One co-researcher, talking about a loss of vo ice with her teacher in class, put it this way, “I was disappointed in myself, but I knew she wouldn’t have listened to me anyway. I was mad at her, really mad that she never listens. She’s rude and annoying – it just made me so mad to be silenced!” Another girl, commenting on a club meeting where she was reprimanded for her performance, sa id, “I hated being there, I hated myself, but most of all I hated her (the group leader).” The final Emotion in the Supero rdinate category of Feeling is Afraid. Nine co-researchers said th at at the moment of loss of voice they were fearful and felt “vulnera ble”. One girl, commenting on a classroom experience, said, “School is supposed to be a place where you feel safe and comfortable, and right then I didn’t.” Some girls talked about a fear of the unknown, or afraid, as one girl put it, that


64 “something bad was about to happen but I didn’t know what. It sounds really stupid but I was just scared.” Still another girl compared the feeling to a near traffic accident. It was like me almost hitting th e guy crossing the street the other day in the car. It scared me. I had that same feeling inside – the pounding heart, ge tting all flustered, it was pretty much just like that. Very scared, a lot of fear. Ahhhh! That explains it right there, just out of control, like oh my god! You wonder if it’s really happening. Physical. Within the superordinate category of Feeling, coresearchers reported various physiological reactions experienced during the Difficult Position phas e of the Loss of Voice process. Physical can be categorized into five specific reactions, Hot, Shaky, Tense, Visual/Aural, and He art/Hard to Breathe. All girls reported marked physiological reacti ons of varying intensities during their experience. All 11 co-researchers reported feelings that can be classified as Hot. They described their bodies using such words as warm, hot, or burning up. “I felt like I was on fire, like I was going to melt right there,” said one girl. Another repo rted, “My face was bright red, I could feel the heat.” “My skin was on fire, it felt prickly, I thought I was going to pass out,” said another co-researcher.


65 Seven girls reported feeling Shaky. One girl described it this way: “My body was shaking -I knew everyone could see it. I thought I might just collapse right there.” “I was just trying to hold still,” said another girl, “but I was shaking so bad.” “My adrenaline was going hard,” said another co-researcher. Ten of the 11 girls reported feelin g Tense in some way. Several talked about feeling their fists clenched or grabbing their desks tightly. Many said they felt a “tight throat.” “I was under so much stress, my whole body was tight,” said one girl. “I realized I was latched onto my desk, I was holding on tight, I was so angry and it was all I could do was just hold on,” said one re searcher, gritting her teeth. Ten of the 11 participants said th ey experienced some Visual or Aural Feelings. “I could hear my blood rushing in my ears,” said one girl. Another girl reported that her vision became blurred: “I could not see very well, like I was in such a rage, so scared, I could not even see anymore. It was like tunnel visi on.” “Everything became very quiet right at that moment, but the noise in my ears was so loud, it made me dizzy, I couldn’t hear anyt hing else, just that rush,” said another co-researcher. Another nine girls reported feeling some sort of sensation in their heart as well. “My heart was poundin g out of my chest,” said one coresearcher, “I could hardly breathe.” Another said, “I felt massive


66 pressure on my chest, on my heart. ” The final Physical reaction was Heart/Hard to Breathe. Eight of the 11 girls reported finding it difficult to breathe. “I could not catch my breath,” said one girl, “like there was this huge weight on my chest. Like someone was squeezing me.” Might Explode Finally, culminating all descriptio ns of Feeling and the decision making process in Difficult Position, every girl stated that she felt like she might “explode” or “just lose it.” Might Explode is, therefore, a theme that encompasses the entire Difficult Position and Feeling superordinate themes an d seems to be the final phase of all feeling before the decision not to speak was made. “I just wanted to scream!” said one girl. “I felt like I was about to lose it, like I might not be able to stop myself from saying it, like it would just come out at any second. I was about to explode, literally explode,” said another girl. “It was overwhelming, like I was going to just explode, I almost could not he lp it, I was about to cry,” said another girl, with great sadness. “ I held onto the desk because I felt like I was about to lose control, I was going to just blurt it out.” The theme, Feeling, in Figure 2 is shown as a nebulous cloud containing all the Emotion and Phys ical Reactions reported by coresearchers. All girls reported fee lings from both subcategories. A cloud was chosen, since several girls said they felt they were in a


67 “haze of emotions.” The Feeling cloud completely surrounds Difficult Position shown in Figure 1, showin g that intense Feeling encompasses the Loss of Voice process. Figure 2. Theme of Feeling and subthemes contained in Physical and Emotional, encircling and in rela tion to Difficult Position. Might Explode can be seen at the right as a sharp object crystallizing from the cloud of Feelings Not Worth It Not Worth It emerged as the four th superordinate theme in each co-researchers’ Loss of Voice experience. All 11 participants revealed that, as a result of the decision-m aking process, they chose not to speak. As one co-researcher said, “I could lose so much. It’s just not worth it.” Another girl said sa dly, “There’s no point, I won’t accomplish anything. Someone will be mad or hurt.” Eight girls said that they would delay speaking un til the next opportunity arose to


68 speak. As one girl put it, “I’ll prob ably just wait until next time, I’ll say it later.” For this reason, the “D ”-shaped symbol for Delay from a common flowchart was chosen. Figure 3 symbolizes the delay in speaking that co-researchers made when they decided it simply was not worth it to speak. Figure 3. Theme of Not Worth It following Difficult Position, Feeling, and Might Explode. Who Am I? All 11 participants reported that, after deciding not to speak, they questioned their decision, repo rted feeling anger or resentment toward themselves, and wondered, as one co-researcher put it, “What kind of person am I? If I can’t even tell someone what I think, who am I?” Another girl said, “Every time it happens, it really changes the way I think about myself.” One co-resea rcher said angrily, with her face flushed, “I was so mad! I knew the answer but I didn’t say it.


69 Afterward, I wanted to punch my self in the face! That always happens!” Figure 4, a question mark, was chosen to symbolize the self-questioning of identity girl s underwent at this point in the experience. Figure 4. Theme of Who Am I? in relation to Not Worth It, Difficult Position, Feeling, and Might Explode Nevermind The sixth superordinate theme, Nevermind, followed closely behind Who Am I? Most girls, after feeling anger and resentment toward themselves and questioning th eir decision and, in many cases, their identity, decided that the whol e experience simply was not worth thinking about. “I just told myse lf, ‘Don’t think about it’,” said one girl. Three other co-researchers put it this way: “I tried not to think.” One girl said nervously, “I just laug hed and put it off, I told myself, ‘just try to take it’.” Still another girl dejectedly put it this way: W ho Am I


70 I was so angry, so upset, th en I just felt hopeless and figured it was better not to think about it. I said to myself, “Nevermind, nevermind, just deal with it”. I knew there was nothing I could do. It was too late, I could not change what had just happened so why even worry about it. I let it go. In sum, as one co-researcher stated sadly, “It isn’t important.” Interestingly, this theme alwa ys was revealed last during each interview. Each girl sudden ly brightened at this point, reporting that her Loss of Voice experience “wasn’t really worth thinking about” after all. Figure 5 shows an octagonal “stop sign.” This symbolizes the final step of the Loss of Voice experience for all 11 coresearchers -the point where the experience “stops,” where they decided to stop thinking about it and forget abou t what had just happened.


71 Figure 5. Theme of Neverm ind, completing the meaning structure of the Loss of Voice experience. Difficult Position, Feeling, Migh t Explode, Not Worth It, Who Am I?, and Nevermind formed the prim ary meaning structure of the Loss of Voice experience. These themes di d not occur in isolation, but were intimately related to one another and moved in a temporal sequence denoted by the arrow connections in the above model. Co-researchers reported their Loss of Voice experien ces starting with an awareness of one-down positioning in relation to another person or people along with a related dichotomous decision-making process weighing potential losses and gains from speaking (Di fficult Position). This decisionmaking process was characterized by an emotionally upset state of Feeling (i.e., Hot Shaky, Angry, Dimi nished) which culminated in each co-researcher feeling like she Might Ex plode. At this point, all coresearchers concluded that they ind eed had too much to lose and that speaking up was simply Not Worth It. Following the decision to remain W ho Am I nevermind


72 silent, each girl immediately questioned her decision, expressed some form of self-recrimination (i.e., I hated myself, I wanted to punch myself in the face), and even ques tioned her very identity, asking Who Am I?. Following this self-questio ning, all co-researchers engaged in some form of denial of the importance of the Loss of Voice experience. Nevermind shows each girl’s ultimate resolve – that the Loss of Voice experience was not relevant or wort h thinking about, thereby ridding herself of the unpleasant memories of that experience and placing her in control of her voice again.


73 Chapter V. Discussion “If I do say something, how is th is going to affect everything that I have to do with her? Like I’m going to have to suck up to her after this, and I don’t want to do that and, at the same time, I am sucking up to her because I’m not te lling her how I really feel, so it was just this thing about what kind of person am I if I don’t say this or I do say this. Who am I really? I’m ju st a coward. I would be if I don’t talk but then I would have to be real ly sorry so she wo uldn’t be mad. Then I’d have to act like a coward to make her happy. Either way I lose.” (co-researcher, age 16) This study set out to describe the lived experience of the Loss of Voice in adolescent girls. An ex istential-phenomenological interview method was used to capture desc riptions of the Loss of Voice phenomenon from 11 girl s who had experienced it. This group of coresearchers was chosen because a re view of the relevant research literature on this topic reported th e presence of this phenomenon in the lives of virtually all adolescent girls. A methodological approach that would allow for maximum insight into the cognitions, feelings, and emotions that make up the Loss of Voice experience was of great


74 importance. Therefore the existential–phenomenological approach was chosen. In fact, the use of this approach facilitated an atmosphere of comfort, safety, and impartiality in which the coresearcher openly explored the research question. The average response time used to answer the single, open-ended research question was 24 minutes. This researcher feels the information gathered in the interviews was cand id, vivid, and revealing of the intensely lived experien ce of Loss of Voice. Context and Demographic Impressions Through the analysis of the inte rviews, it appears that neither co-researcher age nor racial or ethnic background had a distinguishable impact on the Loss of Voice experience. Girls of all ages in this study (i.e., 12-16 years) as well as girls of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds (see Table 1) easily recalled at least one Loss of Voice experience and described it with marked consistency. That is, the themes and their meaning stru cture for each protocol were remarkably similar to the others as well as to those revealed by the investigator and her similar-aged doct oral colleague in their bracketing interviews, even though there was a discernible age difference between them and the co-r esearchers. In additi on, despite the setting of the event (i.e., home, school, jo b, peers, teachers, parents), the meaning structure was the same for a ll co-researchers. This suggests


75 that the context of the experience does not seem to shape dimensions of the lived Loss of Voice experience although it may be important in understanding what triggers the expe rience. The apparent finding that the Loss of Voice experience is fu ndamentally the same regardless of age, race or ethnicity, or even cont ext, is supported by the literature (Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Mazarella & Pecora, 1999; Smolak & Munstertieger, 2002). Extracted Themes Difficult Position. Difficult Position, the first major theme extracted from interview transcripts reflected an awareness of power and position and, subsequently, a desire to save face. Each coresearcher silently negotiated the be st way to be seen as the “ideal girl,” always choosing silence as th e safest option. Each girl’s first impulse was to speak freely -to be strong and say what she thought. Following this initial impulse, ea ch girl enumerated a variety of negative consequences she migh t suffer for revealing her true thoughts and feelings. Most of the girls also thought of at least one positive consequence for speaking up but all ultimately decided that the benefits of speaking up (i.e., feeling good about self, influencing others in a positive way) were far outweighed by the risks (i.e., loss of opportunity, harsh judgment by ot hers, wanting to be “good”).


76 This theme aligns well with the research on voice, suggesting that girls place ideals such as likea bility, self-sacrifice, the comfort of others, and preservation of relati onships above thei r own needs and desires –even at great cost to themselves (Smolak & Munstertieger, 2002). As further revealed by the literature, these ideals are ultimately unattainable and, ironic ally, detract from the very selfimage and quality of relationship these girls are trying to protect (Brown & Gilligan, 1992). The words of many co-researchers in this study appear to reveal this lack of attainability and the ulti mate double-bind of losing face and relationship by trying to preserve them. For example, many coresearchers explained that they had t oo much to lose if they spoke up; yet they would lose all the same by remaining silent. This would appear to limit the intimacy of re lationships between girls and their peers and adults. Further, the decisi on that there is simply too much to lose by speaking up leaves girls with silenced voices –and girls’ voices, when they are heard, are of ten weak and lack value in school and society. This desire to be good, not to cause trouble or hurt others, while being unattainable, seem ed to leave these girls feeling torn, frustrated, desperate, and ultimately resigned.


77 Feeling. The second major theme ex tracted from interview transcripts was Feeling which includ ed both emotional and physical reactions during the Loss of Voice ex perience. These feelings are welldocumented in the literature and reveal the range of negative emotions and reactions girls endure t rying to maintain a sense of self while placing the needs of others ab ove their own. Further, from a developmental perspective, adolescent girls often exhibit strong, frequently exaggerated, physiological and emotional reactions. Additionally, adolescence is a time when girls are particularly vulnerable to the opinions of ot hers and seem to respond to an imaginary audience (Elkind, 1967; Newman & Newman, 1999). As several co-researchers reported “All eyes were on me.” Many co-researchers in this stud y stated that they knew they would find themselves in this Difficult Position again in the future. One girl identified this cycle by saying “If I don’t say it now, she won’t know how I feel, and she will just put me in this position again. It happens all the time.” This cycl e of silencing parallels findings showing that adolescent girls ex perience anxiety and doubt when faced with difficult situations, whic h interferes with problem-solving skills, leading to further failure, in this case, a failure to speak, leading to more anxiety and self-doubt the next time around (Pipher, 1994). When co-researchers found themselves in Difficult Positions and tried


78 to decide whether to speak or remain silent, they did indeed experience a range of negative emotions. Might Explode. The third major theme shared by all coresearchers, and an apparent culmination of Feeling, was Might Explode. As girls defer to the need s of others, silence themselves, and judge themselves against a selfless ideal, they must repress their anger (Hart & Thompson, 1996). Furt her, as girls enter adolescence they adopt a submissive role and ar e careful not to be too assertive, too loud, or too domineering (Mazarella & Pecora, 1999). It is in this process of repression and silencing th at girls reported feeling like they were “just going to lose it.” Migh t Explode appears to be a culmination of the negative feelings surrounding th e Difficult Position in which girls determine whether to be true to them selves or remain silent and safe. It is important to note that, alth ough every girl felt like she Might Explode, might be unable to stop fr om saying what she was thinking and despite these intense feelings, no t one girl said what she thought, thereby upholding the traditionally feminine characteristics of being pleasing, quiet, and nice. Not Worth It. Following the intense emotional experience of determining whether or not to speak, each girl decided that, despite personal costs and potential gains, silence was the best option. Speaking up simply was Not Worth It. The co-researchers were


79 apparently aware that “speaking up can be dangerous and disruptive. Girls recognize all too well the potential loss...if they do say what they feel and think too forcefully or di rectly” (Brown & Gilligan, 1992). Six co-researchers said they did not wa nt to be thought of as “bitches” confirming Pipher’s (1994) contention that girls who speak their minds are labeled as bitches by peers and some adults. Who Am I? Girls are faced with societal expectations that tell them to shape themselves, both wi thin and without, to conform to cultural ideals of femi ninity, of “selflessness” (Gilligan & Brown, 1982). As girls take on a role of selflessn ess in adolescence, placing the needs and feelings of others above th eir own, as they lose their assertiveness, they also lose their optimism, become more self-critical, and depressed (Pipher, 1994). As these girls took on a role of selflessness and silence to preserve their relationships, self image, and future opportunities and as they placed the needs and feelings of others above their own, they became self-critical. This self-criti cal response to selfless behavior was identified by Pipher (1994) who sa id that it leads to anxiety and depression. Many girls lose signific ant ground in terms of self-esteem and confidence during adolescence (Stern, 1990). This is apparent during the Loss of Voice experience when girls talked about feeling self-hatred and self-loathing beca use they had not been true to


80 themselves and felt powerless to change. This powerlessness leads to the final major theme, Nevermind. Nevermind. While censoring experience to establish and maintain safe, intimate relation ships (Hart & Thompson, 1996) and preserve self-image and future o pportunities, girls reported feeling defeated and decided that it was no t worth their effort to think about the Loss of Voice experience anym ore. The literature supports the position that adolescent girls of ten lose the ability to tolerate frustration without becoming over whelmed (Pipher, 1994). It is possible that the co-researchers we re unable to continue to think about their experiences withou t becoming overwhelmed and, therefore, decided to forget abou t them. This theme appears to support Brown and Gilligan’s (1992) finding that, as girls move into adolescence, their relationships an d experiences become characterized by disassociation and disconnection As girls move into womanhood, they often do not remember, tend to forget, or even cover up what they experienced as girls. While th e girls said the experience of Loss of Voice was “not important,” this re searcher does not believe that to be the case. Rather, she believes that the strategy of denial, often used to deal with difficult or pain ful situations or emotions, was used to cope with the negative emotions and self-recrimination felt during


81 the Loss of Voice experience. Furt her research might illuminate this assumption. Structure and Meaning The structure of the Loss of Voic e experience seems to present a temporal sequence of events. There appears to be an initial process of decision making characterized by intense emotions and physical reactions, culminating in a strong feeling of being on the verge of exploding (Difficult Position, Feelin g, Might Explode). This initial segment is quickly followed by a decisi on not to speak (Not Worth It). Girls then experience a level of self-recrimination and identity questioning (Who Am I?), and finally decide that the experience is not important enough to th ink about (Nevermind). As discussed, all the girls said that they wondered who they were or were angry or disappointe d with themselves for failing to speak up and be true to themselves Girls reported feeling intense emotional and physical reactions throughout the process of dichotomous decision making (e.g.,s hould I speak or shouldn’t I – and what are the costs?), the decision no t to speak (Not Worth It), and the questioning of that decision and of th emselves as people (Who Am I?). Given the amount of literature on voice and related issues (i.e., depression, selfless behavior, anxiety), the coping strategy of giving up to maintain opportunities, self-i mage, and relationships is likely to


82 contribute further to many problems faced by girls in Western culture. Girls who give up their voices reinforce gender role stereotypes in themselves and others. They are likely to experience a lack of intimacy in their interpersonal relati onships. Also, this giving up of voice is likely to impact school performance and future academic success negatively leading to fewe r life options and reduced career opportunities in adulthood (Pip her, 1994). Women lacking in education tend to be viewed as incompetent and incapable (Yoder, 2002). Additionally, those without ed ucation often lack the means to support themselves, leaving them in poverty, dependent on others for financial well-being, and more vulner able to domestic violence (Yoder, 2002). As they are at risk, so are their children at-risk in a selfperpetuating cycle. A review of the themes extracted from interview transcripts appear to align well with the existi ng literature on the experiences of adolescent girls. More importantl y perhaps, the results illuminate the meaning structure of the lived experi ence of Loss of Voice, which has not been reported previously in the li terature. This model of the lived experience offers compelling insi ght into the vortex of swirling emotions and sensations of girl s experiencing the Loss of Voice phenomenon. It can be hypothesized that this meaning structure of the Loss of Voice experience in adole scent girls reveals the essence, or


83 core experience, of a Loss of Voice. This speculation is supported by the fact that variables of age, race and ethnicity, and context failed to demonstrate any disparity in aspects of the experience. A comparison of the themes from the bracketed in terviews of the lead investigator, her doctoral colleague, and the 11 co-researchers showed great overlap. Since great effort was made during data collection and analysis to ensure that the experi ences of the researcher were not imposed on those of the co-researc hers, this outcome can be viewed as evidence that the experience of Loss of Voice is commonly shared. It could be argued that this shar ing of themes among all interviews was due to investigator bias. Ho wever, the interrater reliability of 96% between two independent thematizers would suggest that the extracted themes reflect the words and experiences of the coresearchers and not those imposed by the lead investigator. Further, the interviews were tape-recorde d and transcribed, allowing the investigator and her doctoral colle ague to review the interviewer’s comments and questions to determ ine whether she was leading the interviewee or otherwise inappropri ately re-phrasing co-researchers’ words. Neither of these occurred, further suggesting that adequate “bracketing” was used during the interview and analysis processes.


84 Journals As stated in Chapter III, each co-researcher was asked to write down her thoughts between the ti me she was presented with the research question and the time she was interviewed. This request was initially met with enthusiasm, but, ultimately, only one co-researcher actually wrote in her journal. He r writing, rather than recounting thoughts, feelings, or emotions ex perienced, consisted of anecdotal accounts of interactions during the ex perience itself (e.g., he was so pushy, he always wants me to help, I did it anyway, I’m never going to help him again). Several possible reasons for this lack of response were considered. First, the investigator may have presented the journaling of thoughts and ideas as op tional. Girls were encouraged to write to help them gather thei r thoughts, but the task was not presented as a necessary part of the process. As one girl stated, “I didn’t think I had to do it!” Se cond, journaling may have resembled schoolwork and several co-researchers in this study reported already being overwhelmed by schoolwork. Third, the experience itself was often characterized by intense emotio n and, subsequently, a desire to deny the intensity and events of the experience. Perhaps the coresearchers found contemplating journa ling of the event to be aversive for this reason.


85 Limitations The research topic for this stud y considered the meaning of the Loss of Voice experience in adolescent girls. To minimize limitations, great care must be taken when completing a qualitative research study using an existential-phenomenologic al approach (e.g., Becker, 1992; Moustakas, 1996; Polkinghorne, 1989). The investigator must establish an awareness of her or his own thoughts and perceptions about the experience under investigation to redu ce the imposition of researcher subjectivity during data collection and analysis. Tremendous care was taken during the course of this study to implement an objective data colle ction and analysis process. Generalization of results to a larger population is one common goal of traditional research studies. However, the ability to generalize results is not a focus of existentia l-phenomenological research: Rather the goal is to “provide sufficient en ough detail so a reader can connect and understand the experience” (Sei dman, 1994). In this study of Loss of Voice, the shar ed themes extracted and their derived meaning structure may help to create an un derstanding of the meaning of the Loss of Voice experience. Further, this investigator believes that the model presented (Figure 5) has the potential to represent a universal model of the Loss of Voice experience This universal representation


86 embodies generalization – the model may essentially be the same for everyone who experiences the phen omenon of Loss of Voice. Future Directions, Purpose, and Summary This study, unlike other stud ies, both qualitative and quantitative, focused not on the “cause” of the Loss of Voice experience, but rather on cognit ions, emotions, and sensations contained in the experience itself. Further, while research on the Loss of Voice in adolescent girls has trad itionally focused on the comparison of scores on standardized meas ures, such as self-esteem and depression rating scales, especia lly by comparing male and female adolescents (Marshall & Arvay, 1999), this study provides a rich and detailed description of the meaning, essence, and structure of the lived Loss of Voice experience, thereby f illing a void in the literature. It is hoped that future resear ch will build upon the results of the present study, given that Loss of Voice is a common phenomenon thought to contribute significantly to a lack of qualit y and opportunity throughout life. Further, there is a need for further qualitative research in this area so that the detailed experiences of girls can be captured more fully. The data gathered in this stud y can be practically applied in several ways. Since there is very little information on prevention or remediation of Loss of Voice in the literature, the use of the present


87 data in initiation of such prog rams would be a highly practical application. Programs for young girl s to help them retain their voices and also remediation programs that will help older girls find and use their authentic voices again -an d learn to speak confidently and without fear – would be highly rele vant uses of the present research information. Most girls reported intense feelings and emotional reactions during their Loss of Voice experien ce, yet 10 of 11 girls chose not to think about the experience afterward, even denying its ex istence. This denial may leave girls vulnerable to future losses of voice since they did not cope with or problem-solve to ensure more effective resolution in the future. An effective cogn itive-behavioral intervention and prevention plan using an experien tial approach (Cash, 1997) can be formulated from the lived experiences reported in this study. Further, programs using information from th e “lived experience” may be much more effective in the prevention an d treatment of phenomena such as Loss of Voice (Piran, Levine, & Stei ner-Adair, 1999). Data from this study can be presented to girls in a therapeutic environment, allowing them to examine openly their Loss of Voice experiences and make choices and changes in their futures. Further, these data offer a guide to the thoughts and behaviors that may be targeted for therapeutic intervention. Girls may benefit from specific techniques such as role-


88 playing and dialoguing that allow them to express their authentic thoughts and feelings. Social skills training should be modified to accommodate the different needs of girls. Girls are not likely to benefit from social skills training, of ten targeted at boys, that teaches silence and accommodating behaviors, rather girls would likely benefit from training that buil ds skills in assertivene ss and speaking up for oneself. Since many girls undergo a change in attributional style during adolescence and they begin not to trust their own judgments and lose the ability to tolerate frustration without becoming overwhelmed (Pipher, 1994), girls wo uld likely benefit from attribution training. Additionally, instruction sh ould include positive self-talk and problem-solving skills to help girls cope with unrealistic self-blame and self-loathing, fears of being judged, or taking resp onsibility for the thoughts and behaviors others. These data may also be useful fo r the development of policy or a curriculum promoting an egalitarian learning environment in schools – one that embraces girls’ authenti c voices and experiences. This curriculum would make teachers an d school personnel aware of the needs of girls and would promote female role models, embrace the voices and experiences of all studen ts, and give fair consideration to the special needs of girls -– grow ing up in a society that demands selflessness and unattainable beauty standards for women.


89 Another consideration worthy of mention is the impact on voice that several girls mentioned after taki ng part in this study’s interview process. One co-researcher said sh e realized after talking about her Loss of Voice experience with the in vestigator that she was much more aware of the Loss of Voice incident s and saw them as less problematic – indeed she found herself much less af raid to speak in class or to tell people what she really thought. “I just started being more honest,” another girl said in an E-mail ex change with the researcher. Oakley (1981) interviewed expe ctant mothers and said that these interviewees often reported a “therapeutic effect of talking: getting it out of your system” (p. 50). These women said that being interviewed had impacted them in several ways, including leading them to reflect on their experience after talking about it, reducing their level of anxiety and normalizing thei r experience, and giving a valuable outlet for expression of feelings. Since feelings of anxiety and being “different from others” are pervasive in the Loss of Voice experience (Gatenby & Humphries, 2000; Hart & Thompson, 1996; Smolak & Munstertieger, 2002), it is thought th at talking about this experience in the interview may have benefited the co-researchers. Indeed, two other co-researchers in the third and final meeting with the investigator reported that, after ta lking about their experiences they experienced a marked difference in the way they expressed


90 themselves, especially in school. Bo th girls said that they are talking more, and, as one girl put it, “I am just not afraid anymore. I realized I was being silly, that I was just as important as everyone else, and they felt just like I did. I don’t f eel stupid anymore if I get something wrong. I can help other people by asking questions too.” Future research may focus on the impact of open-ended interviewing and potential therapeutic effects. Finally, a survey or scale may be developed to confirm the incidence and intensity of the Loss of Voice experience in the larger population, facilitating traditional generalization. In summary, evidence has shown that girls receive an unclear and impossible-to-achieve image of the ideal female through the media, their peers, adults, and society. Trying to live up to this vague and unattainable standard -one th at tells girls to be smart but not too smart, painfully thin yet volupt uous, sexy but pristine -puts girls at risk for a wide variety of social and psychological problems. Girls, faced with such standards, often find that the only safe strategy is to dumb down and shut up. This in vestigator believes that the data presented here capture information central to understanding the lives and viewpoints of girls, useful fo r furthering policy, curricular, and therapeutic changes necessary for th e well-being of all girls and the women they will become.


91 References American Association of Univer sity Women (1991). Equitable Treatment of girls and boys in the classroom. AAUW Equity Brief, June 1991, p.3 American Association of University Women (1999). Gender Gaps: Where schools still fail our children. New York: Marlowe & Company Arnow, B., Kenardy, J., & Agras, S. (1995). The Emotional Eating Scale: The development of a measure to assess coping with negative affect by eating. International Journal of Eating Disorders 18 79-90. Assunta, M. & Jallah, M. (1995, Apr il 16). Consumer organization calls for Barbie Doll ban. Third World Network Features, PNEWS. Becker, C.S. (1992). Living and relating Newbury Park, CA:Sage Publications, Inc. Borg, & Gall, (1989). Educational Research White Plains, NY:Longman. p. 397 Broverman, I.K. (1970). Sex role stereotypes and clinical judgments of mental health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 34 (1), p. 1-7.

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97 Polkinghorne, D. Phenominological research methods In Valle, R.S., & Halling, S. (1989). Existential-phenomenological perspectives in psychology New York, NY: Plenum Press. Potter, E.F. & Rosser, S.V. (1992, Sept.). Factors in life science textbooks that may deter girl ’s interests in science. Journal of Research Science in Teaching 29 (7), 669-686. Radloff, L.S. (1977). The CES-D: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement 1 385-401. Rogers, A. G., (1993). Voice, play and a practice of ordinary courage in girls’ and women’s lives. Harvard Educational review 63(3) 265-295170, 14-21. Sadker, M., Sadker, D. (1985). Sexism in the classroom: From grade school to graduate school. Phi Delta Kappan, 68, 513. Sadker, M., Sadker, D., Fox, L., & Salata, M. (1994) Gender equity in the classroom: The unfinished agenda. College Board Review Sheeber, L., Davis, B., & Hops, H. (2002). Gender-specific vulnerability to depression in ch ildren of depresse d mothers. In: Goodman, Sherryl H., Ed; Got lib, Ian H., Ed Children of depressed parents: Mechanisms of risk and implications for treatment. American Psychologica l Association, Washington, DC, US 2002, p 253-274.

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98 Smolak, L. & Munstertieger, B.F. (2002). The relationship of gender angd voice to depression and eating disorders. Psychology of Women Quarterly 26, 234-241. Sommers-Flanagan, R., Sommers-Flana gan, J., & Davis, B., (1993). What’s happening on music tele vision? A gender role content analysis. Sex Roles 28, 745-753. Song, H (2001). The mother-daughter relationship as a resource for Korean Women’s career aspirations. Sex Roles 44 (1/2) 79-97. Spence, J., & Helmreich, R. (1978). Masculinity and femininity: Their psychological dimensions, correlates, and antecedents Austin: University of Texas Press. Spinazzola, J. (1999) Dimensions of silencing and resistance for adolescents. Unpublished dissertation, Duke University. Stein, N. (2000) Listening and learning from girls. Educational Leadership 57 (4), 18-20. Stern, L. (1990). Disavowing the self in female adolescence. Women and Therapy 1(3/4) 105-117. Taylor, J.M., Gilligan, C. & Sullivan, A.M. (1995). Between voice and silence: Women and girls, race and relationship Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Thompson, J.K. (1996) Body image, eating disorders, and obesity. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

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100 Appendices

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101 Appendix A Research Question This research study used an intervi ew format based on the existentialphenomenological method. This method involves using an open-ended question that elicits a detailed description of the experience under investigation. In this study, fema le adolescents’ experiences with Loss of Voice were examined. The specific interview question was: Please think of a specific time wh en you had something important to say, but did not say it. In as mu ch detail as possible, describe that experience.

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102 Appendix B Demographic Data Sheet 1. What is your name? ____ ________________________________ 2. How old are yo u? ___ _________________________________ 3. What grade ar e you in? ________________________________ 4. What is your ra ce/ethnicity? ________________________ 5. What groups, sports, or acti vities are you involved in? _______________________ _____________________________ ______________________ _______________________________ 6. What is your favo rite class(es)? ______________________ ____ ________________________________ ________________

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103 Appendix C Informed Consent/Assent The Experience of Loss of Authentic Voice in Adolescent Girls: An Existential Phenomenological Study Person in Charge: Deborah A. Cihonski #(813)866-5447 Faculty Advisor: Ellen B. Kimmel #(813)974-9497 Parent/Child Consent Form The purpose of this research is to gain insight into the experience of the loss of authentic voice from a female adolescent’s perspective. I, __________________, give permissi on for my daughter, _______________________, to voluntarily part icipate in a series of interviews with Deborah A. Cihonski M.A., a doctoral student in the University of South Florida’s Sc hool Psychology Program. These interviews will occur in three sh ort sessions of approximately 30 minutes each at a location of my choice. All interviews will be audiotaped and transcribed and destro yed at the study’s completion. I understand that my daughter’s iden tity will be protected and all matters of confidentiality provided The thoughts my daughter shares during this interview process will not be identifiable by name. Only the researcher, Deborah A. Ciho nski, M.A., will have ownership of the audiotapes or transcriptions. Ms. Cihonski retains the right to share portions of the audiotapes or transcriptions (which will be identified by an assigned number ) with her advising educational specialist committee member. I understand that my daughter may experience mild emotional distress during her interview. I underst and that she has the right to discontinue the interview at any time without penalty and will be provided with follow-up informatio n. I also understand that my daughter may benefit from sharing her experience with a supportive adult (i.e., a trained School Psycholo gist), however, I understand that Ms. Cihonski’s role in this in vestigation is not therapeutic.

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104 Appendix C (continued) My daughter will receive a $5.00 gi ft certificate to a local movie theater for her participation. I unde rstand that there will be a total of 10 girls participating in this study. If I have any questions or concerns I understand I can contact Deborah A. Cihonski, M.A., directly or her major professor, Ellen B. Kimmel, Ph.D. at the University of South Florida. Or, if I have questions about my rights as a pers on taking part in this research study, I can contact a member of the Division of Compliance Services at the University of South Florida #(813)-631-4498. I have fully read or have had read and explained to me in my native language this informed consent form describing a research project. I have had the opportunity to question one of the persons in charge of this research and have received satisfactory answers. I understand that my daughter is being asked to participate in research. I understand the risks an d benefits to her, and I freely give my consent for her to participate in the research project outlined in this form, under th e conditions indicated in it. I have been given a signed copy of this informed consent form, which is mine to keep. _____________________ ________ ________________ _____ Printed Name of Parent Signatur e of Parent Date Or Guardian or Guardian _____________________ _________________ _________ _____ Printed Name of Parent Signature of Parent Date Or Guardian or Guardian

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105 Appendix C (continued) Child’s Assent Statement (for children ages 13-16) I have read the consent form and understand the requirement of the study. I agree to be in this study. ____________________ __ _______________________ _____ Printed Name of Child Signatur e of Child Date _______________________ _______ _______________ _____ Printed Name of Parent Signat ure of Parent Date Or Guardian or Guardian ____________________ __________ ________________ _____ Printed Name of Signature of Date Investigator Investigator Investigator Statement I have carefully explained to the Parent(s)/Guardian(s) the nature of the above protocol. I he reby certify that to the best of my knowledge the Parent(s)/Guardian(s) signing this consent form understands the nature, demands, risks and benefits involved when consenting to this study. ____________________ __________ ________________ _____ Printed Name of Signature of Date Investigator Investigator Institutional Approval of Study and Consent Form This research project/study and in formed consent/assent form were reviewed and approved by the Univer sity of South Florida Institutional Review Board for the protection of human participants. This approval is valid until November 2003. The board may be contacted at #(813)974-5638.

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106 Appendix D Field Notes 11/23/02 Bracketing interview Since my colleague and I had a strong base of trust with each other and had previously discussed our Loss of Voice experiences, recounting them in more detail was fun and interesting. I was struck by the similarities in our experien ces although they occurred in very different contexts and with different people. 12/19/02 The first three interviews. These girls were eager to talk – although one informed me that he r mother warned her she would be “taken advantage of” if she took part in a research study. Her mother had not expressed this to me and I wo ndered if this girl was going to guard her words closely to avoid this. She seemed very open, however, and I feel good about two of the three interviews (including hers). 12/22/03 Fourth interview: Girls are repo rting over and over how angry they feel about their experiences, and how helpless as well. They seem to think there is no right an swer and they will lose no matter what they do. They would rath er take the burden of loss on themselves personally. Self-sacrifice I am learning that keeping girls on-track is hard work, and t oo much redirecting stunts the conversation. The girls seem to like giving lots of detail and contextual information. I will have to let these girls talk and ramble a bit and parse out what’s needed later in relation to Voice. This girl’s mother asked her daughter after the interview, now that she had talked about her Loss of Voice, if she was going to be “all uppity and start getting into trouble for talkin g too much.” Amazing how quickly expectations were reinforced by another female. 01/04/03 This was an interesting and powe rful interview. This girl, for 13 years old, had quite a conception of the power structure in place at school and in society – she even used the terms “power structure” and “hierarchy”. She is convinced that, in adulthood, things will be better. She says she wanted to punch hersel f in the face for not answering a

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107 question in class and that she had “no self-esteem, like none at all.” It was a shock for me to see such a brig ht girl – the “typical” picture of happiness, beauty, and health – feeling this way about herself. This was the first time I felt a really strong desire to “counsel” a coresearcher. It is hard to simply lis ten! I did talk with her after the interview about the concept of Voice and my interest in it, although I left the self-esteem issue alone. She said she was very relieved that she was not alone. Apparently, she had a hard time believing that I had experienced a Loss of Voice as well. 01/07/03 Fifth and sixth interviews. Th e first was a recount of a school experience but the other was of a girl finding out some very private family information and feeling she co uld not express herself because of her mother’s fragile emotional state. What a corner to be in! The sixth interview was another where it was difficult not to interrupt and counsel – or at least offer resources. I am getting better at getting girls to elaborate, our interviews are more like conversations now and are really flowing. Things aren’t as “serious” and the girls are able to laugh while they share, rather than just recount their experiences in a sad tone – I feel like their talking is giving them some real insights into the experience. Almost every gi rl has said that she felt “better” after talking. 01/12/03 I am starting to see patterns in the interviews, and hearing similar statements: “A tough position ”, “I hated myself”, “I was gonna lose either way”. I am starting to notice more an d more silencing of girls around me when I am observing at schools and when I am just out places – even at friends’ houses. 01/17/03 These girls report feeling really powerless. The frustration is so evident in all of them with the sa me result, even through their anger and despair: silence. 02/17/03 Transcribing the tapes had been a chore! I think it has been good for me to hear them again and put them to paper myself. Patterns are emerging and re-emergin g. My bracketing partner and fellow graduate students has reported that the interviews are powerful and sad.

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108 Appendix E Thematic Analysis A. Read the transcription in its Entirety B. Mark Off Tentative Thematic Units a. Identify “units of significant meaning” avoiding transition words I. Chart Tentative Thematic Units a. Write units on a different piece of paper grouping them by “what fits together” II. Clustering the Units a. Connect – chart the units by linking similar units together b. Check – check the chart against marked transcriptions for any missing units c. Group – group the themes that seem to “hold together” d. Number – number the themes on the chart and in the transcript as well e. Name – name the themes accord ing to “sorting factors” – preserve the co-researchers’ words III. Tally IV. Summary a. Summarize the sp eaker’s experience V. Determine Reliability a. Compute the percentage of total agreement between two thematizers (Polkinghorne noted that a measure of reliability is determined when the researcher “checks back” with the coresearchers to make sure their expressions were captured fairly and accurately). VI. Consider Superordinate Structures a. A certain set of themes that occur across interviews

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109 CURRICULUM VITA October 28, 2002 DEBORAH ANN CIHONSKI: Home Address: 4532 W. Kennedy Blvd. #228 Tampa, FL 33609 Telephone: 813/866-5447 E-mail: Work Address: University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Ave, EDU 380 Tampa, FL 33620 Telephone: 813/974-7697 E-mail: EDUCATION: August 2004 Ph.D. School Psychology (anticipated) University of South Florida, Tampa* GPA 4.0 July 2003 Ed.S. School Psychology University of South Florida, Tampa* June 1994 M.A School Psychology University of South Florida, Tampa* GPA 4.0 (Honors) June 1993 B.A. Psychology Indiana University, Bloomington Honors *Accredited by the American Psycho logical Association and approved by the National Association of School Psychologists.

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110 Areas of Interest: Teaching Gender and Women’s Issues Adolescents’ Learning and Development Human Relations Skills in Counseling Child Development Pediatric Health Disorders Neuropsychology Areas of Interest: Research Pediatric Health Disorders Gender and Women’s Issues (voice, oral narrative) Adolescent Learning and Development Childhood Cancer and Sibling Adjustment Cranial Irradiation and Learning Educational Legislation and Reform Professional Affiliations American Psychological Association National Association of School Psychologists Florida Association of School Psychologists Psi Chi National Honor Society Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society Honors and Awards Nominee, Outstanding Teaching Award, University of South Florida, 2003 Nominee, Outstanding Teaching Award, University of South Florida, 2002 Academic Achievement Award, Division of Arts and Sciences, 1993, Indiana University Award of Superior Scholarship, Indiana University Women, 1993 Dean’s List, 1990-1993, Indiana University Current Positions 2003-Present School Psychology Advanced Practicum, The Ophelia Project Tampa Bay, Tampa FL Responsibilities include de sign of curriculum for adolescent girls on topics such as relational aggression, peer pressure drug abuse, suicide,

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111 support systems, values and beliefs, self-acceptance, decision making, leadership skills, and school dropout prevention. Facilitated groups at Tampa Parks and Recreations with the Ta mpa Girls’ Club using the Owning Up and Girls’ Circ le curriculum. Developed the “For Girls Only” seminar, a 2-hour seminar for girls going into middle schoo l, also developed a peer mentor training program for middle and high school girls, and developed “Story Performing for Girls” workshop, teaching girls the art and value of oral narratives and helping them find their voices, identify their own values and life stories to empower themselves and teach other girls. Identify and write grants to secure funding for new projects, recruit girls for various workshops and discussion groups, Participated in the Speakers Bureau talking to groups of girls, parents, educator s, and other adults about issues faced by adolescent girls in our culture. 2003-Present School Psychology Practicum, Dr. Don Kincaid, Division of Applied Research and Education Support, Department of Child and Family Studies, Louis de la Part e Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa FL Responsibilities include wo rking with individual students, teachers, and school personnel, completing Functional Behavior Analyses, creating PersonCentered Plans, and designing and helping implement classroom-level positive behavioral support (PBS) plans, conducting trainings for educators on school-wide PBS, and assisting in implementation of school-w ide PBS systems. Also designing and implementing behavioral support plans for individual students with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Helped schools enter discipline data into a national database (SWIS-II). 2001-Present Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Psychological & Social Foundations, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL Major responsibilities include teaching multiple sections of MHS 4052, Human Relations in Counseling and EDF 4131, Learning and the Developing Adolescent. Duties include: devising

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112 syllabi, planning lectures and experiential learning activities, and grading students. Previous Professional Experience 2002-Present Evaluator, Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS). Participated in monthly developmental screenings of preschoolers. Administered the Brigance Early Childhood Screener and answ ered parents’ questions regarding the development of their children. 2001 School Psychology Psychoeducational Evaluator, Pinellas County, Florida Responsibilities included academic assessment and diagnosis of emotional disturbance, consultation (with teachers, parents, and administrators), individual and group counseling 1995-1996 School Psychology Intern, Pinella s County, Florida Responsibilities included academic assessment and diagnosis of emotional disturbance, consultation (to teachers, parents, and administrators), individual and group counseling (anger management, loss and bereavement, social skills, self-esteem, and substance abuse), and in-s ervice presentations. Served in two Chapter 1/Drop-out Prevention Schools with at-risk yout h, a pre-Kindergarten Autism/Low Incidence Unit, and provided services to students in preschool, elem entary, middle, high, and alternative school settings. 1993-1995 School Psychology Practicum, Polk County, Florida Served in Project Achieve and Chapter 1 elementary schools. Responsible fo r administration of standardized tests and curriculum-based measurement probes, desi gned, implemented, and evaluated academic and behavioral interventions, conducted anger management and social skills training. Experiences include observing and working in various special educatio n, general education, and

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113 low-incidence classes and conducting home visits with county social workers. 1994 School Psychology Prac ticum, University of South Florida Children’s Center, USF, in conjunction with local private schools. Served in a private school, grades pre-K through 12, in conjunction with the Children’s Center at the University of South Florida. Completed a comprehensive case study with a kindergarten student with special needs at risk for retention. 1993-1994 School Psychology Practicum, Dover Elementary School, Dover, FL Responsibilities included administration of standardized tests and curriculum-based measurement probes and consultation with teachers and administrators. Experiences included observing and working in various special education, general education, and low-incidenc e classes and conducting home visits with county social workers and the school psychologist. 1992-1993 Court Appointed Special Advocate, Lake County, Indiana Served as an advocate in the county court system for children ages birth to 17 years. Responsibilities for each child included a re view of case literature, meetings with the child and family, and appearances in court to represent th e interests of the child. Research Experience 1993-1995 Graduate Research Assi stant, The Institute for At-Risk Infants, Children, Youth and their Families at the University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. Responsibilities included compilation and review of data collected from Florida’s 67 school districts regarding the need for he alth care services among the states most impoverished children and families.

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114 1993-1995 Graduate Research Assistant, The Institute for Instructional Research an d Practice, University of South Florida. Responsibilities included preparing and reviewing information on Florida’ s Chapter 1 schools. Responsible for survey preparation, data collection and analysis, report editin g, and attending local and state Department of Educ ation conferences while organizing data collection procedures and instruments. University Service 2001-Present Consultant, Banyan Family Center for Special Needs Adoptions, Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa. Served as a consultant in special needs adoption cases involving academic and behavioral difficulties at home and school. October 2002 Guest Speaker, Ed ucational Leadership Honors Seminar on Research. Presented both academic and personal perspectives on the discovery and development of research topics and questions including finding interesting and compelling questions in everyday life and determining both personal and social relevance of topics and questions in students’ fields of study.