Wagatwe Wanjuki's Reviews > The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused -- And Start Standing Up for Yourself

The Nice Girl Syndrome by Beverly Engel
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's review
Sep 03, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: abuse, how-to, mental-health
Read from August 11 to 31, 2011

Now I am a little embarrassed that I was interested enough in reading this book. My intuition told me that this would be a book that would piss me off, but I did not want to dismiss it without giving it a shot. I am pleased to say my gut feelings were proven only partially right; I surprisingly was still able to get something out of this book. I finished this book with a surprising feeling of validation, empowerment, and eagerness to use the new skills I read in here.

I am indisputably a Nice Girl; I have consistently been someone who has been very kind (sometimes overly so) to those I love even if they do not treat me with a fraction of the amount of love and respect I provide them. I inevitably would get upset/confused as to why people I treat well consistently treat me like crap, but now it really has helped me realize my actions and my love will not change the actions of others. Being fair does not guarantee fair treatment.

Anyway, one problem is that I felt that the stories that Engel wrote did not relate to me very well. I generally have this problem and I am not sure if it is just me or not, but I struggle to find profiles or examples of other people in self-help type books that really resonate with me. The list that Engel procure as to why I am Nice Girl and how I need to change it were almost useless to me, but I was able to write my own personalized tips between the lines to make them relevant to my life.

My issues with the book: it was heteronormative, it placed the burden on victims to not be mistreated or abused, and it felt like it was full of contradictions. She insists she isn’t victim blaming but talks about how women “let” themselves be abused; I honestly believe that abuse can be inevitable with no regards to the victim’s personality. She says that women “biologically” are this and men are “hard wired” for that (bleh), but then talks about how women are socialized to be passive in this patriarchal world (which is more talking my language).

Overall I am still happy I read this book, despite its shortfalls. While I was able to decipher what I would need to take out of this book, I wonder if many readers would be able to do the same. She starts off the book with insisting that she isn’t victim blaming, but I think we are in dangerous territory when we continue to concentrate on writing self-help books for women on avoiding emotional and physical abuse and don’t think about writing books about “hey, don’t abuse people even if they’re really nice.” This belief gave me an overall uneasiness about this book and I don’t think I’d necessarily recommend the whole thing, but I would probably be willing to recommend a passage or two with my personal notes and disclaimers.
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Reading Progress

08/11 page 30
11.0% "Not very far in and have a lot to say about this woman's point if view...idk why I put myself through this"
07/20 marked as: read
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