Friday, November 24, 2006
mean girls - some weekend reading
so i'm reading this book called queen bees and wannabes: helping your daughter survive cliques, gossip, boyfriends and other realities of adolescence, written by rosalind wiseman . as someone pointed out before, it inspired mean girls.
it's kind of funny because as i'm reading it, i'm seeing the rules of girlworld still apply to me and some of my friends.
[shouted in lleyton way, or g.o.b way*. take your pick depending on what kind of reader you are**]
so, i figured, now that princess is well into tween-dom, and on the cusp of not quite a woman and not a girlness [apols brit] i would take a stroll into some of the literature, and try to gather some knowledge, read some of the current thinking and basically get a head start on her. i know this isn't possible, this girl is Smart, and quicksilver fast when it comes to figuring stuff out. my old brain plods behind hers like the tortoise to the hare; and i'm pretty intelligent.
guess what? things are so much worse than when i was a teenager. it seems. maybe i was in a bit of a bubble, but being at an all-girls school, which apparently are seething masses of champion bitchy behaviour, you might have thought i would come across the occasional bitch who would try to put me down. from memory, i met no such bitch, and there was no such put down.
one answer to this was that I, yes moi, was the bitch.
impossible. no, really. i was nice and polite. still am.
bevis, close your mouth right now.
the other reason was maybe this sort of thing only happens in movies, especially american movies, where people like lindsay lohan enter an underworld of teendom, where there are rules about who talks to who, who is cool, who is a dork, where you are allowed to stand or sit or eat lunch, who you can date [fuck, when i was at school, we "went out" with someone.]
but i'm aware of the pack mentality that girls can get into. [still sorry about that, steph. maybe i'm not that nice?] i'm not sure if it's the same with boys. i'm talking when applying social controls to peers, not gang bangs.
anyway, this book tells us the following:
here are the different roles our daughters and their friends might play [also read us and our friends]
now, straight away we can see that we don't want to be the target. but what do the other ones mean?
you or your daughter is a queen bee if...
- her friends do what she wants to do
- she isn't intimidated by any other girl in her class/girl at the bar/girl at work
- her complaints about the other girls are limited to the lame things they did or said
- she can persuade her peers to do just about anything she wants
- she can argue anyone down
- she's charming
- she can make another girl feel 'anointed' by declaring her a special friend
- she's affectionate and can use that to demonstrate rejection of another girl
- she won't, or is very reluctant to, take responsibility when she hurts someone's feelings
- if she feels she's been wronged, she feels she has the right to seek revenge; an eye for an eye.
- second in command to queen bee and the closest to her and will back her no matter what.
- dresses and looks like the queen bee; helps queen bee to wield her power
- almost as powerful as the queen bee, but it's easy to mistake her for the messenger
- the banker creates chaos wherever she goes by banking information about others and dispensing it in a way and at a time that works for her
- gets girls to trust her when she pumps them for info because it doesn't seem like she's gossiping. they spill, then she uses the information
- extremely secretive
- she thinks in complext, strategic ways
- she seems to be friends with everyone
- she's rarely the subject of fights
- she's rarely excluded from the group
- she moves around between groups and she's really quite nice
the torn bystander
- constantly conflicted between doing the right thing and her allegiance to the clique
- most likely to be caught in the middle of a conflict between two girls or two groups
- tries to accommodate everyone
- not good at saying no to her friends
- bends over backwards to be in the group and not get kicked out
- the victim, the one set up by the girls to get picked on.
- can be a member of the clique
so, at this stage i'm thinking "girlworld" is just a little too benign a term, a little too close to spiceworld and the colour pink, ms wiseman. how about "girlmafia"?
next up, we have the "act like a woman" box, where we are told that high social status is forthcoming when a girl has certain characteristics, and of course low social status is attached to other states or behaviours. these are the attributes that girls themselves listed and rated.
i can't draw a box here, but the author has a box with the following characteristics in it:
hangs out with the right guys
nice on the outside
and, outside the box:
too opinionated and cause-oriented
so, you can work out which are the high status ones, and which are the low.
a couple of things jumped out at me here.
"nice on the outside"
WHAT THE FUCK?
so, fake it and that's all that matters in girlworld. so what about the years, and it's still ongoing, of me teaching princess that it's important to be kind, generous and accepting of other people. to share, to be tolerant, to care for and look after.
also, "too opinionated and cause oriented." it's interesting to see this here. i've had a private little theory, perhaps shared with the germaine, that girls or women who are too opinionated cause discomfort to the kinds of people who are inside the "act like a woman" box. so does that mean that intelligent thought, and having opinions, and sharing those opinions are lowering the personal social status of girls/women who behave like that? i see it happening all the time. it's connected to the idea that some/alot of boys/men don't like strong women.
as a strong woman with mad hair, i find that kind of annoying.
and also as a mad woman with strong hair.
before i finish, i can hear some of the male readers smugly chuckling.
well, as it happens, boyos, there's a box for you guys too.
check it -
inside the "act like a man" box:
and outside it:
trying too hard
acts like a girl
as wiseman points out, "acting like a girl" is the basis for every characteristic outside the box. as she says anytime a boy's behaviour was perceived as weak or sensitive, the boys' automatic perception was that the behavior was inherently female or gay.
apparently most if not all of boy social behaviour is enacted with the underlying consideration/control of not seeming gay. what the hell is going on?
what the hell is going on?
have a good weekend, and be nice to each other.
[*secretly hopes there are more g.o.b people reading than lleyton peeps, but isn't fussy.]
** if i have to explain who g.o.b is, then you are clearly not one of his peeps.