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.

i mean

[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]

queen bee
torn bystander

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.

the sidekick
- 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

the banker
- 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

she is
- 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

the floater
- 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 target
- 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
in control

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"


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:

in control

and outside it:

mama's boy
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.


Enny said...

I think I'm STILL the torn bystander...

meva said...

I've been out and about (which is nice, and all) but i can't comment yet. Are you talking about GOB? My most favourtist magician in the whole universe?

I hate girls.

Chai said...

What IS all this? *hands on face*
More reasons for parental angst?
I just saw the "Sex and relationships" segment on George Negus' new ABC show where he has these young teens talking about the topic. I am frozen.
The day my kid starts having sex, I am killing myself.

Dxxxx said...

Oh god, as a teenager I was completely outside the box then??
The fat and acne no longer apply, but i reckon the rest still stand....

So glad right now that i don't have an on-the-cusp-teenage-daughter...
But i have no doubt that you will handle it all splendidly, as usual. You are def one of the best mothers I know and will take it all in your stride.


BEVIS said...

*bouncing from foot to foot, almost bursting to make snide comment on MG being polite in her youth ... and now ...

I ... cannot ... make it ... AGGH!*

BEVIS said...

PS - I am certainly more of a GOB person that a Lleyton person ... but you already knew that.

Steph said...

What you sorry for? Ohh that. What a baptism of fire to the blogosphere that was. LOLZZ.

I still heart you.

Anyhoo, my 17 year old cousin is going through a tough time via My Space. A comment she left wasn't appreciated and now she has three girls from the popular group at her school that want to "bash her". For real!!
Her own friends don't want to be drawn into it for fear of earning the ire of the popular girls too. So she's kinda on her own with this one.
What to do?

The things these biatches say to her on MSN and in text messages. is just awful.I told her to save all the convos but there is no way she'll 'dob' on them.
I remember highschool as being cliquey and harsh, but the extent that bullying goes these days is just mind boggling.

Sherriff said...

I like how neither the girls or boys have "intelligent" in ANY of the boxes.

BEVIS said...

Steph, get those girls' contact details to me.

I'll sort 'em out in a way that'll have them thinking twice before they pick on your cousin again.

(Not in a yucky way.)

sublime-ation said...

I'm with Enny, although I think I had a bit of all of those in me in high school.
These things are so complex. It's also not so clear-cut along gender lines, I had a horrible time when I was bullied after falling out with a 'queen bee' (there are normally several I think) when I was 15, and some of the boys played right along with the psychological bullying. The only (attempted, I know self-defense yo) violence came from a girl.
Good this is finally being analysed though.
I can't believe it's still going on, like with Steph's poor cuz, if anything, don't they know how goddamn uncool they are?

Alabama said...

Oh dear. That brought back memories. I guess I'll always be a floater.

Magical_M said...

I loved Mean Girls. I actually own it on DVD. But that's only because my flatmate got it as a freebie. Honest.

And GOB. I love GOB. I should think that studying Maeby might be useful though...

Oh and I suspect I went somewhere between the torn bystander and the floater. But I've blocked out most of my hellish teenage years. Just.


I'm not Craig said...

Men who don't like strong women with opinions have no idea what they are missing.

As for the guys' list, the theory that 'acts like a girl' is the basis for every characteristic outside the box is pretty offensive. The idea that being weak, sensitive, unathletic etc is inherently female is just dumb.

Clearly all men sampled for this survey were smoking crack at the time.

Oh, and I liked the last post about hair, too.

MelbourneGirl said...

enny, i don't think torn bystander is the worst one. i wonder if i am still the wannabe. probably.

meva, yes, your fave magic man GOB. it's just i don't do caps, they tire me. i often hate girls too.

chai, that last sentence you wrote sent a shiver down the proverbial. don't. want. to. think. about. that. mustn't.

dxxxx. this is why i adore you. you say such nice things about me. and you are ace as well.

bevis. THIS is why i LOVE you too. you make me laugh.

steph, thanks for being a gentlewoman. fuck, that sounds rank. make it gentle-chick. oh, getting worse now. anyway, thanks for being you. [nose wrinkle]

sherriff. well hello there. that was interesting. i like the way your mind works and thanks for visiting.

sublime, you're right, it's not always along clear gender lines. hmmmm.

alabama, i reckon floater is the way to go. i'm a bit of that, mixed with wannabe/observer.

m_m - sweetie. i love mean girls. we have it on dvd too, er i mean princess does. it's a must watch for anyone with kids approaching teens. or even with babies like sweetums, bevis, just so you know what the deal can be.

INC - you said "Men who don't like strong women with opinions have no idea what they are missing."

i've always liked you but this has made me like you so much more. being a strong woman, these words are music to my ears. you old flatterer, you. but i also liked everything else you said in your comment too.

Anonymous said...

just dropping by to say hi