In The Know Zone

aggressive friends

"With friends like these..."

Queen Bees, a.k.a Really Mean Girls (RMGs) or Alpha Females, aren’t the only perpetrators of relational aggression.  The practice of rumor mongering and gossiping is all but universal among adolescent girls, and often occurs between former, and even current “best friends.”

While it may be something of an oversimplification, it is instructive to think of male bullying as being largely about social rank and female bullying as being about inclusion.  A boy who bullies another boy isn’t seeking to exclude his target from the loose confederation of male schoolmates.  He is seeking to establish his own superiority in that environment.  His victim remains in the group, but at a lower status—lower, indeed, not only in relation to the bully, but to the witnesses to his humiliation.

“Girl world,” as one writer has dubbed it, is perceived by its inhabitants as a sort of lifeboat with fewer seats than there are potential occupants.  As a result,

“…the culture says that, in order to belong, someone else is not going to.  For you to belong, you’re going to have to maintain relationships, no matter how people treat you.  And that can be incredibly dangerous for girls.” [8]

Adolescent friendships are far more intense and important in girls’ lives than they are in the lives of boys.  It is probably not an exaggeration to say that a teenage girl would find it nearly impossible to define herself in any significant way without including her friends in the description.

What renders them vulnerable to relational aggression is the changing nature of their friendships and the perception that close friendship requires divulging your inmost secrets and opinions.  When the friendship declines, the girl who feels slighted is in possession of immense amounts of information to turn into gossip and embarrassing disclosures regarding her former intimate.

The core of girls’ relationships is communication, and the need to communicate in an intense, competitive social environment leads them to develop skills permitting them to use language more subtly, manipulatively and indirectly than boys, whose social use of language is restricted largely to commands, threats and boasts. [9]

What was once dismissed as mere “teen bitchiness” is now perceived to be the sophisticated maneuvering of relationships in a world almost as Byzantine and perilous in its social structure as that of Louis XIV’s Versailles.


[8] Rosalind Wiseman, author of “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” founder of The Empower Program, Syndistar interview,  September, 2004.

[9] Bullying Behaviours and Peer Relationships: The Double Edged Sword of Exclusion and Rejection.

 

 

In The Know: At Risk Pamphlet/ DVD Package
In The Know: At Risk DVD Package