Mean Girls

Relational aggression Adolescence Body image

Logically, when people want to make friends, and “up” their popularity status, they are nice to others. In high school, it seems that girls do this the opposite way, and are mean to one another in order to bond with friends and become more popular. This paper will discuss reasons why adolescent girls tend to put down others, rather than be nice and respectful. It seems that the number of mean girls are increasing every year, and high school seems to be a connection.

Schools all around the country are dealing with the issue that they call bullying. However, bullying is an understatement for most of the issues dealing with adolescent girls. By definition, bullying is only one aspect of aggression (Coie et al., 1991). Bullying is a hurtful one-way ‘systematic abuse of power’, which usually occurs repeatedly over time (Smith and Sharp, 1994: p.2; Olweus, 1991). Most of the aggressions between girls in high school are not a one-way system. The issue of aggression at hand is more of a two-way process of attack and retaliation (Roland and Idsoe, 2001). When studying the aggression and conflicts of adolescent girls of similar social statuses, it reveals that girls do engage in retaliation, and revenge seeking against one another (Owens et al., 2000b).

There are many theories that explain the differences in aggression between girls and boys, such as biological factors and social-role theories. According to Bjorkqvist et al., (1994), and Lagerspetz et al., (1988), girls prefer to use indirect aggression, such as, spreading rumors or exclusion from the group, instead of physical aggression. This is usually because they are physically inferior to boys. It is also thought that cultural gender-role expectations encourage boys to be directly aggressive, where girls are socially discouraged from that kind of behavior (Vennessa H. James and Laurence D. Owens, 2005). As a result of these expectations, girls need to hide their aggressive intentions, so they don’t violate the...
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