What does the social world of girls look like? At first glance, it's about sharing secrets, giggling over boys and carefree fun. But lurking underneath this facade of niceness is a hidden culture of nastiness that pits one friend against another. Lynn Glazier examines the tumultuous nature of female relationships from girlhood to adulthood; from the playground to the office .
Social aggression in girls is now being studied for the first time after decades of research on physical bullying among boys. Research conducted around the world shows that girls everywhere are motivated to use their closest relationships as weapons, regardless of class, race or family background. Why do girls resort to covert tactics like shunning, exclusion, eye rolling and rumour mongering to win and keep their place in the social hierarchy? Through insightful commentary from leading North American experts and an insiders view into the workings of a clique of ten-year-old girls, the foundation of the hidden culture of aggression in girls and hopes to combat it through challenging societal attitudes are explored.
What are the costs when society insists that “catty” behaviour is normal, natural and expected from girls? Fourteen-year-old Dawn-Marie Wesley paid the ultimate price when she killed herself to escape the persistent social torment of her friends. She named 3 girls in her suicide note resulting in criminal charges and a precedent setting court case. This is a cautionary tale for every player in a social dynamic that can easily spiral out of control. Through exclusive interviews with Dawn-Marie’s family, closest friends and one girl convicted of criminally harassing her, a startlingly complex picture of denial, blame, guilt and a continuing struggle to heal emerges.
New evidence suggests that women pack up their social baggage from childhood and tote it to the office with their briefcases. Professional relationships among women at work are mired in the same dynamics that propelled them into hurtful behaviours in their younger years. Now the stakes are higher – their career is on the line. More than that, the male -dominated organizational structures of the workplace may actually foster resentment, cut-throat competition and power struggles among female bosses and their employees. After four decades of feminist efforts and hard won parity with men, a woman’s success may well come at the expense of her own sex.