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 social expectations of the non-aggressive females (Eagly and Crowley, 1983; Kaukiainen et al. , 2001). Bjorkqvist et al. (1992b), stated that this method of indirect aggression is called covert, where they are masked to not appear aggressive. This could be gossiping about so-called true facts, or even giving a dirty look, which could be explained as accidental or misdirected. Some of these biological and socio-cultural factors interact with cognitive development (Maccoby and Jacklin, 1980). Adolescent girls focus on small, exclusive friendships, and feel they need to be connected with others, which develops social skills, emotional intimacy, and expression and self-disclosure (Adler et al. , 1992).
Also according to Adler et al. , (1992), this develops a peer culture of compliance and conformity. This means that once girls form a group and become close and conformed, it offers more opportunities for indirect and verbal victimization to have hurtful affects on others (Alson and Romer, 1996; Bjorkqvist et al. , 1992a). For some reason, these hurtful things tend to strengthen the relational bonds between the perpetrators (Adler et al. , 1992). Social aggression is defined as behavior that is directed toward harming another’s self-esteem, social status, or both (Galen and Underwood, 1997).
Galen and Underwood, (1997), also state that this aggression may take the form of verbal rejection, negative facial expressions or body movement, spreading rumors or social exclusion. This is one of the best definitions of social aggression because it includes the nonverbal displays of social exclusion, and because it best describes the function of these behaviors, to do social harm (Stacey S. Horn, 2003). There are many things in this world that can impact why girls behave as aggressive as they do during adolescent times.
Body image is one of the largest issues. Body image dissatisfaction is described as a pervasive problem experienced by a large proportion of society (Polivy and Herman, 2002). In particular, there is a desire for thinness among women, which has become so prevalent, that it is identified as a “normative discontent” (Rodin et al. , 1985). This is starting to effect even preadolescents and girls as young as 8 are becoming dissatisfied with their bodies (Cusumano and Thompson, 2001).
This preadolescent and adolescent body dissatisfaction proposes as a risk factor for lower self-esteem, increased eating disorder symptoms, and depression (Ricciardelli and McCabe, 2001a). These body issues may cause girls to feel self-conscious, which in turn may make them act aggressively towards other girls. This may be because the other girl is skinnier, or maybe they are larger, but they want the negative attention to be on the other girl instead. The media is also very much to blame for adolescent girls thinking that they need to be skinny.
D. C. Jones (2004), stated that most young girls will engage in conversations about pop stars or models and how that is the “ideal thinness. ” The main topic of adolescent girls’ conversations shouldn’t be about wishing they were thin like the stars in television. Aside from media effecting girls views of their bodies, the media can also negatively affect the way girls treat others. Movies such as Mean Girls (2004), display forms of aggression such as, social exclusion, ridicule, and gossip, that girls use to maintain a social status (Emilio C.
Ulloa and Monica D. Ulibarri, 2005). When girls see the way these girls on movies act, they start acting in the same ways, because they want the same kind of social status. Not all media has negative affects on adolescent girls, however. There are books such as Queen Bees and Wanabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman (2004) and Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls by Lyn Mikel Brown (2003) (Emilio C.
Ulloa and Monica D. Ulibarri, 2005). These books describe the effects of rejection, exclusion, and ridicule, and provide ways to deal with these problems. So why is it that girls tend to follow these trends of being mean and excluding other girls? Lyn Mikel Brown (2003) looks at girl fighting and adolescent aggressiveness from a very interesting perspective in her book, Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls.
Brown (2003) states that girls are discouraged from expressing strong feelings, and are pressured to fulfill unrealistic expectations to be popular. Brown (2003) also states that girls are struggling to find their place in a society that still reinforces gender stereotypes, and places greater value on boys. With girls under all of this pressure, they unconsciously find it easier to take their frustration out on other girls instead of boys for the way they treat girls, the way media presents them, or the way culture supports sexist practices (Brown, 2003).
In Wiseman’s (2004) book, Queen Bees and Wanabees, she asks the question, “Why do teenage and preteen girls so often reject their parents and turn to their girlfriends instead, even when those friends often treat them so cruelly? ” No matter how mean a group of girls are to one girl, that girl will still go back to them for help, because she feels they know her best, and that her parents don’t have a clue about the situation (Wiseman, 2004). According to Wiseman (2004) these friendships are double-sided swords; they are the key to surviving adolescence, but can be the biggest threat to survival as well.
The problem of ridicule and rejection among girls seems to go unnoticed by many teachers in schools, or at least they don’t do much to solve the problem. Without the help of these administrators, the problem will never be fixed. Research attention and intervention efforts are traditionally focused on overt aggression (mainly boys and their physical aggression), which has limited the understanding of conflict among females (Card, Stucky, Sawalani, and Little, 2008). Lately there has been a little more attention on adolescent female’s problems, however.
Researchers have indentified more covert forms of aggression that use social relationships as a main cause of harm, and the awareness of the “mean” behavior among girls (Cairns and Cairns, 1994). They have now come up with the term “relational aggression” which is describes behaviors aimed at damaging another’s friendships or feelings of inclusion in a peer group (Crick and Grotpeter, 1995). Crick and Grotpeter (1995) also state that some examples of relational aggression include spreading rumors, gossiping, exclusion from a group, and ignoring.
Understanding the motives of why girls act in this relational aggressive way is important for school policy and intervention (Merrell, Buchanan, and Tran, 2006). It is important for more teachers, researchers, and even parents, to understand why adolescent girls are behaving in such harsh manors. It has been well documented that repeated experience of relational aggression, and victimization, is associated with adjustment difficulties, such as depression, loneliness, anxiety, and low self-esteem (Archer and Coyne, 2005).
Not only do the victims suffer from these issues, but it very well could affect the perpetrators as well, which is why this issue needs to be looked at more carefully. Discussion Throughout this paper, the issue of adolescent girl’s aggressiveness is looked at from many different angles. There are many biological, and social reasons why girls act the way they do towards others. I, personally, never stopped to think about why this is so. Being a teenage girl myself, it never occurred to me all of the stuff that could be unconsciously making me act harshly towards others.
I was fascinated by the research I found about the way our world still views women. Most people think that things are starting to become fair, and men and women are looked at the same way, but it isn’t true. Society has different expectations that boys and girls are suppose to follow. While girls are in their adolescent stage, they are having problems with their bodies, and everything else, and it makes them want to take it out on other girls, but society expects them not to.
Girls are viewed more harshly than boys if they get into a physical fight, but for whatever reason, if they spread rumors, no one gives it a second thought, they just think “girls will be girls. ” In conclusion, girls have many aspects of their lives that make them the way they are. Whether it be getting looked down upon by boys, or not being as skinny as the model on TV, the standards are set very high, and most girls crack under the pressure.