Monday, December 17, 2007

Self-Analysis

While at the library last week, I picked up Mean Girls Grown Up. I was hoping for some sort of insight into the female group dynamic. Sadly, this is just a pile of pop-psychology tripe. While the author, Cheryl Dellasega, PhD, is a professor of psychology, she bases this whole book on anecdotes from women around her and has little input at all, and certainly no actual research to back up her assertions about what she terms "Relational Aggression" (aka bullying).

In Dellasega's dichotomy, there are three types of women: Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid to Bees. (The names themselves are so uninspired I feel foolish even relating them.) Queen Bees are directly aggressive, Middle Bees are manipulators, and Afraid to Bees are victims.

Because this book is structured as written anecdotes by women who have observed or acted in the dictated behaviors, there is no discussion from Dellasega about motivations for these behaviors or objective descriptors. Unless you swallow everything wholesale, the whole book has no meaning. For example, Dellasega asserts that patterns of behavior set in middle school are essentially the same patterns a woman will follow as an adult. How horrible! In this scheme, there is no way to alter behaviors, react to behaviors, and eventually be in control of one's own destiny.

What I was really hoping for when I saw this title was--well, perhaps a little selfish. When I think of a "mean girl grown up," I think of "Corrine" at my last job, the reason that I'm not at that job anymore. In that situation, I was essentially powerless to stop what happened. I was hoping for some insight, some dissection of behavior patterns that would allow me to anticipate the actions of any future Corrines I might encounter. Something that would help me build on my own understanding of interpersonal relationships.

Today, "Mean Girls Grown Up" is going back to the library. I'm sure there are better resources about the dynamics of women's relationships.

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