Book: Mean Girls Grown Up
by Cheryl Dellasega
"Mean girls grow up to be mean women, make no mistake about that," said a woman to a radio talk show host. This is but one of many antedotes Cheryl Dellasega uses in her book Mean Girls Grown Up: Adult Women who are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid-to Bees. An author of six books dealing with female relationships, Dellasega uses her background as a nurse practitioner and director of a girl's anti-bully camp to craft a book that highlights the unique ways women use to bully one another.
Dellasega introduces the term relational agression (RA) which is the way people hurt one another emotionally through non-physical means. Some of weapons in the female arsenal include: backstabbing, malicious gossip, snide remarks, exclusion, and put downs disguised as humor. She describes three types of roles that women often emulate in group situations: the agressor Queen Bee, the go betweener Middle Bee, and the picked-on Afraid-to-Bee. Through dozens of stories and interviews with psychologists, Dellasega illustrates that such characters exist everywhere: in workplaces, PTAs, churches, and neighborhoods.
There is hope for dealing with the Bees (especially the Queenie!). A former Afraid-to-Bee said, "Finally, after so many years, I'm scoring victories rather than racking up failures." The book emphasizes that women must change their own behavior in order to effectively ward off others who are determined to make their lives miserable. Women must have open and honest lines of communication with one another, refrain from gossip, and have the courage to confront the bully either individually or as a group.
Dellasega advocates learning how to positively connect with others in order to help to provide a bully-free environment. A healthy group setting would consist of women willing to participate in gracious acts such as offering sincere compliments, asking one another for advice and opinions, and thanking those who have offered their help.
The book's appendix includes tips on how to enhance communication such as using positive nonverbal communication, talking assertively, and learning e-mail etiquette.
I felt the book was quite informative and the individual stories of the tormented women suggested to me that RA is alive and well even when we are supposed to be "liberated". I liked the section about how we can become a lighted beacon in the dark waters by learning how to become a positive influence. This book can serve as a wonderful tool for us to stake those stingers off the Bees and live harmoniously in our female-dominated environments.