Little Mean Girls Are Really, Really Mean

Illustration for article titled Little Mean Girls Are Really, Really Mean

A scourge of toddler mean girls has parents frantic.

Says Gina Barreca, a feminist theory professor, to the New York Post, "Our middle schools are now filled with miniature Medeas...Your average little girl makes Vlad the Impaler seem as empathetic as Oprah."

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To read the article, that doesn't seem like a stretch: we learn about a group of 4-year-old Alphas who refer to themselves as "The A Group" and an 8-year-old's to-do list that reads "1. Clean room (my instructions), 2. Make Nayla miserable, 3. Be mean to Nayla, 4. Pick on Nayla, 5. Terrorize Nayla a bit."

Of course, there have always been jerks and cliques, and any parent who doesn't think so hasn't been in First Grade in a while. But what's different is that the behavior's increasingly precocious: kids are, if you believe some experts, more manipulative and more conscious of social leverage. Parents in the article are quick to blame "media" — be it the sassy infants of contemporary TV or the transparent social machinations of social-networking culture.

Kids' media always had bad apples, but be it Nellie Olsen or Veruca Salt, they were the bad guys — and they got their comeuppance. What's more, they were always backed by enabling, indulgent adults who encouraged their behavior: the bad kids were spoiled. People have pointed to the Harry Potter books as examples of old-fashioned storytelling, and in that regard it's true: Draco, the bad kid, has bad parents (and the heroes, rather than being precociously sassy, are loyal, kind and smart.) Contrast? Tiny Monsters, a new "South Park for 12-year-old girls." The weird part is, the makers seem to be positioning this as...empowerment. Says executive producer Ali Rushfield, "At the age of 12, [girls reach] the apex of their power...That's as powerful as you get until you potentially become like Hillary Clinton." She's comparing being a Mean Girl bully to Secretary of State. If you're looking for some casual issues, here's food for thought.

Too Cruel For School [NY Post]

DISCUSSION

I was a cruel girl at a young age. My friends were cruel girls. I was all too aware of the taunting and social banishment that would befall me if I ever tried to defect from the group. It wasn't until college that I made female friends who were nice to each other without any secret agenda, backstabbing, manipulation, or passive aggressiveness. It was such a relief. I still have so many regrets about those formative years, and I'm ashamed when I see certain people from high school.