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Today is Apologies Day in Rosalind Wiseman's class -- so, naturally, when class lets out, the girls are crying.

Not all 12 of them, but a good half. They stand around in the corridor, snuffling quietly but persistently, interrogating one another. And it's gonna be hard for her too, because if she doesn't do what they want her to do, the popular girls are gonna chuck her out, and they're gonna spread rumors about her or tell people stuff she told them. Wiseman's class is about gossip and cliques and ostracism and just plain meanness among girls. But perhaps the simplest way to describe its goals would be to say that it tries to make middle-school girls be nice to one another.

This link a far trickier project than you might imagine, and Apologies Day is a case in point.

The girls whom Wiseman variously calls the Alpha Girls, the R. The girls who are their habitual victims or hangers-on -- the Wannabes and Messengers in Wiseman's lingo -- are always apologizing anyway. But Wiseman, who runs a nonprofit organization called the Asia Hookup Space Profiles Theatre Portland Program, is a cheerfully unyielding presence. And in the end, her students usually do what she wants: Often as not, it contains a hidden or a not-so-hidden barb.

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We weren't popular, we weren't that pretty, but we had fun together. When we came to this school, we were placed in different classes. I stopped being friends with them and left them to be popular. They despise me now, and I'm sorry for what I did. I haven't apologized because I don't really want to be friends any longer and am afraid if I apologize, then that's how it will result.

We are now in completely different leagues. I'm sorry for excluding you and ignoring you. Also, I have said a bunch of bad things about you. I have also run away from you just because I didn't like you. It really burned your reputation.

I'm really sorry I said these things even though I might still believe them. Wiseman, who is 32 and hip and girlish herself, has taught this class at many different schools, and it is fair to say that although she loves girls, she does not cling to sentimental notions about them. She is a feminist, but not the sort likely to ascribe greater inherent compassion to women or girls as a group than to men or boys. More her style is the analysis of the feminist historian Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, who has observed that ''those who have experienced dismissal by the junior-high-school girls' clique could hardly, with a straight face, claim generosity and nurture as a natural attribute of women.

It's just like they're people I work with and our job is being popular. Wiseman's reaction to the crying girls is accordingly complex. Because it's not usually the victims who cry; it's the aggressors, the girls who have something to apologize for. And sometimes, yes, it's relief on their part, but it's also somewhat manipulative, because if they've done something crappy, the Asia Hookup Space Profiles Theatre Portland they've done it to can't get that mad at them if they're crying.

Hostetter says, after a parakeet who passed away at age Tell us what you think. Back to top Home News U. Smelly in a good way? She's the only one in the class with a moderately sarcastic take on the culture of American girlhood.

Plus, a lot of the time they're using the apology to dump on somebody all over again. Is dumping on a friend really such a serious problem?

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Do mean girls wield that much power? In May, Crown will publish her book-length analysis of girl-on-girl nastiness, ''Queen Bees and Wannabes: And 95 percent of them are the same. I don't like what they're doing. To a large extent, their definitions of intimacy are going to be based on the stuff they're going through in sixth and seventh grade. And that stuff isn't pretty. This focus on the cruelty of girls is, of course, something new. For years, psychologists who studied aggression among schoolchildren looked only at its physical and overt manifestations and concluded that girls were less aggressive than boys.

That consensus began to change in the early 90's, after a team of researchers led by a Finnish professor named Kaj Bjorkqvist started interviewing and year-old girls about their behavior toward one another. The team's read article was that girls were, in fact, just as aggressive as boys, though in a different way.

They were not as likely to engage in physical fights, for example, but their superior social intelligence enabled them to wage complicated battles with other girls aimed at damaging relationships or reputations -- leaving nasty messages by cellphone or spreading scurrilous rumors by e-mail, making friends with one girl as revenge against another, gossiping about someone just loudly enough to be overheard.

Turning the notion of women's greater empathy on its head, Bjorkqvist focused on the destructive uses to which such emotional attunement could be put. Researchers following in Bjorkqvist's footsteps noted that up to the age of 4 girls tend to be aggressive at the same rates and in the same ways as boys -- grabbing toys, pushing, hitting. Later on, however, social expectations force Asia Hookup Space Profiles Theatre Portland hostilities underground, where their assaults on one another are more indirect, less physical and less visible to adults.

Secrets they share in one context, for example, can sometimes be used against them in another. They share so much information when they are friends that they never run out of ammunition if they turn on one another.

In the last few years, a group of young psychologists, including Underwood and Nicki Crick at the University of Minnesota, has visit web page this work much further, observing girls in ''naturalistic'' settings, exploring the psychological foundations for nastiness and asking adults to take relational aggression -- especially in the sixth and seventh grades, when it tends to be worst -- as seriously as they do more familiar forms of bullying.

While some of these researchers have emphasized bonding as a motivation, others have seen something closer to a hunger for power, even a Darwinian drive. Asia Hookup Space Profiles Theatre Portland Australian researcher, Laurence Owens, found that the year-old girls he interviewed about their Asia Hookup Space Profiles Theatre Portland predation were bestirred primarily by its entertainment value.

The girls treated their own lives like the soaps, hoarding drama, constantly rehashing trivia. Owens's studies contain some of the more vivid anecdotes in the earnest academic literature on relational aggression.

Girls Just Want to Be Mean

His subjects tell him about Asia Hookup Space Profiles Theatre Portland tactics like leaving the following message on a girl's answering machine -- Hello, it's me. Have you gotten your pregnancy test back yet? They talk about standing in ''huddles'' and giving other girls ''deaths'' -- stares of withering condescension -- and of calling one another ''dyke,'' ''slut'' and ''fat'' and of enlisting boys to do their dirty work. Relational aggression is finding its chroniclers among more popular writers, too.

In her book, the year-old Asia Hookup Space Profiles Theatre Portland offers a plaintive definition of relational aggression: Within the hidden culture of aggression, girls fight with body language and relationships instead of fists and knives. In this world, friendship is a weapon, and the sting of a shout pales in comparison to a day of someone's silence. There is no gesture more devastating than the back turning away. Not so much silence, anymore, actually. For many school principals and counselors across the country, relational aggression is becoming a certified social problem and the need to curb it an accepted mandate.

A small industry of interveners has grown up to meet the demand. Whether this new hypervigilance about a phenomenon that has existed for as long as most of us can remember will actually do anything to squelch it is, of course, another question.

Should adults be paying as much attention to this stuff as kids do or will we just get hopelessly tangled up in it ourselves? Are we approaching frothy adolescent bitchery with undue gravity or just giving it its due in girls' lives?

On the one hand, it is kind of satisfying to think that girls might be, after their own fashion, as aggressive as boys. It's an idea that offers some relief from the specter of the meek and mopey, ''silenced'' and self-loathing girl the popular psychology of girlhood has given us in recent years. But it is also true that the new attention to girls as relational aggressors may well take us into a different intellectual cul-de-sac, where it becomes too easy to assume that girls do not use their fists some dothat all girls are covert in their cruelties, that all girls care deeply about the ways of the clique -- and that what they do in their ''relational'' lives takes precedence over all other aspects of their emerging selves.

She source to turn down the India Arie CD that's blaring on her stereo so we can hear each other.

The girl she had stayed to talk with after class is still on her mind, partly because she represents the social type for whom Wiseman seems to feel the profoundest sympathy: The subtlety of the maneuvers still amazes Wiseman, though she has seen them time and again.

And what's going to happen is Molly's going to throw her arms around Darcy and talk about things that Kristin doesn't know anything about and be totally physically affectionate with Darcy so that she looks like the shining jewel. And Kristin is, like, I don't exist.

Girls Just Want to Be Mean - The New York Times

She doesn't want to be friends with the Asia Hookup Space Profiles Theatre Portland version of Darcy -- she wants the old one back, but it's too late for that. So to whom, I ask Wiseman, does Kristin turn in her loneliness? Wiseman heaves a sigh as though she's sorry to be the one to tell me an obvious but unpleasant truth. But it's what they do. Hanging out with Wiseman, you get used to this kind of disquisition on the craftiness of middle-school girls, but I'll admit that when my mind balks at something she has told me, when I can't quite believe girls have thought up some scheme or another, I devise little tests for her -- I ask her to pick out seventh-grade Queen Bees in a crowd outside a school or to predict what the girls in the class will say about someone who isn't there that day or to guess which boys a preening group of girls is preening for.

I have yet to catch her out. Once, Wiseman mentions a girl she knows whose clique of seven is governed by actual, enumerated rules and suggests I talk with this girl to get a sense of what reformers like her are up against. Jessica Travis, explains Wiseman, shaking her head in aggravated bemusement at the mere thought of her, is a junior at a suburban Maryland high school and a member of the Girls' Advisory Board that is part of Wiseman's organization.

She is also, it occurs to me when I meet her, a curious but not atypical social type -- an amalgam of old-style Source Bee-ism Asia Hookup Space Profiles Theatre Portland new-style girl's empowerment, brimming over with righteous self-esteem and cheerful cattiness.

Tall and strapping, with long russet hair and blue eye shadow, she's like a Powerpuff Girl come to life. When I ask Jessica to explain the rules her clique lives by, she doesn't hesitate. You cannot wear jeans any day but Friday, and you cannot wear a ponytail or sneakers more than once a week. Monday is fancy day -- like black pants or maybe you bust out with a skirt. You want to remind people how cute you are in case they forgot over the weekend. Of course, we sit down together and discuss which ones we're going to go to, because there's no point in getting all dressed up for a party that's going click here be lame.

No getting smacked at a party, because how would it look for the rest of us if you're drunk and acting like a total fool?

I can just walk in hoping people are going to behave and not be dicks. But there are certain rules of the school system that have been set forth from time immemorial or whatever. The place is also dimly lighted, which, once you examine the kitchen nook in daylight, is probably not such a bad thing. I ask if boys ever put together three-way calls like that.

And if you do hook up with somebody at the party, please try to limit it to one. Otherwise you look like a slut and that reflects badly on all of us. Kids are not that smart; they're not going to make the distinctions between us. And the rules apply to all of us -- you can't be like, 'Oh, I'm having my period; I'm wearing jeans all week.

Storytime: My Oregon Theatre Experience (Portland, OR)

She pauses for a millisecond. She came to school on a Monday in jeans. So I asked her, 'Why you wearing jeans today? Did you forget it was a Monday?