I read an interesting article on Relational Aggression & have decided to order the book, Mean Girls Grow Up. It seems some women choose to bully through gossip, slander & lying about other women. It's so passive aggressive & I can't stand it! We leave junior high for a reason girls...
What is Relational Aggression?
It happens when you least expect it: the sudden, painful sting that hurts deeply, because you thought you were in a safe place, with other women and immune from harm. A word, a gesture, or some other seemingly innocuous behavior can be all it takes to wound in a way that hurts more than any physical blow. This is female relational aggression (RA): the subtle art of emotional devastation that takes place every day at home, at work, or in community settings. Unlike openly aggressive men, women learn early on to go undercover with these assaults, often catching their victims unaware. Many carry this behavior into adulthood.
RA is the use of relationships to hurt another, a way of verbal violence in which words rather than fists inflict damage. RA seems to peak in the early teen years when girls use a variety of behaviors that wound without ever pulling a punch. Word wars are often dismissed as "just the way girls are," or "she's just jealous." Whether or not you're a mother, you probably understand these scenarios intuitively: the girl who gets excluded from a crowd she previously belonged to; the newcomer who fails to be accepted by other girls no matter what she does; the girl who is somehow different and targeted for that reason; or the popular Queen Bee, who buzzes from place to place spreading discomfort and manipulating others with her words. Sounds pretty juvenile, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, some women never outgrow these behaviors, turning into adults who slay with a smile and wound with a word. The mean girls of middle school may change into grown-up "shrews," "witches," "prima donnas," but underneath, the same game that started in grade school is still being played. In and out of the workplace, as individuals and in groups, these women continue to interact in aggressive ways reminiscent of high school hallways where girls jockeyed for social status.
After encounters with such women, you walk away wondering exactly what happened, and, sometimes, why you care so much. In a search for answers, you may even reflect back on your adolescent years, when behaviors such as jealousy, gossip, and forming cliques were the modus operandi. You may remember the moments when you sighed thankfully, thinking it was all behind you. The end result, when you discover it isn't over, is feelings of confusion, hurt, and even fear.
My friend's daughter is experiencing this bullying behavior in the 7th grade. Sadly, many adult women experience it still.
Social scientists and psychologists have recently invented a new classification of bullying that reflects the above perspective on aggression. Relational aggression. Interpretations of current research attach the label of relational aggressor almost exclusively to women.
Socially, we underestimate the type of aggressive behavior characterized as relational aggression because it has a more elusive, indirect outcome than the easily observed physical aggression normally associated with the behavior of men.
Relational aggression takes form as verbal threats and abuse. Relational bullies exercise their negative intent by directing hurtful statements to their victims and, of greater significance, talking about their victims to others.
This type of aggression uses the threat of social isolation to hurt the victim. The bully's advantage resides in the value the victim places on belonging to a family, school, workplace or other group.
Ironically, the most powerful advantage comes not from the bully but from the victim: the pro-social constraint of the victim, the universal yearning for relationship, provides all the advantage the bully ever needs. Once a potential victim exhibits social constraint, or responsibility, the bully knows he or she can safely maneuver the situation to the very brink of disgrace. Counting on the integrity of the victim's constraints, the bully pushes the boundary of socially acceptable behavior and demands that the victim either leave or submit.
Call Out the Lies ASAP
Bottom line - the bully sees the woman at PTO, church, bunko, where ever, who won't call her out on her behavior and goes in for the kill. She knows she can get away with her behavior because the "nice girls" will not make a scene or call her out on her behavior in public.
This is where healthy boundaries are key and calling people out on inappropriate behavior is a must. Even if it is borderline passive aggressive, having a discussion about intentions is important. I wrote about tips on dealing with mean girls. Check it out HERE
To learn more visit these sights:
Relational Aggression- Every Day or No Way?
Mean Girls Grow Up
Relational Aggression Blog
Have you dealt with this kind of behavior? How did you handle it?
Here's to dealing with mean girls,
Kicking Mean Girls Butts Like...