posted on June 19, 2012 at 4:31 am
We’ve seen it over and over again on television shows and movies: Cliques led by backstabbing girls and sabotaging BFFs looking to forward their own agendas. Girls being mean and catty is the norm, it seems.
The following scene from Mean Girls is a prime example.
But are these depictions actually the truth? Are girls and women really this mean to each other in real life? Apparently not!
A recent study by non-profit organization Catalyst focuses on women in the workplace. It concluded that women are not focused on competing with female subordinates to get ahead, nor are they sabotaging their “minions’” in an effort to succeed. Instead, they’re choosing to mentor them and help develop their talents.
The notion that women executives are Queen Bees who are unwilling to support other women needs to be put to rest (Ilene H. Lang, President & CEO, Catalyst).
So why does the media continue to portray ambitious girls and women as catty, when the reality seems to be the opposite?
Some believe it’s all a distraction or a conspiracy set up by the opposite sex. For example, if girls focus on destroying other girls, then boys or men can focus on their own successes without competition. But I’m not so sure this analysis is the case.
Maybe it’s the media that has the agenda. Their depiction of girls being mean in order to further their own cause could just be an ingredient to add spice to shows. It’s certainly more entertaining, it seems. A good “cat fight” often gets a lot more attention than girls getting along. And even in reality television, producers expect cast members to create controversy by backstabbing and behaving badly.
But is the media portrayal of successful women dangerous? Does it have a negative effect on young girls? Is it turning girls into mean girls, whether directly or indirectly? I don’t think these shows are having that effect consistently. But I do think these shows set a certain precedence, suggesting this is the way girls treat each other and that it’s okay.
In a previous post, Christian Girls Beware! Study Indicates that Reality Shows Affect Self-Image, I discussed another study that demonstrated that young “viewers believe that the shows are reflective of real life and that the antics, such as lying and being mean, are normal, acceptable, and ultimately the best methods for excelling in life.” If this is the case for reality shows, can fictional depictions of mean girls in television shows and movies also prove influential?
Unfortunately–or maybe fortunately–I’m no longer at school, so I can’t answer this question as it relates to teens. So I’ll put the question to you, PI ladies.
Ladies, what do you think about this study’s findings? Do you believe that girls are catty by nature? Are there mean cliques or catty girls in your school?