Teasing, Gossiping and Reputations

Teasing and gossip swirl around your daughter's head every day and they're the lifeblood of cliques and popularity. While your daughter may feel that they provide the forum for bonding with her friends, teasing and gossip can also act as powerful weapons to pit girls against each other. Here's a look:

Teasing: Bad teasing happens both inside and out of the clique, and either way, it's ugly. The teasing is done precisely to put the recipient in her place. First, she's relentlessly teased about something she's insecure about; girls always seem to know exactly what to say to cause the most humiliation. Second, she's dismissed or put down when she defends herself ("Can't you take a joke?" "What are you making such a big deal of this for?"). Often the result is that she ends up apologizing for speaking up in the first place ("I'm sorry, I'm such an idiot") or swallowing it lest she lose her place in the clique.

Gossiping: Along with teasing, gossiping is one of the fundamental weapons that girls use to humiliate each other and reinforce their own social status. Gossip is so humiliating because girls' natural self-focus means that they literally feel like the whole world notices everything they do, and what's said about them and their social status in school often serves as the basis for their self-identity. What do girls gossip about? In middle school: conflicts with friends, rivalries between cliques, boys and crushes; in high school: who had sex at the last party, who got drunk or did drugs, who's getting used.

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