Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Mean Girls = Mean Women

Queen BeesThe other night, a woman I know leaned in, quite conspiratorially, and all but “Pssst!” in my ear as she asked a question that could only be identified as bait. Slimy and smelling of fish, it was a question I knew she already had the answer to, yet with eyebrows raised, she asked me to provide her with sensitive information about another woman in our circle of acquaintances. When I turned away from her unappetizing hook, she shrugged and went ahead and provided me with the answer and then… asked my opinion about it. I may look guppy-like, despite my years – but I wasn’t biting. You know why? Because I knew she was going to use whatever I said against me. She was what is known in bully circles as The Banker.

You see, where men run in packs and do the whole Alpha Male thing and things are pretty much exactly as they seem, women’s circles are much more complex, with weird and variant emotional cubby holes, sort of like a beehive. About a dozen years ago there was a wonderful book written by Rosalind Wiseman called Queen Bees and Wannabees that described the ways girls form cliques and move about their social circles. It was the book that partly inspired the movie Mean Girls.

I have news for you, if you didn’t already know: Mean Girls grow up into Mean Women.

In Queen Bees, the way females interact falls into seven basic personality types, all vying for the attention of the Queen Bee. My Maternal Unit could be easily be described as a Queen Bee and it isn’t hard to identify some of the bugs who buzz around her. I could name them here (as they’re all in my phone’s list of Contacts), but I’ll describe them instead and maybe you’ll recognize some of them from your own honeycomb:

1. The Queen Bee: The girl at the top of the social pyramid, the one who manipulates those around her in order to wield ultimate power and influence.

2. The Side Kick: She pays attention to everything the Queen Bee does, because she wants to ultimately be the Queen Bee and she will do everything she’s told by the Queen Bee. Being the BFF of #1 Bee #2 makes her feel more popular and included.

3. The Floater: This one buzzes in and out of different groups and is pretty benign, all things considered, since she doesn’t like anyone to feel badly.

4. The Torn Bystander: Always going back and forth about what is right, what is wrong and her allegiance to the hive. This is the one voted most likely to be caught in the middle of a fracas.

5. The Pleaser/Wannabe/Messenger: This one really should be titled Bee #3 because she will do anything to stay in the good graces of the Queen Bee #1 and her #2 Sidekick. She is often the liaison and seemingly doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong, because she goes whichever way the wind (or the group opinion) blows.

6. The Banker: To me, this is the most toxic and poisonous fish in the tank… I mean bee in the hive. She pumps people for information, using it to put her in the good graces of the Queen and she is oh, so sneaky about it. For example, she’ll ask you if you think the Queen is fat and if you so much as slightly nod or smile nervously, she will go back and tell Her Royal Majesty that you think those pants make the royal butt look big. While you and I both know that’s not what happened.

7. The Target: She’s a victim, one bullied by the other girls so they can use her to show their power off to one another.

Sigh. It pains me to know that I may have just laid out the basic floorplan to a whole lot of PTA rosters and various other organizations where women gather. Honestly, sometimes women can be their own worst enemies, because of the battles they wage, all in the name of becoming, or being close to, the Queen Bee.

Sun Tzu (or Sunzi), an ancient Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher from the Zhou Dynasty was known to have said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Well, to me – you have to be able to identify the enemy in order to do that. Old Sun Tzu also said, “If you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles…if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” I just hope that now that you know their names, you can avoid being stung.

A bee is never as busy as it seems; it’s just that it can’t buzz any slower.” ~ Kin Hubbard

In social matters, pointless conventions are not merely the bee sting of etiquette, but the snake bite of moral order.” ~ Florence King

Mean Girls, Meaner Women —

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