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Mean Girls Grown Up: Adult Women Who Are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid-to-Bees Hardcover – September 7, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dellasega expands on her previous study of relationship aggression in adolescent females (Girl Wars) in this exploration of how such toxic behavior may continue on into adulthood. Addressed primarily to victims (Afraid to Bees) of aggression by other women in the workplace, family, church, school and even in feminist organizations, the author also advises the aggressors (Queen Bees) and those who enable them (Middle Bees). Many dramatic anecdotes describe harrowing wounds inflicted by aggressive female supervisors; devious behavior by competitive colleagues; and mothers-in-law who criticize and belittle their sons' wives. Dellasega provides strategies for dealing with bullies and cautions Middle Bees that their role will bring them guilt and anxiety. Queen Bees, she warns, will lose self-esteem and all possibility of satisfying connections with women. To overcome all three self-defeating patterns, the author recommends positive confrontation, working on self-awareness and reaching out to other women for more satisfying relationships. But Dellasega's simplistic categorizing of women into three classes and her assumption that all forms of relationship aggression fit into the same mold help make this a minor addition to the literature on female aggression. (Oct. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Inside Flap

At one time or another, almost every woman has been involved in bullying. Whether her role was that of victim, aggressor, or bystander, the pain of relational aggression (female bullying) lasts long after the incident has passed. For those who get stuck in the mean girl role, the emotional warfare of high school can continue. As adults, these women hone their skills in verbal sabotage and behavioral put-downs. From the PTA clique to the carpool, from the gym to the boardroom, every woman knows someone who is suffering from the devastating dynamic of relational aggression.

In Mean Girls Grown Up, Cheryl Dellasega explores why women are often their own worst enemies, offering practical advice for a variety of situations. She introduces you to the "bees" of grade school who, as adults, are still involved in the same harmful dynamic: the Queen Bee, a bully who buzzes from place to place undermining and manipulating others; the Middle Bee, a go-between who spreads gossip or stands by as others do so; and the Afraid-to-Bee who retreats into passivity and is a target for aggression.

Drawing upon extensive research and interviews, Dellasega shares stories from women who have encountered these bees as well as the knowledge of experts who have helped women overcome the negative effects of aggression. You'll hear how adult women can be just as competitive and callous as their younger counterparts, using backstabbing, betrayal, harassment, misrepresentation, and exclusion to wound others.

You'll also discover:

  • Why women often deal with conflicts differently from the way men do
  • Strategies for dealing with women who use relationships to inflict hurt or prevent you from achieving your goals
  • How to protect yourself from being involved in deception, bullying, and other harmful behaviors

Dellasega outlines how women can change their behavior successfully by shifting away from aggression and embracing a spirit of cooperation in interactions with others. Even if bee-type behaviors have plagued you since adolescence, Mean Girls Grown Up will help you let go of aggression or passivity, move on, and create relationships that are healthier and happier for you and the women around you.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (September 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471655171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471655176
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,324,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is full of compelling anecdotes but the author divided women into 3 simplistic stereotypes that reduce its usefulness. My vote goes to a similar book that is more indepth, "In the Company of Women". This book is a great step forward in identifying the problem, but less on creating solutions.

For example one story in Mean Girls tells a story of a woman trying everything she can to make a bad situation good. She clung to her abusive job only to get fired; it was declared a victory and positive example by the author because this woman's behavior showed her son 'not to give up'. Talking yourself out of finding a better situation and staying in a work environment where you're getting poor reviews and your self-esteem is getting battered despite good work -- that's a lesson in martyrdom, not strength. It actually exemplifies what people with good intentions do to make themselves and their families miserable. Why hurt your career, let alone mental and physical health when life has so much to offer?

Oddly I've read two books on female aggression talk about the same bullying, obsessive personalities that don't even mention personality disorders. Google "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" and "Borderline Personality Disorder" to get better perspective and stronger advice. Statistically women tend to be more likely diagnosed with these disorders, yet the two books I've read on the topic of female aggression dance around these characteristics without addressing NP & BPD directly.

Dealing with someone who has a disorder is a whole other ballgame than a initiating a healthy conversation about improving a working relationship. Confronting bullying behavior in almost any way with a personality disordered co-worker is almost guaranteed to make the problem worse.

There is a lot of info out there on how to handle people with these disorders that the books don't provide.
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Format: Hardcover
In her book, MEAN GIRLS GROW UP, Dr. Cheryl Dellasega, provides a comprehensive view of the uniquely female issue of Relational Aggression. She demonstrates how the bullying, gossiping, hurt, spite and often-vicious social hierarchy that exists in young girls (it reaches its peak in junior high) continues throughout adulthood. While RA or Relational Aggression becomes far more subtle in adults it continues to exist in the workplace, the club or organization, the neighborhood, the gym and countless other spaces where we spend our lives. In reading it I began to look at the social interactions around me with new eyes. While there are no longer mean girls (Queen Bees in the language of the book) surrounded by a gang of manipulative followers (Middle Bees in Dellasega's terminology) ruthlessly teasing the victim-outcasts (called Afraid-To-Bees), the paradigm remains. Bosses and leaders can bully while co-workers so-called friends can spread poisonous gossip or stand idly by while another woman is picked upon or mocked. However now these roles are cloaked in the so-called respectability of leadership and job descriptions.

But Dellasega does far more than merely bring these behaviors to light. Rather that simply showing her readers the paradigm, she attempts to show us how to change it. While the opening sections of the books are dedicated to exhaustive stories of RA (and sometimes some rather awful poetry as well), the latter portions deal with how to recognize, reshape and restructure our own roles in the paradigm. She reminds the reader that each of these rolls (Queen Bee, Middle Bee and Afraid-To-Bee) is the negative reaction to fear and insecurity and that through recognition, understanding and reshaping of our own behaviors we can begin to heal. In some senses, Dr.
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By Ken C on September 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
My wife, my daughter and I all read this book. My wife and daughter each identified with the stories contained in the book about how adolescent female bullying survives into adulthood. I was fascinated to hear each of them relate how they had been bullied - things I had never known - and how each admitted that they, too, at times had been the bullier. It sparked a wonderful family discussion that still continues at meals. These discussions are not common in our house and I appreciate the author who could trigger the debates we now have about our conduct in everyday life. Although I picked this book up with reluctance, thinking it was a "chick" book, I am happy to give it five stars.
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Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend that every adult woman read this book. I could hardly put it down because it touched on so many areas that affect all women.

It is so refreshing to read a book that confirms and gives a name to what you see happening every day. We just thought junior high behavior ended after high school! This book identifies and offers advice on how to work with different personality types, whether you are a stay-at-home mom with volunteer jobs or are working outside the home.

I recognized many women (and, of course, me) in Dr. Dellasega's book. It was thought provoking, insightful, and it made me evaluate the work and friend relationships I have with other women.

I plan to give this book as a gift to all my women friends.
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Format: Hardcover
Mean Girls Grown Up is a thorough perspective of the toxic effect of female interactions that dominate our culture today. Dr. Dellasega makes a very reputable explanation of Relational Aggression (RA) and how women use it in personal and professional settings. She categorizes the components of the players in RA into recognizable characters, while including practical real life stories as examples. Mean Girls brought back a flood of memories for me of failed friendships that finally made sense to me. It really helped me to know myself better. The best part is the genuine support given as we learn to change these behaviors that keep us from relating to each other in positive ways. All women should read this book!
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