Queen Bees and Wannabes: a parents' up-to-date guide to the perils of "girl-world"
It's been fifteen years since the first edition of educator Rosalind Wiseman's Queen Bees and Wannabes was published; now in its third edition -- updated with current, timely material about social media and other fast-moving subjects, as well as reflections from girls who were raised on the techniques in the previous editions -- the book is a compassionate, aware, and intensely practical guide to navigating the toxic, gendered lives of young girls in a diverse, politicized world.
Wiseman starts from the observation that girls form cliques for many reasons, and many of them are healthy and supportive, but that these cliques can also be a hazard to the mental health, happiness, physical and sexual safety and educations of the girls at all levels of the social pecking order.
The book begins with a theory that tries to explain why girls form these groups -- the need to fit in, or reject, or at least navigate, the feminine "ideals" that are imposed on them (and that they perpetuate). This theory runs through the book and is used as a tool to unpick the complex and difficult situations that arise when girls pressure each other into mean behavior, or exclude one another, or get in over their heads (it's also a tool that Wiseman uses to analyze the best of the intense friendships girls often form). Wiseman also applies a corollary of this theory to explain the way that boys interact with one another and with girls, but I get the impression that if you're interested in how this stuff applies to boys, you should read her book on the subject, Masterminds and Wingmen.
But Queen Bees isn't a why book so much as it's a what and how book: as in "OK, my kid is inconsolable, or in trouble, or acting really viciously -- what do I do about it and how do I do it?"
That's where Queen Bees shines: it's a book about how to get past your parental upset, fear and anger, and come up with compassionate, individualized strategies that parents and daughters can work through together (there's also material on dealing with the toxic parents in your kid's social circle, but again, Wiseman's written an entire book on this: Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads. The advice contains few absolutes, and where they appear, they are surprising. Wiseman says that you should almost never be looking at (or spying on) your daughter's mobile devices (she makes an exception for imminent danger, such as a strong suspicion that she is being physically or sexually abused). But she does say that you should take away your kids' phones at bedtime and give them back in the morning.
As I mentioned, this is the third edition, updated in 2016, and there's a lot of extremely practical, road-tested material that relates to the unique complications of life in this decade: what to do if your kid is the subject of a "So-and-so is a slut Facebook group" (or if your kid creates such a group!). These scripts and tools are interspersed with testimonials from aggressors, victims and parents of both who survived these experiences, reflecting on what worked.
My daughter just turned nine and is starting to intersect with these issues. We've had a couple of bumps this school year (that's why a friend recommended the book to me). I finished reading it on a business trip and called my daughter from the road to discuss it with her and she made me promise to read some of it at bedtime when I returned.
Queen Bees and Wannabes [Rosalind Wiseman/Harmony]
Studio North was commissioned to refit an old elevator shaft in a converted warehouse loft in Calgary; they built a tall, narrow library with climbable shelves whose hand- and foot-holds retract into the shelving.
Libretaxi is an open source project that lets anyone become a rideshare driver in less than a minute; it has more than 20,000 users worldwide, and is maintained by Roman Pushkin, who started the project in December 2016 and is now planning to quit his job and work on it full time.
Mister Alphabet is an action-figure designed to cleverly bend and contort into every letter of the Latin alphabet; the website is long on trademark warnings and arty Instagram photos, but short on details, like, “Is this an object of commerce?” and “If so, where does one buy it?” (via Kottke)
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]
Custom coffee vessels are the perfect piece of office flair, but it’s just a matter of time before your VOTE FOR PEDRO mug will start to lose its relevant wit. Why not have a new one every day, with whatever silly nonsense you want sticking off the sides? You can save big on your novelty […]
The Lightning port has thus far resisted the cruel fate that befell the headphone jack, and despite rumors that it may be disappearing come iPhone 8, for the present and foreseeable future, Lightning cables are a hot commodity for iPhone users. As such, we must make do in this strange time in which long, glorified […]