The Amazon link will take you to the book that I read, but i feel I should mention, if you do want to give this book a go, you might want to get the revised edition. The first edition was written in the early aughts, right before social media explosion, and I assume that might change a bit of Simmons’ theories. (I can’t completely vouch for the revised edition, I haven’t read it, but this edition was quite good, so I imagine the revised one will also be good.)
I had a hard time getting on board the Anti-Bullying buzzword train that left the station a few years ago. Yes, I have been the victim of bullying. But, if I want to be completely honest, I’ve also been the bully. Simmons would call what I did “alternative aggressions” because it doesn’t look or smell like traditionally bullying, but I feel this just creates another meaningless division between what girls do vs. what boys do. In my circle of friends, there was one girl I could not stand. Now, I didn’t shove her into a locker or say nasty things to her face, but I did talk about her behind her back, purposely exclude her from things and participate in lots of double meaning/reading between the lines conversations. Since my goal was to make her feel bad about herself, I’m pretty confident I can swallow my pride and call what I did bullying.
Simmons worked with tween and teen girls in several schools to document the titular hidden culture of aggression in girls. I think Tina Fey probably did more to bring this issue to light, but since this book was written a few years before we all learned that on Wednesday, we wear pink, I’ll give it a pass. For some, I doubt what Simmons uncovered is going to be a shock. If you were a teenage girl, none of this is going to be revolutionary.
All in all, I think it’s still a good read, especially for anyone raising girls. It’s easy to be on the outside looking in and not register how much pain a pointed look between two girls can be for the third girl. Teenage girl language is mostly an unspoken affair and it’s hard to describe to a parent or teacher that “they looked at me and started whispering” is a real issue.