Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mean Girls

Posted by Teresa at 3:58 PM

@ Yahoo! Video

I find an interesting article on ABC News today discussing
research that watching meanness on television made females
more likely to be rude. Excerpt of the article:

Brigham Young University professor Sarah Coyne and colleagues
asked 53 British college-aged women to watch one of three video
clips, featuring either physical aggression (a knife fight from Kill
), relational aggression (a montage from Mean Girls) or no
aggression (a séance scene from the horror movie What Lies
). They then filled out a brief questionnaire and were
allowed to leave the room. Right outside was another researcher
who asked if they would like to participate in a study involving
reaction times.

Once the women agreed to take part, the researcher behaved
rudely, telling them to hurry. When they showed uneasiness, she
said, "Great! This is really going to screw things up!"

The researcher left the room, and the subjects took two tests
that are commonly used to test aggression.

Subjects who viewed the Kill Bill and the Mean Girls clips
reacted in similarly aggressive ways. Prompted to subject
the rude researcher to a sharp noise by pushing a button,
they turned up the noise louder than a control group. They
also gave lower scores than the control group on an
evaluation form that supposedly was going to be used to
decide whether the researcher should be hired.

Last week actress America Ferrera had some interesting comments
on the very same topic:

The star hates the way the shows portray and encourage girls to
backstab each other. She tells Seventeen magazine, "Close, genuine
female relationships are not what generally gets depicted in movies
and TV shows. Like, if you're watching The Hills, or 90210, all the
backstabbing shapes the way we act - you go to school and you think
your job is to find a sworn enemy and be jealous of each other. Shows
like Gossip Girl kind of condition us to be mean."

Notice how she says television "condition[s] us" to mean. I'm not so sure
it's television that makes women "catty" and mean. Some of it I think is
biological. For some reason females simply like to gossip more. Also
women tend to be more relational, therefore, possibly taking perceived
slights more personally than a man would. I think as women we should
fight extra hard to resist the urge to gossip. However, I would agree
television and movies probably don't make things easy for young women
because it makes it seem fun and glamorous and it's not. There's nothing
fun about being jealous or talking behind someone's back. What do you
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