Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Several YA authors, including myself, Zetta Elliott, Sara Ryan, and Kekla Magoon, share our thoughts on "mean girls" in YA literature (as well as popular media) in this post on Chasing Ray. Here are a few quotes:

"Mean girls versus good girls is black versus white. It’s anti-heroine versus heroine. It’s a game, and someone will win. Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s my age, but I grow increasingly interested, as I read and write, in the shades of gray, and what they teach us." --Beth Kephart

"I think one of the limitations of some feminist movements and/or thinkers is the refusal to acknowledge that women aren’t monolithic; they don’t all share the same values or goals, and there’s no automatic instinct for female solidarity that kicks in whenever one of us is in trouble (women of color learned this very early on when dealing with white middle-class feminists; queer women know this about straight women, etc.)." --Zetta Elliott

"I KNOW that most tortured awesome girls will go off into their adult lives and recover, and grow wings and leave the stupid mean girls in a cloud of dust. Most girls won't won't upturn the social order of the lunchroom, so much as they'll outgrow it. It WILL make them stronger in some cases, but slowly, quietly." --Laurel Snyder

"These stories don't typically appeal to me, at least when they're glorifying the mean girls as heroines or role models. I connect with the stories that take the point of view of someone who falls on the outside of these sorts of cliques, and/or suffers on their margins. I do think the archetypal "mean girl" character reflects reality, but only a slice of it. So does the idea of popular girl cliques who step on others in the quest for...whatever it is they're truly after, be it popularity, the illusion of control over their lives, or the lives of others, or simply the heady assurance that they have something other people want. Where I see meanness, I see weakness, and those aren't characters I want to get close to, though they can serve a story in myriad ways." --Kekla Magoon

Go and check out the post; all of the answers are thought-provoking. What do you think about the "mean girls" phenomenon?

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