Magazine article The New Yorker

Smells like Teen Spirit

Magazine article The New Yorker

Smells like Teen Spirit

Article excerpt

Catherine Hardwicke's new film, "Thirteen," has once again raised the issue of adolescent girls' social rituals, especially the more brutal aspects. The same topic propels two recent books, Rachel Simmons's ODD GIRL OUT (Harcourt) and QUEEN BEES AND WANNABES(Three Rivers), by Rosalind Wiseman. According to Simmons, adolescent female culture is fraught with treachery and strained niceties ("alternative aggressions," she calls them) that are more reminiscent of a sixteenth-century court than a sweet-sixteen party. Wiseman, whose book has been released in paperback, includes a set of charts that plot "power plays" and track the ascendance of a socially dominant girl, a "Queen Bee" among the drones. But by collecting the byzantine stories of betrayal, both authors provide a tonic to social isolation: as Simmons puts it, "What crushed girls was being alone. …

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