The sophisticated social structure of Teen Girl World is full of social intrigue and provides a political landscape for some teenagers to assume social power over their peers. Girl cliques are complex and multi-layered and most girls take on a role within the clique. Social positions within the clique are not static, as a girl may lose her position within the hierarchy to another girl and may move up and down the social totem.
In her book, “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” author Rosalind Wiseman suggests that there are at least seven (7) different roles that girls take on within the structure of a social clique. These roles make up the social fabric within the clique and determine how each child will influence or impact relationships with others around them.
The leader of the clique is usually the queen bee. For this girl, her popularity is based on fear and control. Through a combination of charisma, looks, money, will, strength, and manipulation, this girl reigns supreme among her peers and can weaken friendships among other girls, thereby strengthening her own power and influence. Most queen bees are unwilling to acknowledge the cruelty of their actions. She is the center of attention and people value being around her energy and power.
The second in command within the all-girl clique is the Sidekick. She is the closest to the queen bee and will back her no matter what in a thirst to deflect some of her power. She shares the gestures (and often the clothing style!) Of the queen bee. Together, they appear to the other girls as an impenetrable force. They often intimidate and silence other girls to advance their own agenda.
Information and gossip with each other is the currency of the adolescent world. The banker is the role within the girl’s clicks that spreads this seemingly valuable information. Create chaos wherever you go by storing information about your colleagues and distributing it at strategic intervals for your own benefit. The banker can have a lot of power within the clique.
Usually there is a girl in the gang who can also be friends with other girls or be part of another girl gang. This is the role of The Floater. He has friends in different groups and can move freely between them. She may have “protective” characteristics that protect her from the cruelties of other girls, perhaps good looks, good grades, etc. You avoid conflict within your main clique and you may have a higher self-esteem than others because you do not base your self-esteem image on being accepted within the clique.
The Torn Bystander is constantly in conflict between doing the right thing and his allegiance to the clique. She is frequently caught in the middle of conflicts between the other girls. You can even rationalize the disrespectful behavior of the queen bee and others, despite knowing that it is wrong. By partnering with the other girls in the clique, this role values access to popularity and high social status.
Doing anything to be in the good graces of Queen Bee, The Pleaser / Wannabe will enthusiastically back Queen Bee and Sidekick no matter what. She will imitate clothing, style, and whatever else she feels will increase or enhance her position in the group. She is motivated above all else to please the girl above her on the social totem pole. This role is determined not to seem like he’s trying too hard to fit in.
The Target is the victim of the clique, created by the other girls to be humiliated, ridiculed and excluded. The social hierarchy of the clique is maintained by having someone clearly at the bottom of the social totem. Any challenge to the status of the queen bee, or to the balance of power within the group, can make a girl a target of the clique. Many times this role will feel totally powerless over the cruelty of the other girls.
Parents can make a difference at Girl World. Understanding the roles within a girl group can help parents better understand what their daughter may be going through during her middle or high school day. Different parenting styles will affect the way a father reacts to a girl’s experiences in this social structure. Active and healthy listening and exploring problem solving techniques will help girls to be better equipped to navigate Girl World.