Cliques: critiqued for catty cruelty

Many young people are exposed to cliques in one way or another during their adolescent years, and can usually relate to either being a part of the “in-group” or the “out-group”.

Alana Massey’s piece brought up several interesting ideas about cliques which stood out to me. Gender is considered in the “hyper-feminine” representation of all-female cliques which are also culprits of “cattiness, exclusivity, cruelty and ruthless social ambition”. This portrayal of female friend groups is something that I have personally observed in my experience with cliques, and made me wonder why we don’t observe the same behaviours in male friend groups. Massey does mention hazing rituals involving young men, however, she states that social settings involving girls, such as young women’s lunch tables are more critiqued for “traumatizing adolescent social behaviours”. In addition, how come all-female cliques are the most critiqued for such behaviour whereas mixed groups and all-male groups are not seen as backstabbing, catty or cruel (within their own group). How and why are we socialized into believing that this is normal behaviour through popular culture?

The way that friend groups are portrayed in films and TV shows have an influence on how teenagers behave today. There are countless representations of superficial, catty, and downright mean female cliques in popular culture, but the same is not entirely true for male and mixed groups. This reflects directly onto youth today where gossip and cattiness has been normalized in female friend groups and not their male counterparts.

Massey, B. A. (2016, May 26). The Clique Imaginary. Retrieved October 14, 2016, from


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