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Chick Question

Are girls mean? We asked the people who should know, girls of all ages.

No. Well [whispering], 'cept I have one mean friend, Madison and she bites and she's really mean to me.

Monica, 4

If they want to be mean they can be very mean, yes. I think I've done mean things before.

Kristin, 8, student

Girls are ten times meaner than boys. I think boys are too dumb to be really mean. It's not that they're totally dumb, but they don't like pay attention to all the little things, like girls do. But girls, they scope out how to be like super mean to you, and they'll use everything they know about you.

Mindy, 13, student

Girls tried harder to be good at emotional issues in general. Boys didn't care. They were all wrapped up in the physical realm. Girls do their evil little deeds with an almost artistic passion.

Heather, 34, researcher

No way. Girls are not mean! Boys are mean!

Vivian, 4

My experience is that boys can be just as mean as girls. I think girls by nature are actually nicer, but you can make a girl mean by not treating her well. And then she'll be meaner than a boy.

Evi, 20, nanny

No. None of them are mean. Not the girls I know.

Allie, 6, student

I think some people are mean, which includes some girls. However, rather then "being mean," most girls are hard to understand at times, hard to agree with at times, and have special needs at times. Figuring out what they need, when, is the key to their kindness. This is a challenge that some choose to refuse; therefore, they get what they deserve. [Was that mean?]

Michelle, 38, engineering designer

Some girls are mean, but they aren't my friends. My friends are nice.

Jamie, 7, student

I think it depends on how you interact with them. If you don't assert yourself, girls will be mean to you. There's a pecking order with girls, and the bossiest are at the top and they'll be mean to those they perceive as weak. I think we all know a few Angelica Pickles.

Marie, high-tech recruiter, 39

I think girls are mean, yes. I work with a lot of women and they're mean, too. I don't know why women are mean, I think that's my problem--I've never figured out why women are mean.

Christine, 44, teacher

There's a different degree, in a very different way they're mean, much more on an emotional level. Boys can be mean as in calling names and things, but they get over it really quickly. And with girls it hangs on. Even when things are not necessarily intended to be mean, they're perceived that way by other girls.

Nancy, 43, sailing instructor

I'd say I have more memories of mean girls than mean boys during the time I was growing up. Boys were mean in ways they didn't realize. Girls knew exactly what they were doing.

Sabrina, 25, waitress

I think so. As a teacher I always thought my girl students were a tad mean. I'm not sure whether we needed to be mean, but we had it in our minds that we were competing for the boys. But boys had the concept that they were somehow all on the same team and even if they pounded each other on the field, they would put their arms around each other as they walked off. But girls would hang onto it. Things would linger.

Susan, 58, retired teacher, tech marketer

It's not just girls. Boys are mean, too. They're all mean. People are mean. It's part of human nature.

Kaitlin, 12, student

I've not known so many mean men that I can recall, but I've known quite a few mean-spirited women.

Mary, 93, retired nurse

I think girls can and often are more cruel to one another emotionally. On the other hand, I think they are more supportive of one another when things are tough. Girls, in my experience, are more connected emotionally. They are more in tune with their own emotional state and those of others. That is why, I think, they end up hurting each other when they fall out of friendship, but why they are there for each other in times of need.

Allison, 52, lawyer

At my old school, the girls were mean because the teachers were mean. And it was sad. And the day-care lady was mean. When she yelled, she had fire coming out of her nose like a dragon! Watch out!

Samantha, 5

Not only do women struggle for the men, but we struggle for the "cookies" we can get. We have to be twice as good to go half as far. And perhaps, once there, we feel we can't let go.

Dorothy, 70, clothing store clerk

It's probably true, yes. But on the opposite side of that, I still think that one of my best friends is my daughter, but I wouldn't say one of my best friends is a man. This meanness or driving ambition or survival instinct does bind us. And after all is said and done, we can laugh it up a little bit. We accept that little mean streak in each other, and in ourselves. It's hell to pay at the time, but it's worth it.

Frances, 68, artist

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From the August 1-7, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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