Reconceptualising Relational Aggression as Strategic Communication: Girls, Goals, and Their Peer Groups

Angela Page, Jennifer Charteris
  • The Educational and Developmental Psychologist, April 2017, Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/edp.2017.2

Dimensions of relational aggression, and the ‘mean boy’

What is it about?

Relational aggression has long been considered the ‘weapon of choice’ for young women seeking to harm others through purposeful manipulation or damage to relationships. However, in recently media articles in Australia, teenage boys have been reported to use the same aggressive strategies to target girls. This article explores the themes drawn from a content analysis of 30 newspaper articles reporting on an Internet website established to ‘trade’ sexual pictures of teenage girls.

Why is it important?

We argue that the prevalent forms and functions in the literature as it applies to girls’ relational aggression are also evident in the perpetrating behaviour of boys, although its expression gives rise to requiring a gendered alternative to what we have considered as ‘mean’. The reported actions of young men can be recognised as aggressive and dangerous behaviour. It is damaging to dismiss ‘mean boys’ subjectivities as merely ‘boys being boys’.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Jennifer Charteris