The June 3, 2002, issue of Newsweek has a cover story entitled, “In Defense of Teen Girls” that discusses the current state of teen girls in light of two recent books, Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls and Queen Bees and Wannabes.

This is an oversimplification on my part, I’m sure, but the books seem to portray most teen girls as mean-spirited and manipulative spoiled brats who “use backbiting, exclusion, rumors, name-calling, and manipulation to inflict physical pain on targeted victims.”

(Of course, that pretty much describes my life in Junior High School, too, although you’d have to add actual physical pain to the list since, as a boy, I didn’t have the luxury of non-violent nemeses.)

The Newsweek article tries to point out that there are a lot of teen girls who have avoided the pitfalls outlined in the books and who essentially have their heads screwed on straight. My favorite quote from one of these well-balanced “gamma girls” was:

“What on earth do we have to complain about? Everyone has at least one little thing, but compared to the rest of the world we are doing pretty dandy.”

— Jennifer Teschler, 15
El Cajon, California

If nothing else, Jennifer’s use of the word “dandy” gives me hope for her generation.