Queen Bees and Wannabes: A Book Club Discussion

In preparation for our upcoming Changing the Odds conference, a group of us read Queen Bees and Wannabes by guest speaker Rosalind Wiseman. Here are some of our thoughts and a bit about why we love this book. 

By Michelle Cooper, Content Specialist | Sep 10, 2018
Queen Bees Wannabes

In preparation for our upcoming Changing the Odds conference, several of us at Momentous have been reading books authored by our guest speakers. In August, we read Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. Since we’ve been talking about gender on the blog, I thought I’d share some highlights from our discussion, a few of my own thoughts, and talk a little bit about why we love this book!


Queen Bees is Not Your Daughter’s Mean Girls

I was finishing up my Sophomore year when Mean Girls hit theaters. Knowing that the film was based on Queen Bees and Wannabes, I cracked it open fully expecting to already know all of its secrets. Instead, I learned that even though I’d navigated Girl World in my teens, I knew very little about it. During our discussion, many of us were surprised by the insight Rosalind provides regarding the complex social structures of Girl World.

Mean Girls is a dramatization of Girl World. It shows us how teen girls navigate Girl World. As a teen watching the film I remember thinking, ‘Yeah, this film gets it’. As an adult watching the film I think, ‘What? Why? How did we survive this?’. It’s those questions that Rosalind answers. Queen Bees and Wannabes is the guide that helps adults and parents understand the moments in Mean Girls that leave us scratching our heads.


Girl World Isn’t Just for Teens

The tagline for Queen Bees and Wannabes is “Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boys, and the New Realities of Girl World”. Those all seem like problems only teen girls face. It is fairly clear early in the book that even young girls face Girl World problems. There are examples of issues girls navigate as young as five. This observation was a passing comment in our group discussion, but I wanted to mention it here because it seems easy to write this off as something for parents of teens when it actually has a lot of advice for adults interacting with girls of all ages.


Do We Ever Really Leave Girl World?

We spent a bit of time talking about how we could each place where we fit in the social structure as teens, and how we remembered instances similar to those that Rosalind outlines in the book. Our lone male participant mentioned that he could remember how these scenarios affected his sister and that he wondered what parallels he would find to his life in Masterminds and Wingmen, Rosalind’s guide to Boy World.

It was fairly easy to reminisce on the past and connect to Girl World. However, our group, comprised mostly of educators and therapists, kept coming back to this question of whether or not we ever leave Girl World? I think we were all a bit surprised at how easy it was to see examples of Girl World in our own adult lives. We also wondered what happens to girls as adults and how the roles they fill as girls affect their lives later on.


Checking Your Baggage

Throughout the book, Rosalind asks the reader to check their baggage. In these sections she calls for introspection. I would say that for our group discussion, this opening up for self-reflection was one of our biggest takeaways. Queen Bees and Wannabes is a guide. It helps you understand what is going on with girls and gives you a map of Girl World. However, if you expect to open this book and find a list of ways to fix the girls in your life, you’d be in for a surprise.

Self-reflection played a large part in our group discussion, and that is because Queen Bees and Wannabes is, in many ways, a book about self-reflection and mindfulness. Yes, there is advice about how to handle certain situations, but overwhelmingly the book asks you to think about your experiences, your actions and what they say, and how you are approaching those situations. We end all of our book club discussions by taking turns stating what the book has inspired us to do in our own lives. Each response can be summed up into three parts: Being mindful, being present, and practicing self-reflection. Essentially, we all left prepared to check our baggage before asking the girls in our life to do the same.