I have been reading up on aggression in boys for my shiny and exciting new WIP. It’s not as obvious as you’d think. There’s lots (and lots) of YA about nastiness and aggression in girls — especially the difference between the cheer-leading types and lesser mortals, and I really love that stuff. Recently, I read The Replacement, and enjoyed it very much — creepy fairy tale monsters etc. — but one thing I really enjoyed was the way the mc lusted after the ditsy prom queen type girl even though she was completely evil. Similarly, yesterday we went to see Justin and the Knights of Valour and again the boy’s initial love interest was beautiful but shallow and awful.
[Tangent: are there any Jane Bennet/ Dorothea Brooke girls around in YA? Beautiful girls who are also good and nice? Or maybe it’s the being obsessed by it that turns you evil? Dorothea was never remotely concerned about the way she looked — was she? — and there’s no description of Jane fussing endlessly over bonnets — that’s left to Lydia, who’s the Austen equivalent of the evil cheerleader. So, it’s a classic pattern(*). But then in chick-lit, so called, being obsessed by shoes is not a bad thing. Now I’m confused. Tangent ends.]
So, to return to the point (at last), it’s much harder to find stuff about boy aggression than about girl aggression. Possibly this is because boy aggression tends to be more straightforward and physical (=involves beating people up)? There’s the bit from Anna Dressed in Blood where the bad guy from school beats Cas up and tries to get him murdered by a ghost but I was hoping for something more low level. There’s the bit in Finnikin of the Rock where Finnikin and Lucian fight because that’s what they do — but they’re basically friends and I was hoping for something a bit more negative… So I’ve been trying to research. EXCEPT, everything I’ve found is advice to parents for dealing with aggression in their sons (with the occasional bit of comfort that boys are supposed to be physical and just because they’re playing super-heroes/ war doesn’t mean they’re actually being aggressive so much as acting through scenarios, and the very occasional rant about the evils of gun control in the comments of blog posts about toy guns). Sigh.
Is there an in-between somewhere in the space between playful shoving (which boys seem to do all the time judging from (a) my observation of six-year-olds, (b) looking out of coffee shop windows when the secondary school kids are out for lunch) and big proper fights with punching and blood?
So how does a boy who doesn’t like another boy behave?
(*) Though it does seem to put girls who are interested in hats in a bit of an unenviable position.