What really grinds my gears this week is how girls, teenage girls in particular, aren’t allowed to have any sort of interest in literally anything without being made fun of or turned into a tired stereotype.
But wait, you say. Not every teenage girl feels persecuted, the jokes are just jokes. Lots of girls will even embrace the stereotype; how many girls did you see last Halloween dressed as a “basic white girl?” They don’t mind it, you say, Feminism is over.
I’m here to tell you that no, this is actually a pretty big issue that I’m getting sick of hearing about. The scariest part? We’re all so used to it happening, that I have to write an article pointing it out.
Obviously there’s the concept that you can’t please everyone, that people will criticize you no matter what you do so you might as well do what you like. The problem with this is that no other demographic gets ridiculed for their interests quite as prevalently as teenage girls. Teenage girls get made fun for everything, from the way they talk (like, whatever, omg) to the things they wear, to even what they eat? What is this?!
It’s not that there are just certain areas of interest to “avoid,” as if that’s not problematic either. It’s an overarching, systematic reaction that girls face. It doesn’t matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, because no matter what you say, you’re WRONG.
“If a girl likes Ugg boots and Starbucks she’s stupid and stereotypical, but if she likes combat boots and obscure coffee houses she’s a hipster wannabe and is trying too hard. If a girl listens to boy bands and other popular artists she’s a dumb follower, if she reads comics or plays video games she’s a poser/fake geek girl, if she likes sex she’s a slut but if she doesn’t like sex she’s a prude, if she wears makeup she’s fake but if she doesn’t wear makeup she’s a slob, if she has low self-esteem she needs to learn to love herself but if she has high self-esteem she’s overconfident and vain, if she’s interested in politics she’s a crazy social justice warrior but if she prefers to stay out of social matters she’s a dumb airhead.” ~http://heckabucky.tumblr.com/post/121777156138/man-teenaged-girls-arent-allowed-to-have-a
But why does this happen?
A big part of this stems from the belief that women aren’t being genuine in their interests. Part of this stems from the ever present notion (to this day!! In 2016!!) that women exist only in reaction to men, that everything they do is actually calculated towards getting male attention rather than for themselves. I’m not saying that no girl has ever pretended to like something just to impress a boy, but apparently it’s ridiculous that a girl would show an interest in something because she actually just really enjoys it and has a personality of her own.
What should you do about it?
Here’s a thought: don’t make fun of people for their interests.
If you are a girl, please support each other. We’ve created a culture in which not only are girls being ridiculed for literally everything, but in which girls are part of the ones doing it. Internalized misogyny a lifetime of being pitted against other women has girls feeding into Mean Girls stereotypes or struggling to distance themselves from each other. If someone makes fun of girls for being obsessed with Starbucks, it’s natural to want to say, “But I don’t even go to Starbucks that often, I don’t drink that much coffee. I’m not like OTHER GIRLS.” But why are we like this? Why do we feel the need to pull other girls down at the benefit of yourself? The next time this happens, ask people why they’re criticizing someone for drinking coffee.