The Shit Girls Say thingPosted: January 6, 2012 | |
This got a lot of attention on my Tumblr so I thought I’d put it here. This blog needs some love.
On Shit Girls Say and girl hate (from everyone)
I’ve been mulling this whole Shit Girls Say thing over for a while now and I think I’ve finally figured out what it is that bothers me about it: Everything. And that includes you, other people who hate it.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or so, Toronto dudes Graydon Sheppard and Kyle Humphrey released Episode 1 of Shit Girls Say, which has done the whole viral thing—so much so, that Episode 2 has just been released.
The appeal of Shit Girls Say is its “oh it’s so funny because it’s true” angle and I think many women can admit to saying at least some of these things. As Lynn Crosbie wrote in the Globe and Mail:
Is the video uncanny? Yes. It is like being lightly slapped, over and over again. That starts to sting, then infuriate.
And it is so easy to look forward to a time when a girl or woman will express one of the banalities in the video and be mocked for it. Mocked for saying, “Did you miss me?” or “Be nice.” Are women not scrutinized enough?
Girls, or young women, who already speak largely in the interrogative and treat the world of men as another, completely inscrutable species, have enough on their minds already. They are already sexualized to the maximum. Must their every word be a potential joke?
Girls speak casually about inane things. Girls speak, too, about sexual violence and quantum physics. They talk about fear and art, children, murder and opera; philosophy, blood, sex and mathematics.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty tired of humour that relies on tired stereotypes and gender essentialism. None of these jokes are new—we’ve been making fun of “Valley girls” for decades, and girls in general. In the words of my houselord Miriam: “I feel like it [Shit Girls Say] came from Christmas past to remind us how all jokes about women used to be about how we are dumb, and annoying, and all the same.”
The men who write these videos and run the Shit Girls Say Twitter account (which offensively uses the photograph of Sharbat Gula)—and that’s right, men—think it’s less harmful because they’re gay. According to the Toronto Star:
Coming from a gay man, it’s a little less threatening than, say, a guy or even a woman acting the part. We kind of have an alliance with women, we’re privy to their conversations. We grew up around women. We also have the advantage of being on the outside looking in. When we started we were a little worried that people would find it sexist and we are really careful about what we tweet. We try not to put anything about violence or (that is) sexist or mean spirited. We kind of take a reverential tone. We know that the funny part to us in the tweets is the complexity of them and the way they can be read, and we respect that. It’s more of an observation. It feels pretty benign and everybody’s in on the joke. We’re just happy that the tone comes through.
Um no, actually it isn’t. And relying on the same tired stereotypes of gay men—that they’re all “in” with women (whatever that means); you know, which isn’t always true—isn’t quite enough to lessen the blow. While many women dream of having the perfect Gay Best Friend with whom she can gab about whatever, most probably wouldn’t appreciate the most inane of their comments ending up on the Internet. For me, the tone does not come through. Putting a gay man in drag doesn’t make the mocking sting any less.
And that’s what this is: Mocking. Even feminists and others outraged by the meme are guilty of this. The retaliatory Shit Girls Say Tumblr, which prides itself on its “smart girl quotes,” has the following tagline: “Because not all of us are vacuous boring shit heads.”
Shit heads. Wow. Sounds like the same ol’ girl hate to me. Of course I understand the intentions behind this Tumblr. I know the frustration of being lumped into a group. I mean, don’t we all? Isn’t that what this meme is all about, Shit Girls Say? It isn’t Shit Some Girls Say or even Shit Some White Upper-Middle Class Women Say. And while I believe it’s still necessary to remind the world that yes, women are smart, and yes, we talk about lots of different things—I also think it’s wrong to do this at the expense of other women.
Because here’s the thing, these women (or um, shit heads, as some call them) are real. There are women who squeal when they meet their friends. There are women who gush about the goodness of food. There are women who speak this way and in this tone. And there are definitely women who talk about inane bullshit—if you say you don’t, you’re a liar—and there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to befriend these women if they annoy you, but I urge you to watch how quick you are to judge women who do fit certain stereotypes and unpack where your superiority complex is really coming from.
Gender stereotypes are gross and trust me, I know what it’s like to be disgusted and frustrated by them. But think about it: You hate this video so much because of how it portrays women. It hits home for some reason. Whether you see yourself in it or are simply offended by the stereotypes, what you’re actually reacting to is the fact that being a woman is still a punchline. And that’s something that’s worthy of your anger.