Stop the Girl-Shaming!

I witnessed something the other day and it got me thinking. And when I think, I fucking write. Watch out! Here’s where I piss off a lot of people!

As a culture, we have a serious problem when we don’t quite understand what feminism means. So much that in our attempt to be SUPPORTIVE of women, we suppress other women. So what in the hell am I talking about?

Right now, I’m talking about books. And OF COURSE, I’m talking about the mega 3 teen-girl books: Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games.

I’m gonna lay this out there right now to get it out of the way — so back the fuck up and take it — I … SUPPORT… ALL … THREE. and the many more they were inspired from and will inspire.

Five years ago, I watched teenage girl after teenage girl live and breathe the Twilight series. I didn’t get it. I knew it had vampires. I knew it was romance, but meh. Eventually, and just like how I came to read Harry Potter, I had to check it out because so many were reading it. And shocker… I liked it. Same thing happened with Hunger Games. I broke down and read it after I watched teenager after teenager read it. And .. I liked it too.

Fast forward to a few days ago, I asked a group of 14 year olds if there were any Twilight Fans in the room. In this small group of 25, eight girls’ hands shot up raised. And then, as they looked around the room at the expressions of the other kids, a few slowly lowered. I was left with only three girls willing to stand for it. To each their own, but that’s not my concern. My concern: What happened to those five girls?

How lost is our culture when it tries to empower girls and instead leaves some girls feeling ashamed?

BUT BUT BUT.. GIRLS SHOULDN’T CRY OVER A STUPID BOYFRIEND… AND AND SHOULD FIGHT TO SAVE THE WORLD!
And that’s SOME girls. Some girls WANT to do those things. And we’re supporting women when we tell those girls — GO FOR IT! DO IT! SAVE THE WORLD!

But that’s not what Twilight is about. There is no WORLD that needs saving in Twilight, so STOP comparing them. And Bella does stand up and help her family when HER world is threatened. Her world is smaller. Her interests are different.
And that’s SOME girls too. Some girls DON’T WANT and DON’T HAVE TO  save the world. Not because they’re beaten, or are too boring to do it, or told they can’t. Some girls grow up, get married, have kids and raise families and that’s THEIR WORLD. We’re supporting women when we tell those girls — GO FOR IT! DO IT! CREATE THE WORLD!

BUT BUT BUT.. IT’S TEACHING OUR GIRLS TO HAVE CONTROLLING BOYFRIENDS.. AND AND AND… THAT GUYS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD!
*side note: having a boyfriend IS one of the most important things when you’re a teenager.  And apparently, I’m just saying, it’s pretty important when you’re an adult too or all those adult matching sites would be broke… cuz.. you know..adults never want to date and certainly never obsess about it as they age*

If you’re concerned about Edward’s behavior, where are these girls’ positive role models? Where are their parents? Where are the conversations about how they act? What about their own mental filter?
I guess if you feel a book has the power to create suppressed and used girls, then you’re also a person who believes a video game creates killers.

In fact, it sounds a tad sexist to assume the girls will automatically become “dumber”, “used”, “not live to their potential”, or “think they need men” — just because they read a book! GASP!

It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting *ideas*, and *thinking*… — Gaston, Beauty and the Beast

I digress. Going back to the five girls who dropped their hands. What are we telling them?

  • Read what you want to read, as long as it means discovering you’re independent and strong on your own! (What happened to novels for the sake of entertainment? Why do all young adult novels have to be LIFE GUIDING? Adults have novels for fun — teenagers can’t handle it? Go read an adult romance novel. They’re equally simple without life-changing subliminal messages and adults aren’t shamed for it. Don’t forget! Some songs are written for fun. Some art is done for fun. Some video games are made for fun only.)
  • Like whatever you want — girl power! rawr! — but it better include kicking butt and taking names? (Why is wanting to have a boyfriend CRAP? That’s all I cared about when I was teenager. I also got awesome grades, and had good friends and long-term goals, in which some included finding the man of my dreams and starting a family, and some included owning my own business, running everything and taking over the world. I’m not utter crap because I wanted to have a romantic relationship.)
  • If everyone else says it’s wrong — it’s wrong. No no, shhhhh…If majority of the people hate it, you should too. Never mind your own thoughts. Never mind your own ideas. Never mind your own interests. If they’re not the same as everyone else, you’re wrong.

I know there’s a million reasons people don’t like Twilight. But guess what, there’s a million reasons people don’t like Harry Potter and there’s a million reasons people don’t like Hunger Games. Who is this “people” we keep talking about? And who the fuck cares?!?!

Feminism means the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Read that again. There’s a period at the end of it. It doesn’t say what women have to be. It’s not a hidden message for our girls to dominate the planet or submit to it. Girls, go be you — whether it’s a powerhouse, the girl next door, or the stay-at-home mom. Embrace it and the rest can go fuck off 🙂

How do you feel feminism is handled today? Do you have examples outside of media and our culture’s response to it?

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3 responses to “Stop the Girl-Shaming!

  1. I’m of two minds on this one.

    On the one (and admittedly shorter hand), it feels a little… off… to single the above example out as a feminist issue (there are lots and lots of things wrong with those poor five feeling they had to do as they did)…

    But on the other; I very much agree with the message anyway. The entire point of the movement was to give the power of choice – to create a world can make the same choices as a man and reap equal rewards for her efforts.

    To remove those choices in order to leave room for naught but someone’s ideal image of a strong, butt-kicking female would be to slide right back down the scale of progress and end up precisely where we started – just in a different image.

    • I most definitely agree about there being several things wrong with the five girls not feeling comfortable enough to keep their hands raised — it’s not just about the feminist issue. I chose to focus on feminism because it tends to be the biggest point people make when complaining about Twilight, and probably to be a bit self-serving.
      I left this out, because it was getting too friggin long anyway, but as I stand today I have a career I’m successful in and a family — I would give my left arm to stay home and just take care of the family for awhile and ‘raise’ a home. The social pressure I receive FROM OTHER WOMEN at work to not “cave” is a huge issue, and I saw this teenage issue a sort of analogy of what I’m feeling. Thanks for the discussion!!! :):)

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