by Julia Bluhm
Everywhere we look, we see girls being mean. We’ve seen it in the movies that followed cliques of rich white girls on bullying sprees, the countless reality TV shows that feature women yelling at each other and the dozens of baking/fashion/modeling/wedding competition shows that attempt to gain viewers by pitting contestants against each other.
Whatever it was, something happened. Everyone seems to think that girls are notorious for being “bitchy” to each other, starting drama, and competing to be the most attractive or have a certain boyfriend. Girls are known for being the more passive aggressive and judgmental gender. Guys have just as much “drama” as girls do, and can be just as mean to each other. Yet, the phrases “dramatic,” “catty” and “bitchy” are used exclusively for girls. And now it’s not just the media that’s promoting this stereotype, it’s “science!” It’s been decided, based on whatever reasoning: Girls are mean by nature, and there’s nothing that can be done.
Well, I don’t believe it. It’s not genetically printed in our genes to call that girl a slut behind her back, or feed her weird Swedish protein bars when she’s trying to lose weight. Women aren’t judgmental than everyone else in our disapproving world, yet we’re still tricked into thinking that this “catty” behavior is the norm among girls! Hmm… What could be causing such a tone-deaf assumption? See paragraph one. Not only have we created a whole genre of mean girl media, there’s a market for it! There are huge audiences for shows that are completely based upon exaggerated girl drama. It’s not just in reality TV shows, though. In all TV shows and movies, encouragement of “girl fighting” and “girl drama” is a common occurrence. As a ballet dancer, I see this same stereotype thrown around all the time about girls in ballet. I can assure you that ballet dancers don’t put glass in each other’s pointe shoes, or murder each other to get a part. Thanks, Black Swan.
So it’s clear that this behavior is typical in the media, but are girls this cutthroat in real life? Uh, no. It’s true that the media has had an influence on how some girls judge each other and exaggerate drama, because we’re told that there are tons of things wrong with us, and our fellow females. But do we tackle each other over a pair of shoes? No. Do we pull each other’s hair over a boy? No. Is it impossible for girls to work together without getting caught up in who’s the prettiest? Again, no. I’ve never seen anything in real life close to the carnivorous behavior that’s on TV all the time. In fact, I’ve only seen the extreme opposite. Take SPARK for example, and the other many organizations that are doing amazing things though the teamwork of girls. Do we disagree with each other about some things? Of course, but don’t assume that we give each other the silent treatment about it. Saying that all girls behave like unrealistic movie characters is insulting. There are plenty of teenage girls who don’t live in the bubble of “UUGH SO MUCH DRAMA” that everybody complains about. And for the girls who do live in that bubble, we need to start changing how we represent female relationships. It’s no fun to be constantly surrounded by judging and backstabbing in real life, so why promote it on TV?
So, you’ve heard people say, “girls are too catty”? The media is where it comes from. Don’t blame women with scientific hubbub about how this behavior is in our DNA. Blame the way our society has a sick fascination with mean girls. And don’t assume that all teenage girls behave like Regina George. We’re a lot smarter and more capable than we get credit for.