Say what you will (and I know you will) but I happen to believe that Mean Girls is one of the best movies ever made. I used to watch it on repeat at work; before I was fired from Blockbuster Video when I was 17 for deleting my own late fees, amongst other things. Remember the days that people still rented DVD’s from an actual store? Does it make you sad to think that kids these days don’t even know the pain of borrowing a VHS only to discover the last asshole who rented it was not kind and didn’t fucking rewind?
We’re getting off track, shocker. Yes, Mean Girls. Still to this day, I could probably quote the entire movie word for word and let me tell you, I am not ashamed – at all. After watching it so many times you would hope that I would have picked up a few solid life lessons and as it turns out. I did. I think we all did.
We watched on as Cady Herron figured it all out the hard way. She learnt all about ‘Girl-Code’, the ‘rules of feminism’, the importance of being honest, how polarizing hoop earings can be and of course limits that do not exist.
Make no mistake however, based on the real life experiences of this gal right here… some days, I still feel personally victimized by the Regina George types that exist in my life. We all know a Regina George and sometimes – without warning – we are her. So, clearly girl on girl crime is still alive and kicking. Did you even know you were doing it?When we question the authenticity of rape and abuse victims/survivors and put their suffering on trial.
When we judge each other based on make-up, clothing, partners, children, careers, opinions, bodies, spirituality, voting preferences, likes, followers and social status.
When we become gossip mongers.
When we allow our friendships to turn into competitive, petty, shallow beatdowns.
When we refuse to acknowledge women who are homeless on the street.
When we play into the media’s representation of women and fall victim to click bait news stories that do little more than discredit our voice.
When we exhaust too much energy defending ourselves to trolls online and IRL.
When we use hate speech and slut shame.
When we throw shade onto anyone who uses menstruation products other than tampons.
When we allow people to teach us to hide and feel shameful about periods all together.
When we ignore the elderly/ageing and are disinterested in the lessons we can still learn from each other.
When we force one another to feel shame for eating or not eating animal products and by products.
When we continue to teach girls the importance of maintaining unrealistic beauty standards and feed into the conditioning of hating our bodies.
When we ridicule sex workers and shame the porn industry.
When we call ourselves as feminists but don’t check our privilege and only focus on the bits that fit or effect us while discounting women of colour, trans women, those with disabilities, mental illness, non-Western religious identities, non-white ethnic or racial identities, non-thin bodies, non-Eurocentric features, low income, or those who simply do not adhere to a Western model of gender or sexuality.
When we go out of our way to put other women down publicly or privately because we disagree or believe the other to be wrong.
When we don’t say or do anything as we witness discrimination of any kind occurring, out of fear or ignorance or both.
When we start to believe that our experience is the only real one and don’t share validation with the women around us, who also have their own individual experiences.
When we shy away from opportunities to be heard and seen in a way that would bring real change.
When we comment, like and tag our friends in pictures on social media that make fun of or degrade women.
When we consciously or subconsciously use jealousy as an excuse to not support each other, build each other up and celebrate our success. Somewhere along the way, we got so busy thinking we stood for everything and ended up standing for nothing at all and I for one am not immune. It may not be easy to hear but the way we treat each other is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. I know it can be all too easy to fall into the traps that the world has laid out for us but we don’t have to play that game.
As women, we owe it to ourselves to be better. To do better. For ourselves. To end the cycle of vitriol starting within our own troops.
Don’t be alarmed. It’s not as hard as you have been taught to believe. You can actually be a decent human. There is a way to engage in conversation that is uncomfortable and hard without coming across as a the self appointed Queen of everything. We can actually check our selves – before we wreck ourselves – and maybe, just maybe, we can actually bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy…
Because, it is actually okay to have a lot of feelings… We just need to focus on making them productive and not destructive to our cause or our sense of self.