Watching previously loved 90’s films like Clueless and currently Mean Girls.
Problematic to say the least but it wasn’t recognized at this time.
Terms like “retarded” we’re thrown around at will. Any gay character was comic relief nothing else. Asians were “nerds”, there may or may not of been black characters, if there were they were downtrodden, villains or just tokens. All of them not really there but there anyway because they were on the white periphery.
Watching these movies now is both nostalgic, and nauseating, because I was blind at the time.
But, Mean Girls…
This idea of “girl world”.
A manipulative, petty, frivolous and complicated disrespectful reflection of the female experience.
However, I did dip my toe into this world.
I took ballet from the time I was 5.
I loved it.
I quit after a run in with extreme prejudice in casting our yearly production of the nutcracker but that’s beside the point.
In fifth grade, I joined a toe class. It took a lot to get there. I was told I had flat feet and worked over time every day to strengthen the many bones in my feet to warrant toe shoes.
For those who don’t know, that’s when dancers lift themselves up on their toes and dance.
I question now if that wasn’t a race thing because the one other not white girl was placed in the same category. She was black and WAY better than me and most come to think about it.
On my first day, an older girl came over to me and asked me what school I went to.
I told her.
She asked me who I was friends with.
I asked her why she needed to know.
Her response was shocking to me.
“I need to see if you’re cool. Are you cool?”
I said yes. She took my word for it. Maybe because I had boobs? Didn’t have braces? Wore eye makeup? Finally had bangs I could feather? All of the above?
She was cool with me for a few classes. Acted like we were besties.
Then, one day, she came to me angry.
“You don’t know this person or that person! You’re NOT COOL!”
I was filled with indignation. I responded.
“So!? What’s your problem? We were fine for the last few weeks!? I’m not cool because I don’t know the people you want me to know!?”
I feel like having boobs gave me confidence. After all, mine were bigger than hers.
I think I even pushed them out when I said this. Can’t believe I did this or even thought this was a source of power.
She walked away. And never talked to me again.
The next day at school, one of the girls this person mentioned came up to me in the hallway.
“Just so you know, I hate that bitch too.” She smiled at me and walked away. We’d never spoken before.
I immediately hated the whole situation. I felt so guilty.
I initially let the dance class girl think I was “on her side”. Whatever that means.
I wasn’t friends with the girl that came up to me in the hallway and called the dance class girl a “bitch”.
It was honestly the first time I had heard any woman called this in real life. And I hated it.
We weren’t even women. We were 12 year old girls.
I continued in dance class, kept my head down. Avoiding that girl like the plague.
I avoided that girl in the hallway too.
I had a few friends, didn’t need any more and I was never again singled out.
I was friends with pretty much everyone else, girls and boys with no problem.
I think about this often.
How in pop culture women are still seen as petty, manipulative, problematic while men don’t have any of these attributes. Or so we think.
It drives me crazy that even today, as much as I love reality TV like the real housewives still glom onto this rare phenomenon of women being divisive with each other, manipulative, petty, ridiculous and immature. Like 12 year olds in dance class. And even though it’s extremely rare, it seems to be what society wants to believe.
Definitely a way to keep women down and less powerful. That way, when a woman shows any emotion, it can be another case of why women can’t be trusted. In any way. It’s their nature right? It’s those crazy hormones that they can’t control!
I had control of my hormones at 12. Most women do at an early age.
I mean, what the fuck right?