Girls that are mean and the movie Mean Girls
I think the reason the movie took off wasn’t just because of the incredible variations in gender portrayals- I think it was also because Mean Girls made real a desire we’ve all had as young woman. We’ve all wanted to be Regina George, that mean girl. We’ve wanted to be a part of a The Plastics and to belong and be admired for finally belonging. This desire to belong I’m starting to realize is natural and universal. Community is an important part of our existence and learning how to nurture one’s desire to belong to a community is a healthy/learning experience. The ending of Mean Girls is a testament to that learning experience.
Moving away from the film and into the idea of being a mean girl, honesty permits the analysis that being mean is a valued trait in our society. Being mean can be seen as being competitive, or being protective of one’s surroundings. Being mean can be seen as a physical representation of one’s ambition and a desire to accomplish more for oneself.
Look at men and their relationship to being mean. Men are taught to compete, and that competition and the decimation of one another’s character is an exercise in becoming a man. Look at WWE, the billion dollar wrestling federation organized around ruthless, albeit staged, competition. It’s an arena full of mean boys.
Then look at the “mean girls” in WWE and here’s where meanness starts to break down and reveal a serious case of gender inequality. In 1999, Chyna, one of the few competing females of the sport, won her first championship NOT by fighting and defeating the indomitable Triple H but by Steve Austin making a surprise entrance and taking her KO’d (knocked out) body and placing it on a similarly knocked out Triple H.
If we tell our men that competition is good but only at the hands of other men where does that leave our women? Our girls? How will they defend themselves? From what the movie Mean Girls tells us, it’s by being extremely, extremely mean.
I think we’re taught to be mean people. Not because mean is right but because being mean, dominating others, in our world, can give you a upper hand. Women have been taught to slut-shame, to criticize other women at the benefit of defining their own character.
As young women I think we’re in an exciting place to change that system. No more ruthless competition, no more slut-shaming, no more presumptions about the presumed natural strength of men and “catty” nature of females.
As the brilliant lyricist Sinead O’Connor said, “The opposite to patriarchy is not matriarchy- it’s fraternity.” Well said Sinead, well said.
Alyssa Johnson- and I’m studying at the Ohio State University, majoring in Painting/Drawing with a minor in Cinema and Video Production and my website is www.alyssamariejohnson.com