Our Culture Is Obsessed With Girls Right Now

White Girl Problems. Sh*t Girls Say. New Girl. 2 Broke Girls. Girls. I mean, it sounds like these titles couldn’t possibly exist at the same time but they’re all actually the names of current popular Twitter feeds and new TV shows. Judging by their existence, I’d say it’s officially a bad time to have a penis right now. Our culture is having a major “girl” moment.

Why are the lives of girls so interesting right now? I mean, duh, they have always been interesting but thanks to the democracy of Twitter, which arguably helped jumpstart this obsession with girls, hilariously out-of-touch and possibly misogynist network execs were finally able to get the memo that people were interested in the lives of women. Of course it didn’t hurt that Sex and the City and Tina Fey existed. They certainly laid the groundwork by providing great dialogues for women. (I’m talking about Sex and the City the TV show when I say interesting. Not its horrendous reincarnation in movies. Although, to be fair, we probably owe a lot to the success of those terrifying movies.)

Now everywhere we go, there’s girls! Smart, funny, interesting girls. They’re even ruling the blogosphere right now with websites like HelloGiggles, xoJane, and The Hairpin. (The latter of which, it should be noted, is more popular than its original brother website, The Awl.) Their stories are being told on the internet, on the big screen (sup Bridesmaids) and on our TV screens. Can you believe that it was only a short time ago when we only had something like The Hills to turn to for our daily dose of vagina? Dear god. In a post-Bridesmaids world, Audrina Patridge and Whitney Port have been practically voted off girl island. Watching pretty girls try to make sentences during lunch just isn’t relevant anymore. It’s crazy to see just how dated The Hills is even though it only happened a few years ago. And by crazy, I mean, it’s so amazing!

Of course with all of these modern depictions of women comes criticism. Whitney Cummings, the co-creator of 2 Broke Girls and the creator and star of her own sitcom, has come under fire for perpetuating harmful stereotypes of women by wrapping them in a faux-feminist bow. Sh*t Girls Say has been called reductive and White Girl Problems is often accused of being racist and sexist and maybe some other “ists” I don’t know about. But here’s the thing with that — if an idea is able to resonate with as large of an audience as these two Twitter accounts have, it means two things. One: It’s freaking funny. Two: People can relate to it. Why else do so many girls read these tweets and RT them on their own personal account, adding, “OMG, I’m definitely guilty of saying this”? Whether it’s offensive or not seems almost beside the point. The fact is that they’re exposing a truth of some kind. If you’re uncomfortable with it, maybe you should ask yourself why it holds truth for so many people.

Anything that’s done about women is going to be met with a raised eyebrow. Since, as a culture, we’ve done so many terrible things to them (and continue to do so), people are naturally going to be on the defensive and wonder what right does someone have to generalize their experiences as a woman? They’re right, to a certain extent, but I take solace in knowing that we have actual women in charge this time. Liz Merriwether, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Miranda July: These are just some of the vaginas I trust. And, like I said before, if something you think is offensive becomes popular, it’s beneficial to wonder why it became popular in the first place. Chances are the Twitter feed/ book/ TV/ film is exposing a truth about yourself (or your gender) that you’re just not willing to admit yet. TC mark

image – The Hills

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    when society is in depression people look towards girls, i think, because no matter the economy there is drama

  • Lee

    An amazing post!  As a feminist, I still like to joke about the things being said in Sh*t Girls Say and White Girl Problems…I think bringing these things out in the open can create dialogue and make us realize how we can portray ourselves and how we can change to be stronger women.

    • asdf

      You’re a dumbass

  • Nixie M.

    It’s because for thousands of years, cultures all over the world were obsessed with men. Duh. Time for women.

    • Guestation

      Dumb,This post was dumb too society has like always been obsessed with girls

  • Lizag22

    I think you missed a larger concept here that pop culture is obsessed with “girls” right now and NOT women. How old is Zooey anyway? As long as she still looks/acts like a “girl” she’s still got some juice in her.

    • Mcsiler

      I disagree – BETTY WHITE for one.

      • A L Dunne

        Yeah, one. And half the press on her focuses on how amazing it is that a woman of her age is a star.  Having an exception doesn’t mean a trend doesn’t exist.

  • xra

    girls are only special insofar as our instincts give them more biological value, let’s not get carried away here

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.mckoy Black Jason Statham

    I agree mostly with this article, but you can go further back to see positive images of women portrayed on screen. Shows like “Alice”, “Rhoda”, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “One Day at a Time”, “Murphy Brown”, the original “Bionic Woman”, “Punky Brewster” and “Facts of Life” to name a few. I believe it’s not so much an obsession as it is a cycle. As far as blogs and twitter, these are new conventions that perhaps seem to be bringing more attention to this girl movement you have proposed because of the immediacy of information delivery by the common person but I would venture to say that our culture as a whole is paying no more attention to girls now as it has in the late 50s, 60s, 70s or even early 80s. It has always been fascinated by the trials and tribulations of women and I believe we have women like Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, as well as Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling.

  • A L Dunne

    Is our culture obsessed with girls, or are we just so used to not seeing them headlining entertainment that it seems like a strange new trend? The fact that Bridesmaids is always singled out simply for having a female cast is pretty depressing.

    “Whether it’s offensive or not seems almost beside the point. The fact is
    that they’re exposing a truth of some kind. If you’re uncomfortable
    with it, maybe you should ask yourself why it holds truth for so many
    This is a stupid argument. Things that are prejudiced are often popular and “hold truth” to the masses. That’s why all the -isms keep going.

  • KC

    this is all well and good, but most of these sites and shows portray women/girls in a stereotypical fashion. i’m sure to some extent there is some “girl power” in there, but i would really like to see more sites/blogs/television shows that inspire women to be more than fashion and makeup, giggles and BFFs.. that seems to be what’s popular right now. I’d much rather see sites and shows for women of women in the stereotypical “man’s world” of math and science. Sure, make it fun, girls are fun, but for heaven’s sake, we need more substance, more REAL inspiration. I personally live this everyday – I’m a young woman who loves a great pair of shoes and doing silly “girly” things with my BFFs, but I am a research scientist and am the only woman in the lab. I wish more girls were inspired to, not necessarily become research scientists, but be more than they/we thought we could ever be.

    • beatrice

      Well, the thing about any “scientific” or “mathematic” job is that any successful female in it tends to inhibit more STEREOTYPICALLY male qualities. Which in turn does not feed the obsession. On a side note, a friend girl of mine loves C.S.I and is inspired to be a forensic scientist. Frankly, I don’t really think this problem with the media is that big

      • hello?

        “This problem with the media” is so huge that you aren’t even aware it exists.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kittykitty.meooow Donna-Lee Grant

      rizolli and isles!!! love that show, two badass mothafuckin women! i agree though, not many women are pushed to be interested in math or science but instead are uhmm, ive lost the word, but are raised to be more keen towards wanting to grow up and be in social work, or a teacher, or some other job like that (which pays muchhhh less than something like business or engineering).

  • ferguson

    I really hate that you reduce calling “girls” (especially in your line about who you trust) into just calling them “vaginas.” Glad to know what matters. We have more than genitals, and to reduce these women figures that you “trust” to only their genitals is pathetic. Maybe you thought your piece was progressive or flattering to women, but in the end the traces of sexism are obvious. 

    • beatrice

      ryan talks like that, this really isn’t something to be offended about…

      • Katze

        actually that he talks like this at all is exactly what we should be offended about. The internet is full enough of people with little self awareness.  packaging as practically an ode to Vice magazine slang hardly helps us move forward.

  • Catt

    if something you think is offensive becomes popular, it’s beneficial to wonder why it became popular in the first place”
    That’s a terrible argument. Plenty of things used to be popular that were still offensive: blackface, consistently casting Russians as the bad guys in entertainment, Howard Stern…

  • Sophia

    oh dear here comes the onslaught of angry feminists

    • SEfgc

      You’re hilarious AND progressive. Wow!

  • http://twitter.com/buytoiletpaper Meaghan S

    “And, like I said before, if something you think is offensive becomes
    popular, it’s beneficial to wonder why it became popular in the first
    place. Chances are the Twitter feed/ book/ TV/ film is exposing a truth
    about yourself (or your gender) that you’re just not willing to admit

    It couldn’t possibly be popular because it reinforces (the majority=popular) people’s already preconceived ideas about hetero-normative gender values. Because stero-types come from somewhere, right? That’s why fried chicken and watermelon jokes are so hilarious, right? Way to think that one through Ryan O.

    This is such a lazy analysis: your “feminism” card should be revoked.

    • Mcsiler

      I NEVER thought fried chicken and watermelon jokes were hilarious.  And usually things are popular I would say for the most part – because the majority relates – you understand what “relates” means right?  It doesn’t mean “recalling the stereotype” it means finding something in common with . . . lighten up.

      • http://twitter.com/buytoiletpaper Meaghan S

        LOL, I misspelled stereotype. How’s that for lightening up?

        Missing the point. An analysis of something should dig deeper than “oh the majority of people relate to this, therefore it’s valid”.

        Learn to think.

  • Anon

    You are being lame honestly. Thanks for referring to women as another species. “Why are the lives of girls so interesting right now?”. They weren’t before? Are you being that much of a cumrag? Of course what’s getting views is the dumb rich girl character, nothing real. However you phrased it terribly. Instead used the blanket term “girls” and females in the real world. We’ve been living in this male-centric culture for decades, objectified with forced roles on us. Give us a fucking break jerk. This was very anti-feminist. 

  • Lisa Donlon

    Oh poor men…totally being ignored for the last 20,000 years or so

  • http://www.nicholeexplainsitall.com EarthToNichole

    Golden Girls. Bea Arthur > Zooey Deschanel.

  • Danielle

    I wasn’t fond of some of the phrasing in this article and while there may be a fascination with girls at the moment (makes a change) there is certainly not a fascination with older women who are still pretty much invisible in most movies and TV shows. Still, I’m pretty sure it was all written with good intentions (meaning, the author made a better attempt at this than most men I know would!), despite veering off course along the way.

  • beatrice

    I tots agree with the fact that every stereotype has some truth but um, this obsession is justified with how girls are just more interesting on camera.

  • Synonyms

    You are incrediby demeaning.

  • Moscwer

    wow, i would pretty much agree with everything in this argument except the totally absurd joke “it’s officially a bad time to have a penis right now.”

    i mean, obviously if it’s sincere it’s absurd – what, when women get a little bit more attention in media and entertainment, men must therefore suffer?

    ryan’s not stupid so it’s a joke, but but even as a joke it’s absurd – don’t straight men LIKE watching shows with girls in them? cuz they get to look at girls? seriously, that’s like “haha we have to look at WOMEN it SUCKS to be a man right now!! lolol”

    (but seriously, write an article about how it sucks being a man because ALL the male characters on TV are freaking dumbasses. put this line in that article and it would make perfect sense)

  • Mother

    When are they going to rename this website Ryan O’Connel Catalog? Because everyday there’s articles from this shitty ass immature son of a dick. Is he the owner or something? Please post more of the under published writers… This article should be the last straw for many readers.

    • Erin

      If you don’t want to read his articles, then don’t. Plenty of people on here like what he has to say, but if you don’t – then read something else. Problem Solved!

      • Mother

        Except that TC posts articles with their titles as the most prominent thing, rather than the authors. When TC first came out, I got in the habit of reading the titles as a means of choosing.   As I’m sure many people do, I click to read an interesting title only to find out it is a worthless piece of writing.  So many good ideas are wasted on him.  When I catch that an article is written by him, I only scan it or simply close it.  However, I read this article because I’m interested in any article about women in the media right now, regardless of author.  It’s just that this piece is particularly embarrassing to the author.  When he grows up, he might realize how terrible it is.

      • SEfgc

        Here comes the “if you don’t want to read it, then don’t” defense. You say writers here are entitled to their thoughts. No one is arguing, but commenters are entitled to their comments. If you’re going to keep telling what you just did to every critical commenter, you might as well just close the Disqus threads from here on.

      • Erin

        What’s ridiculous is people commenting on articles by authors who they say they don’t like from reading numerous articles by them. If you know you don’t like what this person has to say, why read it and then comment just to be negative? Do something better with your life. I’ll now wait for the comment that you are entitled to.

      • Benjy

        Not that I thought this article was his best (or his worst) but I like Ryan for the most part. As far as the “if you don’t like it then don’t read it” goes… how will you know if you like something until you read it? You’re silly. ^_^ <3

      • Erin

        When someone comments and specifically targets a certain writer than I think it’s safe to say that they do not like what this persons says. So I’ll go back to what I said before – then don’t read their articles.

    • http://www.nicholeexplainsitall.com EarthToNichole

      I’m not affiliated with TC but to my understanding the main editors have to post 5 or so articles a day, and the other writers account for the rest of the content.

  • SEfgc

    I think you’ve tried really hard not to come off as anti-feminist, which I and some people might appreciate, but even you may not have noticed the internalized sexist tones that came with your article.

    “And, like I said before, if something you think is offensive becomes popular, it’s beneficial to wonder why it became popular in the first place.” 
    You have a point, but people are less discerning and more adaptive when presented with “entertainment.”

  • samanthaphoebe

    Wow. I’m seriously disappointed in you, Ryan. Not only do I disagree with almost every idea you’ve presented here, it was also one of your most poorly written articles. I feel really let down, because I know you get a lot of hate on your articles, but I always have agreed with you up until this point. Maybe let me know when you’re done writing anti-fem crap and referring to women as vaginas? Then we can talk.

    • beatrice

      It’s thought catalog, y so serious…

      • mud

        people still expect things of value here. why dont you leave your comment on everyone who says something negative? 

      • beatrice

        Yes we expect value, but look for value elsewhere, NOT ryan o’connell articles. He surprises me with value sometimes, and it’s always a pleasant surprise. Just know what to expect.

  • RED

    Wow, yeah, the entertainment execs finally caught on that HALF THE POPULATION is made up of females. Why exactly is it so ridiculous that there are (just now, after all these years of idiotic male-centric crap like Two and a Half Men) so many shows about them?

    This article is offensive not so much because it’s blatantly anti-women, but because it’s just stupid.

  • http://twitter.com/ciaoalexis Alexis Brown

    Our culture has always been obsessed with men and the things they do to mark their territory. It’s like the history of the world – culture, politics, the economy, technology – has been one big jizz-war. ~*~*Wh0se splooge is the $pl00gi3sT?!?!*~*~ Obvi I’m grateful for all the real things women (and some men) have accomplished, but we could have had many more “girl moments” if men hadn’t been objectifying and sub-humanizing women in various ways for thousands of years.

    To have a few popular female-centric sitcoms and twitter accounts isn’t really much of a “moment.” After all, women have always been interested in women’s issues – you forgot that, penis. But for every smart thing that Mindy Kaling or Tina Fey does, there are 5 more trashy sitcoms about women humiliating themselves on VH1 and 10 more romantic comedies about imbecilic girls masquerading as women.

    The moments when women are respected and recognized as being intelligent, funny, creative, and interesting are really important, but they are still just moments. When they stop becoming moments is when you should write an actually meaningful article.

    • Anonymous

       ~*~*Wh0se splooge is the $pl00gi3sT?!?!*~*~  
      in tears

  • Pat

    While I agree that this is a poorly written article, I didn’t think it came off as anti-feminist and I really think that Ryan was trying to point out that all this focus on girls in the media is actually a good thing. Just a thought.

    • um

      How thoughtful… Guuuuuurlz, we’re having a moment!!!!!!

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