This isn’t going to be funny. So, if you’re here for the funny, sorry. I’ll try to bring you some shiny funny tomorrow. Like a magpie of funny, I’ll be.
We need to discuss mean girls.
No, not the movie. Although, the movie’s awesome. I like the movie a great deal. It kind of makes me sad, because seeing Lindsay Lohan before she crashed and burned is always a sad thing for me, but it’s a great movie. It’s very funny, and it has a lot of great lines in it.
Before the movie, there was the book. Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence, by Rosalind Wiseman. Before that book, there was Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher. And there’s even Mean Girls Grown Up: Adult Women Who Are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid-to-Bees by Cheryl Dellasega.
Now, if you’re a regular reader, you know I have a vested interest in cliques, and mean girls, and bullying. I keep an eye on things like this. And they upset me.
We all know about mean girls in school. Elementary, junior high, high school. The pretty, popular ones, who set out to make other’s lives a living hell, for what seems to be no reason at all. Even if you didn’t experience it, you’ve no doubt heard about it. How could you not have? It’s everywhere. It’s saturated the media.
And we tell our kids it gets better. That the world is a kinder place, once you leave school. That you find your people, and that you can choose to remove yourself from the presence of the mean girls. And that they get less mean.
And for the most part? That’s true. I’m here to attest to that. Not only is the world a better place once you’re no longer forced to be in a small, confined space with your tormentors, people are, for the most part, kinder. As we get older, it’s just not – well, cool, I guess, to mean girl others, as much as it is when you’re young.
But that’s for the most part.
Mean girls still exist. If you’re lucky, you won’t come across them much, or at all. But odds are good you will. They don’t hide much, you see. They thrive on confrontation. They feed on seeing the pain they’ve inflicted on you. So of course they’re not only out there, they’re lurking and they’re waiting and they’re pouncey. And there’s not much you can do to avoid them. Except stay completely silent, and off the internet completely, and don’t volunteer anywhere, or have a job, or have any sort of social life. So, be a Luddite hermit, then.
I don’t know about you, but that seems like a nightmare to me.
I’m writing this because some people I know were recently mean girled. For no reason whatsoever. I’ve promised not to link to the post where the mean girl spewed her hate all over the internet, because why give her more hits to justify what she’s doing?
But here, in a nutshell, is the situation. My friends write a blog that is just joyous and fun and wonderful. Like they are. The mean girl stumbled upon one of their posts, took it out of context, and wrote an entire post excoriating them, their blog, calling them names, making fun of the post, etc., etc.
For no reason. None at all. She’s not a reader of the blog. She doesn’t know my friends. They haven’t offended her in any way. She just did it because she’s mean, and people that are that mean love to hurt others. It fires them up. It jazzes them. They grow fat on it.
Now, we’ve discussed this before, my completely insane loyalty to my friends. I found out about this, and I wanted to go rip the mean girl a new one. I don’t deal well with bullies and I don’t deal well with my friends being attacked. I was asked not to. That’s good. It’s never good for me to react when I’m pissed. My rages are legendary and they always leave me embarrassed when they’re done. Yes, yes. I probably need anger management. I know. I KNOW.
I’m trying very hard to be calmer, lately. It’s a struggle, but I’m proud of my progress with it. I waited to post this because I didn’t trust myself to be all-caps screamy about it. So I’m going to be very, very calm, for the most part.
The mean girling needs to stop.
We’re grown women. There is no reason for this. We’re not in competition with one another; we’re not all fighting for one brass ring or one single available man or one kickass job or one whatever you value. If we’re mean girling each other, the reason has to be internal. We’re doing it to make ourselves feel bigger or better or more impressive. We’re doing it to build ourselves up where we’re lacking. We’re doing it out of jealousy or anger or just because we’re miserable human beings who feed on other’s pain.
What kind of a person does this? What kind of an emotional vampire feeds on someone’s else’s pain, gets off on someone else’s sorrow? And do you really want to be that person? Think about that, sincerely. Do you want to be the kind of person who is tearing others down in order to build yourself up?
Spoiler alert, darling. IT DOESN’T WORK. You can mean-girl a million other women, you still have to look at yourself in the mirror every morning. You still have to deal with whatever issues you have percolating around in your sad little brain. Issues that, maybe, you might want to work on with a therapist. Because they’re turning you into a monster. Do you want to be a monster? Do you really?
Here’s another thing. If we spent less time mean-girling each other, tearing each other down, making each other feel small and worthless and less-than, think of the unified force we could be. Think of the force to be reckoned with we could be. Women are the majority, population-wise, yet we’re still second-class citizens, in a lot of ways. But if we stood together and we didn’t fight one another? We would be unstoppable. We would be unbeatable.
But we keep tearing each other down in a million little ways. Telling each other we’re not good enough if we’re stay-at-home moms, or if we’re not married, or if we have kids, or if we don’t have kids, or if we don’t have enough kids, or if we have too many kids, or if we’re geeky, or if we’re not geeky enough, or if we’re geeky but about the wrong THINGS, or we’re not pretty enough, or we’re too thin, or we’re too heavy, or we’re just NOT LIKE YOU and therefore WRONG.
I can’t make you stop. I can’t stop each and every one of you from doing this. Of course I can’t.
Here’s the thing. I know I’ve mean girled before. And I can almost guarantee that some, if not all of you, reading this, have mean girled before. Now, there’s a difference between standing up for yourself or those you love and mean girling; there’s a difference between not being friendly and mean girling; there’s a difference between ignoring someone and mean girling (although those who feel you’ve wronged them may erroneously label it as such.) Mean girling is, very simply, tearing someone else down, publicly. Your reasons may vary – personal gain, general meanness, anger over one thing or another, general insanity, making yourself feel better, who knows what drives you.
So I’m just asking – please think before you act. Are you about to blast someone online? Is it a celebrity who’s done something hateful? Fine. Is it someone who wrote an article, and you’re rebutting that article (in an ADULT WAY, please?) Again, fine. Is it someone you don’t know, that you’ve never met, and they didn’t do anything other than ACT IN A WAY YOU WOULDN’T? And they’re NOT HARMING ANYONE? And are your words going to hurt them?
Back away from the computer. You have officially passed over into mean girl territory. The only thing that down that path is madness and hurtfulness and do you really want to do this? Do you really want to put more evil out there into the world? There’s already so much out there. Do you really want to add to it?
Or, how about this. You could switch it up and do the exact opposite. You could NICE girl someone. You could tell someone how much you love them, or admire them, or how much the most recent thing they wrote/drew/created touched you. You could tell someone how much they mean to you. How much you love having them in your life. You could support them through a hard time. You could celebrate a joyous time with them. You could live your life in the most positive, joyous way you know how. It might be hard? But try it for a little while. Here’s a tip: it starts getting easier. It turns out it’s a muscle you have to build up. And once you exercise it enough? Being kind and supportive and loving becomes second nature. And people respond in kind. People mirror your behavior. People are less likely to mean girl others when you’re modeling this behavior.
I promise it’s true. I know it is. I’ve seen it happen.
Women, we are amazing, in all of our differences. We are beautiful and we are strong and we are intelligent and we are funny and we are MILLIONS. And if we collectively spent our energy positively? Oh, that’s a world I want to live in. That’s a world I want to see.
Just stop and think? Please? Think of it as a personal favor to me, if you need to. I won’t ruin the ending by telling you that it’s really a personal favor to yourself.
Remember I mentioned Mean Girls? And the good quotes? How about “Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter…All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.”
(Mandy at Borkadventures and Wine Librarian at Homance Diaries blogged recently about this topic, and I want to give them both some love. Both of their posts have been read and are highly approved by yours truly. Give them a click, you’ll be glad you did.)