Mean Girls: A Feminist Manifesto?

In honour of the official day of Mean Girls, last week’s October 3rd, I thought I would reflect on the infinite wisdom that this iconic (yes, iconic) movie passed onto us in our most impressionable years.

1. Girls have got to stick together.

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Gretchen’s insight might just be as big as her hair. Well no, but she certainly hit the mark on this one.

Women need each other to succeed in this world. Without loyalty and support from fellow females, the current paradigm can toss us aside without a second thought.

And besides, it is just so not cool when your friend dates your ex.

2. We need to lead by example.

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In my first post I discussed how detrimental it is when people let misogynistic comments slide. In the same vein, Tina (what a gem) explains just how harmful it is when people perpetuate these expressions themselves.

Do you want to be called a slut? No. So don’t call someone else a slut.

Do you want these terms to be prevalent in society? No. So recognize the implications of what you say, and improve your diction.

3. We must stick up for ourselves.

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The world is full of bullies, idiots and skeptics. In order to protect ourselves against these people we need to stick up for ourselves.

I have many friends who support feminist principles and self-identify as feminists, yet when someone puts down a notion or makes a point against the movement, they deflate themselves and stay quiet.

In a time and place where feminism is often seen as a negative association, it’s best to grow a backbone.

Furthermore, one day someone might shout, “you can go shave your back now”, and you won’t be able to keep your mouth shut.

4. Inaction is just as harmful as action.

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We’ve been told this time and time again in bullying seminars: bystanders have responsibilities. This applies to all areas of life.

When someone posts something offensive on social media, denigrates a cause, or makes a sexist comment, it is the responsibility of those in the crowd to take a stand.

Because if no one voices an opposing opinion, why would they stop?

5. Females are told to cherish their body, not their mind.

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Throughout the entire movie, an overarching theme is weight preoccupation amongst teenage girls.

Regina goes on a “no-carb diet” to try to lose three pounds, and as revenge Cady gives her energy bars in order to make her gain weight.

This was the most vindictive thing these girls could think of. In their eyes, making Regina gain weight was the WORST possible thing that could happen to her.

Means Girls exemplified that the most important thing for a girl to be is pretty. Forget about joining the mathletes, that’s social suicide.

This movie perfectly captured how patriarchy promotes skewed priorities for females, and how toxic this is for vulnerable teenagers.

6. We must remember who we are and be proud.

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Kevin Gnapoor, Math Enthusiast/Bad-Ass M.C., said it best.

No matter who you are or what you believe in, someone will always scrutinize you. As a feminist in today’s society, a large target is put on your back for people to constantly challenge you and try to put you down.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore your morals and beliefs, or cast aside your feminist values. It means you should let them know your objections or walk away with your head held high.

Either way, continuing to do your thang is crucial for the feminist movement.

Creators of Mean Girls, we thank you. Not just for making us pee our pants with laughter, but for teaching us concepts that will help us throughout our lives.

That is so totally fetch.

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11 comments

  1. Love it Paula. Going to rescreen to see if I can show this at school. We so need sisterhood in the hood!

  2. I would argue that in the case of Regina, making her gain weight was the worst thing that could happen to HER – because that’s all she had going for her. This can’t necessarily be generalized to all women. Being successful in life is truly a result of finding a happy medium in all things. One shouldn’t focus on looks and neglect taking care of themselves, nor should they do the opposite. Its all about balance.

    1. Thanks for your comment Bianca.
      I certainly agree that life is a balancing act.
      With this point I was trying to illustrate the unbalanced emphasis all the girls in the movie (not just Regina) put on looks, rather than hobbies, skills or intelligence. [Cue scene where all the girls critique themselves in front of a mirror.]

  3. One shouldn’t focus solely on intelligence and neglect taking care of their appearance* (brain fart)

  4. This is fantastic. I love your points about having a responsibility to take action and to stop allowing people to disrespect with the names that women are often called. I am ashamed to say that I had an encounter today where I should have said something, but I didn’t. I overheard three men talk about a woman in a horrific demeaning way. I turned around and have them a dirty look but I regret not saying something to them. I know for next time to not hesitate and how it is so important to speak out.
    Thanks for the post!

    1. Rebekah,
      Thanks for pointing out how common these occurrences are, and how difficult it can be as a bystander. Hopefully we will all work towards taking a stand!

  5. Airu-chan · · Reply

    Reblogged this on The Rest Is Still Unwritten.

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