Wednesday, 23 May 2012

When did we become Mean Girls?

We have a lot to thank social networking for; bringing us together, keeping us in touch and teaching us things about the world, other cultures and societies we may not have known about without it. Mainly though, I think the thing we need to appreciate most is the fact it has given every single one of us a platform in which to express ourselves and it has made it so much easier to let important issues be aired and shared with the world.

Of course, good and bad comes out of everything, and social media to me seems to be losing its sparkle and descending into quite a gloomy place none of us ticked a box for when we signed up for our Facebook accounts. It’s the platform element that is what has burst that once fun water balloon and it has left us all pretty annoyed and soggy. It would be easy to plainly comment on the so called “trolling” phenomenon that has swept social networking sights, but even as horrific as it is and despite it being the main reason that social networking is losing its appeal, I want to talk about the people who aren’t anonymous.

I was scrolling down my newsfeed on Facebook today when I saw a girl that I went to school with informing us all on yet another of her social opinions. I suppose I am a hypocrite when I say I find her unbelievably annoying, because if anyone else complained about someone on their newsfeed I would tell them point blank to delete them. To me if you don’t like someone’s opinion on Facebook, don’t cause a petty argument, simply remove him or her from your friends list and get on with your life. But what stopped me from deleting her when I detoxed my Facebook friends list last month, deleting two hundred people that I had never even considered friends, was actually in fact these outrageous opinions that she broadcasts to her one thousand plus friends every few hours. No exaggeration. They are frankly fascinating and I really wonder how on earth she reaches these conclusions.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, beliefs, moral codes and views. But that’s just what it is, their own. I’m all for free speech and sticking up for what you believe in, just don’t go sticking it down my throat.  Even if you do decide to air your views to a mass of public because you want their ‘likes’ as reassurance, make sure what you write isn’t completely na├»ve, misinformed, small minded and deluded. Maybe its because I am doing a Journalism degree that constantly informs us of this, but if you have something to say, make sure you can back it up.

Probably the reason I am finally writing this is because waking up to this particular status update made me want to hit her round the head with 80 years of feminism. We are our own worst nightmare at times, girls. It’s true, we would rule the world if we could all get on.

So maybe you want to know what she said that actually got me this riled up? What could possibly get me so angry that I would finally fire up my Word processor for the first time since finishing University for the summer? Well, it was “Bum shorts”.

For anyone in the dark about what “Bum shorts” are, they are a relatively new item of fashion that I simply don’t have the legs for. “Bum shorts” bring a new meaning to the song “I like short shorts”. Basically, they are shorts that mean a little bit of your bum is out. You know that little bit where your leg joins – the bit that you either have or you don’t. Well, to be honest, whilst I will never wear them - as the UV glow from white legs would blind people - I think they’re really cool. As my Mum says “If you’ve got it, flaunt it”. One of my friends looks really good in them and like any item of clothing, if you’ve got the confidence to wear it, I think you should go for it. It’s how YOU feel in them that is the main thing.

The girl annoyed me by saying that any girl who wore “Bum shorts” should expect to be called a “Slag”. Taking this totally out of context here, but is this being extended to everyone? Even Ann Widdecombe? Would it be justified to say that she slept around just because she decided to choose an item of clothing that showed off what great legs she could have hiding under her trouser suits? Firstly, whose business is it whoever someone decides to sleep with (cheating is a whole different ball game, don’t throw that one in there) and also, last time I checked we weren’t in the 1920s anymore. Woman now have freedoms as much as men do to dress as they like, without being outcast from society for it – or labelled because of their choice of skin exposure.

On a more serious note, neither does any woman deserve to be assumed to be “up for it” just because of what she chooses to wear. The fact that anyone could justify a sexual assault because of how a woman chose to dress, actually sickens me and should disgust anyone. Of course, if you choose to flaunt what your mamma gave you, looks from men are to be expected and we all like the appreciative double-take once in a while, don’t we girls? But that’s where it stops. Men in night clubs seem to assume that putting their hand up a girls skirt that they don’t know is perfectly acceptable, why is that? At the end of the day, it’s sexual assault.

My Mum once went on a night out, and ended up in a nightclub with a load of her friends, talking to some men that she didn’t know – she is great at banter. My Mum is married, so she wasn’t looking for any man to grow old with. However, a disgusting middle-aged man decided he needed somewhere to rest his hand. This place turned out to be my Mothers bum. Like-mother like-daughter, straight away she asked him what the hell he thought he was doing. To which he replied “You’re a bit touchy, love!”… And my babe of a Mother came out with “I think you’re the one whose a bit touchy, mate!”. I can vouch for the fact my Mum looked unbelievably stunning that night, but no matter how she looked and what she was wearing, why did that jerk think that was an okay thing to do?

I am not going off on a completely irrelevant tangent here. I need to ask you girls something; Don’t you think our off-the-cuff derogatory comments about the members of the same sex, play a little bit of a part in the fact men think this is okay? How do we expect men to treat us with respect, if we simply don’t offer that respect to the girls around us?

Why should we expect to be assumed a “slag” because of the way we dress or dance in a nightclub? Surely it’s sisterhood. We all know what its like to get ready for a night out when we don’t feel particularly good about ourselves then have comments made about your dress, as you walk past, made by girls who think they're whispering in the toilets or just because you are hilariously acting out a Nicki Minaj song in the middle of a dance floor with one of your guy best mates, to be labelled a “slut”. If we all know what it’s like, why do we keep on doing it?

What I think we all need to do is get along like we used to in middle school... I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy…. Okay, sorry, this is not Mean Girls.

I don’t think we all realise that this is not going to get any better if we don’t finally figure out that we are in this together. This assault course called life. We still live in a male dominated world. Not only that, but most of the time they are pitting us girls up against each other. Decades after equality laws were passed, women in this country are still being paid less than men for the same work. It may not be obvious discrimination – it has become so much more clever now – but it is wrong all the same, and we need to stand up for ourselves. I’m not wanting people to think I am a bitter feminist who wants everyone to burn they’re bras. I am the first to admit that I have used my cleavage a few times to get what I want in restaurants and there is nothing wrong with having a bit of “Get back in the kitchen” banter. I’m also not here to judge your life choices. You can have your husband’s dinner on the table for him when he walks through the door every night, that’s your business – that’s no longer what feminism is about. What I am talking about is being treated equally, and for it to not be expected that a derogatory comment get thrown at you just because you’re wearing “Bum shorts”.

I am also not saying that you should become a feminist, I am not here to brainwash you. Social networking has made peoples opinions and lives into a business. However a persons Facebook profile doesn’t enable us to see someone’s thoughts, feelings and demons. I believe that no one has the right to judge anyone, as you have no idea fully of what has happened to them in their life, how they feel and their thought process – only they know that. So spare yourself a wasted status that makes someone feel self-conscious, embarrassed or lowers their self-esteem. What are you doing it for anyway?

We are all trying to get to the other side of this life without too many cuts and bruises, so maybe us girls could help each other out. Who’s with me?

Live. Laugh. Love.