“As soon as teenage girls start to profess love for something, everyone else becomes totally dismissive of it. Teenage girls are open season for the cruelest bullying that our society can dream up. Everyone’s vicious to them. They’re vicious to each other. Hell, they’re even vicious to themselves. It’s terrible.
“So if teenage girls have something that they love, isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t it better for them to find some words they believe in, words like the ‘fire-proof and fearless’ lyrics that Jacqui wrote? Isn’t it better for them to put those words on their arm in a tattoo than for them to cut gashes in that same skin? Shouldn’t we be grateful when teenage girls love our work? Shouldn’t that be a fucking honor?
“It’s used as the cheapest, easiest test of crap, isn’t it? If teenage girls love a movie, a book, a band, then it’s immediately classified as mediocre shit. Well, I’m not going to stand for that. Someone needs to treat them like they’re precious, and if nobody else is ready to step up, I guess it’s up to us to put them on the path to recognizing that about themselves.””
a character from The Devil’s Mixtape. (via valjeans)
Every now and then, something comes along on your dash that opens your eyes and makes you question assumptions you didn’t even realize you were making.
This former teenage girl fell in love with Rush, RPGs, Russian literature, ancient history, sci fi flicks, and Led Zeppelin. I’d say she had pretty good taste. So why have I always defaulted to marginalizing or dismissing the tastes of other teenage girls? Why have I always counted the large teenage female presence in fandom as a black mark against it, or at least something that needs to be explained or surmounted for older fans to participate or engage? Why have I assumed that teenage girls as a whole are incapable of critical analysis or meaningful engagement with the same media that I enjoy, when it was the critical analysis and meaningful engagement of a teenage girl that got me into much of the same media I enjoy now?
Wow. Talk about not even recognizing the patriarchy at work.
I love the above quote — and the above commentary — but I have to say, this former teenage girl fell in love with boy bands, musical theatre, ballet, YA literature, 20th century history, movies with Muppets, and fluppy-haired singers with guitars… and she had good taste, too. She was the one being marginalized, and is still marginalized, for liking what she likes passionately, critically, and with the same amount of nuance as fans of Rush or RPGs or scifi flicks or Led Zeppelin, and whose fandoms are considered skidmarks wholesale because of their target demographics. And that is wrong.
A teenage girl doesn’t have to “transcend” what anyone’s idea of a teenage girl is to have worth and value and taste and reasons for liking what she likes, and the idea that you can’t judge teenage girls harshly because they might NOT like those things is just… the other side of judging teenage girls harshly because of the assumption that they do.
What you enjoy does not determine your intelligence, your emotional capacity, or your ability to reason, analyze, synthesize, and transform the media you consume. Any, and all, media can be — and should be, and I’d say MUST be — “critically analyzed and meaningfully engaged,” and yes, that includes media whose target demographic is teenage girls. Perhaps especially media whose target demographic is teenage girls, because it is the most maligned, the most ignored, and the most likely to be oppressing its audience through sheer devaluation and denigration of their worth.
As Natalie Zina Walschotts said: “…[T]een girls have rich inner lives and feel deeply. They are looking for ways to navigate a difficult world and cling to the work that means something to them, that helps them define and defend themselves. Because their day-to-day lives are incredibly intense, their attention is difficult to attract, but the things that reach them matter profoundly. …[T]eenage girls love the things they become fans of with a burning and transformative energy. The things that they love become a part of their core identity. They define themselves by the art that they like, the fandoms they ascribe to and the media they consume.”
Whatever those things are being consumed, whether Dostoyevsky or Condie, Rush or One Direction, RPGs or OPI, scifi or chick flick, they need to be given the consideration of respect for their consumers. Because those consumers? Do internalize it. In a profound, profound way. If you are defining yourself through media that the world is telling you makes you stupid for enjoying, that has repercussions.
Slapdash media pumped out for quick chump change on the back of the belittling of an entire demographic is not alright, and the passive acceptance of that practice by our own peers in that demographic because we are all seen, by someone, as “the other kind of teenage girl”? Is not okay.