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I’ll Take Zooey, You can Keep Scarlett

August 28, 2014
This is right before Miss Easy-Going Unlike Your Wife seduces Bradley Cooper.

This is right before Miss Easy-Going Unlike Your Wife seduces Bradley Cooper.

Among women and in the culture at large there exists a belief that women can never get along or be happy for each other. We’re all catty, and just waiting for other women to trip over their stilettos so we can climb the ladder faster to the pinnacle of whatever success we’re pursuing. Whether it’s professional, relational, or just having the most talked-about birthday party for our kid, we want to beat all the other women. Being the best is our game, and Pinterest is our playbook.

The fact is, this is partly true. Are there women I feel competitive toward? Absolutely. But making a broad statement about ALL women being catty and ALL women being unable to get along or show happiness for another’s success is, to put it succinctly, a big, steaming load of crap. It’s quite similar to the notion that all men are bumbling idiots as portrayed in many sitcoms.

After writing all of this, though, I will now admit that there is a group of women that is universally loathed* by their fellow females. A group that causes our hair to curl from the steam emanating from our ears every time we hear someone talk about them or every time they star alongside our favorite actors.

I’m not sure what to call these women, so let’s just call them The Others. A few members of this group include:

  1. Scarlett Johannson

  2. Kate Hudson

  3. Eva Mendes

By looking at this list, you may think “Oh, she just doesn’t like pretty, successful women.” Well you’re wrong. I adore lots of beautiful and successful women, including, but not limited to:

  1. Mindy Kaling

  2. Sandra Bullock

  3. Jennifer Lawrence

  4. Tina Fey

  5. Many women I know in real life

But there is a distinct difference between these two groups of women. I think a great example of The Others, and how “normal” women see them can be found in New Girl. New Girl is about Jessica Day, a twee kindergarten teacher who has three male roommates. Like many comedic characters, Jessica is an extreme personality. She’s cute, emotional, has eyes the size of dinner plates, and believes that most of life’s problems can be made easier by eating baked goods. She randomly bursts into made-up songs, just wants everyone to get along, and probably has birds braid her hair in the morning.

NewGirl01In the first season her roommate starts dating a girl who is the very opposite of Jessica. She is an Other. She finds Jess silly, her perkiness insincere, and she doesn’t even like dessert. Julia spends most of the episode looking down her nose at Jess. At the end, however, Jess gives a speech that sums up what many women are thinking every time the culture tries to tell us that all we boil down to is pumpkin spice lattes and boots worn over skinny jeans.

I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours. I spend my entire day talking to children. And I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person. That’s just weird, and it freaks me out. And I’m sorry I don’t talk like Murphy Brown. And I hate your pantsuit. I wish it had ribbons on it or something to make it just slightly cuter. And that doesn’t mean I’m not smart and tough and strong.

The key point to this, of course, is the last line. Just because someone is a stereotypical female who enjoys chocolate, shopping, and The Notebook, does not mean they’re not also smart, tough and strong.

But not only do The Others not want to be lumped into this group of “normal” women, they look down their down at this group. They have risen above such things as unexplainable bouts of emotion and chocolate cravings. They’d rather hang out with guys because a guy’s feelings don’t get hurt if you don’t text back right away. And more than just about anything, they love to tell you that they hate the color pink.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the things I just mentioned. There is nothing wrong with preferring beer over wine, and blue over pink. More power to you. What irks me, and what I believe irks other women, is the idea that a woman is somehow better or more evolved because of these things. The idea that being emotional, loving the color pink, and eating your feelings are things for which you should be ashamed.

That being said, every time I watch a movie with Scarlett Johansson, I get the distinct feeling that she is the woman you meet you says she has never had a lot of female friends. I’m not entirely convinced her character in “He’s Just Not that Into You” isn’t just Scarlett playing herself.

I think this is why characters like Jessica Day and Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project are so popular. They are, in many ways, a stereotypical female. But their shows don’t make this seem like a silly or shameful thing. Their shows find the humor in it, but also the pride in it.

So I’ll keep Jessica, Mindy and Liz Lemon. You can have Scarlett.

*Universally loathed is probably a strong statement. But what’s the point of having a blog if you aren’t going to make gross overstatements?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Laura McClellan permalink
    August 28, 2014 4:56 pm

    Yes, girl.

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