Dot Dot Dot: The problem with girl problems

Madison Bray

Swagger? I hardly know her. The manufactured self-presentation of young women online distracts from the real issues women face.


If you listened to teenage girls, you’d learn that the biggest problem confronting women in the world is apparently haters.

Rebecca Black, the “Friday” diva, has them. (She intends to see them later, as right now she’s having a moment.) So does X Factor creation Cher Lloyd, who encourages haters to obtain their own “swagger jagger.” Madison Bray, the latest creation of Ark Music Factory, Black’s original record label, dismisses haters through the power of her girl swag, which she presumably borrowed from Kreayshawn, the Oakland rappeuse who has swag coming out of her ovaries.

Better click our like buttons, their acts suggest, lest ye be deemed a nonliking hater.

The notion that you may not be universally liked—especially on the Internet, which has an unforgiving way of revealing such facts—is a harrowing rite of passage, and passion, we all need to face. And I suppose there are worse reactions than discovering your inner swagger and, I don’t know, jagging it.

But these are not real girl problems. These are fake girl problems.

Should we talk about a real problem faced by women? Domestic violence, which is overwhelmingly committed by people who claim, in theory, to “like” or even “love” their victims.

That’s why we found it so disturbing when #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend started trending on Twitter over the weekend. It may have started as a joke, but many Twitterers seemed to take its premise seriously—that beating your girlfriend is somehow acceptable at times. It’s not. Ever.

Twitter has said it doesn’t censor tweets, nor should it. But it can and should choose carefully what it presents on its homepage. Yes, Twitter has the potential to present the real-time consciousness of the planet. But must we give our nasty collective id center stage?

On a less serious note: Everyone seems to find it acceptable to bash haters. What if it’s your moment, you’re discovering who you are and what you’re all about, and what you are is a hater?

Well, then, I guess you go find your people in the comment threads on Reddit and YouTube.

Far more appealing than the manufactured swagger of Black, Lloyd, or Bray is the simple self-assertion of loveworthfallingfor, a 15-year-old singer-songwriter who accompanies herself on the ukulele. She certainly attracted her share of haters when her YouTube video rocketed to the front page of Reddit.

And she gives me hope that women will one day find themselves truly at home on the Internet—not gawked at, hated, stalked, or otherwise made unwelcome. Swagger—as implicitly defined by YouTube culture, the manufactured presentation of a false self—shouldn’t be a requirement.

Hey, girl, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. But if you don’t? You have a right to take part in life online, too.

Girl-swag research assistance provided by Daily Dot intern Jordan Valinsky.

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