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‘Girls Are Assholes’ doesn’t skewer misogynist stereotypes, it just repeats them
These videos aren’t funny, they’re just misogynist and reductive.
The YouTube series Girls Are Assholes started out by retreading tired but essentially harmless ground. But the channel’s latest video has clearly crossed a line.
The series’ debut, “Girls Are Assholes: At Lunch,” dissected the ridiculous, stereotypical behavior of women when it comes to eating out. It features a pair of female friends, who pretty much hate each other, competing at lunch to see who can eat the least. The women are portrayed as smug, obsessed with seeming thin, and competitive to their own detriment.
When it comes to webseries, I usually adhere to a strict Internet rule of “If I don’t like it, I don’t have to watch it.” But Girls Are Assholes is proving difficult to ignore. It’s two for two on making Reddit’s front page, and it’s only growing more popular.
This week, Girls Are Assholes released its second video, and it appears to be a bitter men’s rights activist’s fever dream. In it, a young man in a hoodie approaches a pair of girls at a bar and respectfully asks to buy one of them a drink. She politely refuses, and he walks away. Once he’s out of earshot, her friend comments on guys being “creepy.”
Just then, a more conventionally handsome man approaches the duo. It becomes clear that he’s been stalking one of the girls, but because she’s blinded by his looks, she leaves with him. Then, the downtrodden “Nice Guy” tries to talk to her friend, who nails him in the face with pepper spray. They spurn him solely because of his looks and his hoodie! Women are all shallow bitches! If they go home with a creep, they deserve what they get!
The Girls Are Assholes videos are pathetic. They don’t point out what’s funny about the stereotypes they pretend to call out, they just repeat them and then stare lazily at the camera like, “Get it?!!?” The’re no punchline, no subtlety, no originality.
Naming the series Girls Are Assholes does nothing to explain the context of why these things may be happening. Instead, the videos ignore the source of the issues and perpetuate insulting simplifications. Why are the women in these videos assholes? Because they can choose who they spend time with even if those choices are deemed “wrong” by other men?
But anyone who’s ever dated in the real world knows that, like the “friend zone,” that’s a misogynistic myth. “Be handsome” is not the first rule. The first rule is “don’t have a goddamn chip on your shoulder and feel bitterly entitled to have sex with someone just for acting nice.” In general, women date and are attracted to a variety of men. The only thing universally unattractive about a guy is that mopey “Why don’t girls like me?” attitude, and the controlling and archaic idea that a woman has no right to choose her own sex partners.
Not only are the videos ass-backwards ‘80s “women be like this/men be like this” comedy, but because they are partially created by a woman, they’re also the webseries equivalent of Taylor Swift’s “She wears short skirts / I wear T-shirts” brand of throwing other women under the bus to be “one of the boys.”
In an interview with Carol Hartsell at Huffington Post Comedy, Yael Zinkow, the female half of the comedy duo, argued that the series was from a female perspective.
“People don’t often use the word ‘asshole’ to describe girls; it’s usually a term reserved for men,” Zinkow said. “So we hoped the phrasing would convey the humor and the lightness of tone we’re going for—and maybe even level the playing field a bit! After all, why should anything be reserved for men?”
It’s hard to argue these videos take a female perspective, because they simply chalk women’s behavior up to “They suck, right?!”
An actual comedy about how women can be assholes would be hilarious. This clueless and warped way of thinking is not.
Screengrab via YouTube
Gaby Dunn is an actress, comedian, and blogger who covered YouTube for the Daily Dot. Since 2016, she’s hosted the podcast ‘Bad with Money,’ and operates a successful YouTube channel. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Vice, and Salon.