The Rise of the Bad Girl

The new wave of feminism has redefined the term "Bad Girl" - and it's more empowering than you think.

BY KATE FARRELL

From the Future is Female logo, to the empowering #MeToo movement, to women taking to the streets yelling, “This pussy grabs back!” there’s no denying that the female empowerment is gaining momentum now more than ever. And women have been embracing this revolution by creating a new persona for women: the “Bad Girl.”

While it’s tempting to envision an all-female Mad Max-esque crew tearing across the desert in ever so chic festival-like attire, a Bad Girl isn’t (exactly) like that. We use the term bad to describe something wrong, so it would make sense to envision today’s unruly woman as some kind of bandit; tearing through society, breaking rules, and probably wearing a ski mask and all black (you can tell how many crimes I’ve committed right?!).

What’s amazing to me about the Bad Girl persona isn’t that she breaks rules; it’s the fact those rules she breaks even exist. The Bad Girl is loud: she speaks her opinion and refuses to take no for an answer. The Bad Girl is unapologetic: she doesn’t say sorry for what she’s wearing, who she is sleeping with, or what career she decides to pursue. The Bad Girl embraces her femininity without needing to conform to what that is “supposed” to look like: she farts, she drinks, she swears and she smokes,  and no, she won’t make you a sandwich

For so long, women have been told that we need to stay in our place. The rules we are breaking were meant to keep us quiet, silent, submissive. In my own life, I always thought that the way to be successful and stay safe was to be a “good girl”.  Societal norms/expectations for women coupled with my own severe anxiety and OCD equaled me acting in ways that kept me confined.  I liked to blend into the background and do what was told. I trembled at the thought of upsetting someone.  Lying, cheating, stealing? No chance.  Because this notion of needing to be good all the time was heightened by the rules created by my mental illnesses, I couldn’t actually live the way I wanted too. My insecurities and fears of breaking out of the role of “the good girl” were so great that I seriously thought I wasn’t always following those rules, than something bad would happen. I grew up thinking that the world was this dangerous place and that bad things were sure to fall upon those girls who didn’t do as they were told.

The same pattern of needing to follow those societal norms followed me into my teenage years and into my life even now.  I noticed that not all of my female peers were in that same rule-abiding mindset. Some didn’t care about the consequences of speaking up, about refusing to back down from their point, about going after what they wanted in their personal or academic/professional life. However, insecurities about needing to fit in were heightened during my ever-so-awkward high school days. See, I was so scared of being seen as a Bad Girl because I grew up under the belief that it what characterized someone as a Bad Girl were also features that people didn’t like, didn’t respect and therefore didn’t want to be associated with.

The rise of the Bad Girl isn’t just about women who are taking to the streets yelling at disrespectful men; for me, it’s a becoming.  It is a becoming of who we, as women, were truly meant to be before we were told by society that we shouldn’t behave a certain way because that’s just the way things are. The Bad Girl doesn’t need to go tearing through the streets to make herself known, sometimes all she needs to do is speak up for what she wants and go after what she wants.

So, are the Bad Girls really that bad? Realistically, no. The Bad Girls of today aren’t breaking the law, they are simply refusing to blend in to the background. They are refusing to submit to the patriarchal order that has guided our society for centuries.

The Bad Girls aren’t saying sorry for being who they are and we’re looking good doing it.