26 Nov In Defense of Girl Gangs Everywhere
Recently, EJ Dickson of Mic.com published a not-so-flattering article about Taylor Swift and her posse of famous female friends (read the article here). In her article, she argues why this group is less of a show of female empowerment, and more of an almighty clique with the power to do more harm than good. Dickson went as far as to say that groups like these can act as a low-key form of bullying. Dickson, who goes into great detail about her own experience with cliques and girl groups as a child, emphasizes that these groups often use their strength in numbers to callously bully those outside of the group.
The article is not wrong in that groups of girls can often bully others, but so do groups of boys. And groups of girls and boys. And individual girls, and individual boys. The point is that targeting groups of women and girls as the main perpetrators is not only wrong, but it works to dismantle the pride and feelings of solidarity that groups of female friends can foster. As Dickson notes, the #squadgoals movement has done wonders to make celebrating female friendships cool, and to make building each other up and praising the successes of others an act of power. By targeting groups that are doing this, Dickson is devaluing that movement, and saying that girls that are friends with other girls are a threat and should be treated as such.
The most maddening part of Dickson’s argument is that Taylor Swift and her group of friends, who are the main target of this article, haven’t actually done anything wrong. There have been no reports of Swift or any of her famous friends ganging up on others, and most of the time when they make headlines, they are celebrating each other’s success in their careers or personal lives. Dickinson mentions multiple times that groups of females are particularly “dangerous” when the members are attractive, which sounds like it stems from her own bad experiences rather than any sort of empirical fact.
Dickson calls out Taylor Swift’s group of friends not because they have bullied anyone, but because they have the potential to. By doing this, she paints the picture of female friend groups, which ostensibly exist to love and support one another, with an undercurrent of jealousy, manipulation, and cattiness.
I’m not going to go as far as to say that Dickson is anti-feminist, because I don’t think she is trying to be. She does highlight some of the benefits of celebrating womanhood and allying with other girls instead of competing against them. However, I do think that by projecting her own negative experiences onto all groups of girls, she’s doing a huge disservice to #squads everywhere.
Paige Guscott, Online Reviewer
Image: Chris Pizzello at Invision/AP