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This post comes from two things:

1) A quote I saw making the Tumblr rounds, which said, “I’m not like other girls!” It went on to avow wearing Converse instead of heels, preferring computer games to shopping, so on and so forth. When I saw it, about 41,000 girls had said they weren’t like “the others.”

2) A few weeks ago, I posted a comment on Twitter saying that, if the internet had been around in 1980 (the year “Empire Strikes Back” came out), we’d all be Team Luke or Team Han. Some guy took it upon himself to inform me - to explain to me, like I was not alive and aware during that year – that “girls didn’t like Star Wars.” He insisted that we were, in 1980, only interested in Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy, the heartthrob stars of “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.” (Surely some girls also liked Pamela Sue Anderson as Nancy Drew, but we shall let the heteronormative side of this slide for now.)

Let’s try to count everything that’s wrong with that, if we can:



In 1980, EVERYONE EVERYWHERE IN THE WHOLE WORLD LOVED STAR WARS. I cannot emphasize this enough. From 1977 to 1983, Star Wars was basically as popular as Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, One Direction, American Idol, NASCAR, chocolate, and oxygen, combined. Also, EVERYONE EVERYWHERE IN THE WHOLE WORLD includes girls. I personally built an X-Wing fighter simulator in my closet, owned a “Star Wars Passport” that guaranteed me entry to Mos Eisley Spaceport and Cloud City (have not tested this, more’s the pity), and had collected a group of Star Wars action figures that rivaled my brother’s in quantity and desirability. He really only had the edge because the Millennium Falcon playset was his, though I played with it nearly as much as he did. (Once, when allowed to borrow the Lando Calrissian action figure that was clearly and undeniably my property, said brother traded it to another kid – for a lowly Hoth Ranger, no less! – and that remains a point of contention to this day. Yes, we’re in our 40s. Your point?)

And no, I was not the only girl out there who felt that way. All my friends loved Star Wars. Lucasfilm made Princess Leia dolls, and Princess Leia bubble bath, and Princess Kneesa stuffed Ewoks with pink headwraps; they knew there were little girls who loved and wanted these things. I’m in a Mardi Gras krewe here in New Orleans called Chewbacchus – cofounded by a woman – in which women and men both dress up in science fiction costumes to parade around. A good friend of mine named Jen Heddle loved Star Wars as a kid, then as an adult, so much and so deeply that she now works for Lucasfilm. Every single one of those women grew up loving Star Wars. No, it wasn’t just me.

And you know what? I loved Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy too.* Why? They were cute, damn it. And that is JUST FINE.

Because we’re all individuals – we’re all big enough to contain multiple enthusiasm, multiple ways of life. Everyone. And, as I said above, everyone includes girls.

It saddens me to see girls proudly declaring they’re not like other girls – especially when it’s 41,000 girls saying it in a chorus, never recognizing the contradiction. It’s taking a form of contempt for women – even a hatred for women – and internalizing it by saying, Yes, those girls are awful, but I’m special, I’m not like that, instead of stepping back and saying, This is a lie.

“I know someone like that!” you might be saying. Well, a bunch us know someone like that. But does that description fit most of the girls and women you know? The people you spend time with? Why should those few individuals define us all, and why would we buy into that perception? And also, even the people you think are like that? You might be surprised what’s going on beneath the surface.

The real meaning of “I’m not like the other girls” is, I think, “I’m not the media’s image of what girls should be.” Well, very, very few of us are. Pop culture wants to tell us that we’re all shallow, backstabbing, appearance-obsessed shopaholics without a thought in our heads beyond cute boys and cuter handbags. It’s a lie – a flat-out lie – and we need to recognize it and say so instead of accepting that judgment as true for other girls, but not for you.

They will tell you that everything girls love is stupid and horrible. They said that about Elvis Presley; they said it about the Beatles; they said it about Frank Sinatra. Guys didn't discover those artists, now recognized to be among the greatest of all time. GIRLS DID. Meanwhile, they will tell you that everything that appeals to guys is actually really cool, in defiance of all reason. There are grown men who will get into arguments about Optimus Prime.

And yet -- there are girls who love Transformers! And guys who had huge crushes on Elvis!

Me? I wear Converse instead of heels. I definitely spend more time on Tumblr than I do shopping. I continue to be interested in Star Wars. And you know what? Today, I bought two handbags. One of them was pink. That doesn’t make me shallow, vapid, unintelligent or incapable of enjoying absolutely anything I’d like to enjoy. It just makes me someone with a killer cute pink handbag.

What I’m trying to say is, There are as many ways to be “girly” as there are girls in this world. There are always going to be people out there telling you that if you like things pop culture tells you are girly, you’re stupid, and that if you claim to like things pop culture tells you are guy stuff, you’re lying. And what I’m saying is that all these people are full of crap.

Love what you love. Be proud of it. Anybody who tells you what you “should” or “should not” like, because you’re a girl, is a big fat liar. You ARE like the other girls, like we all are, in that none of us came off some Female Assembly Line. We’re all individuals. We should all get to express it without being judged – either by pop culture or by ourselves.

*Though I loved them back in 1977, when that series was actually on; it was off the air by 1980. Stupid Belligerent Pop Culture Dude did not even know Pop Culture. It’s sad, really.



I shall now dismount my soapbox and get back to the important work of revising my latest book outline and looking at cute pictures of James McAvoy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
*wild applause*
STAR WARS FOREVER.
In the early 80s I loved Star Wars with a white-hot passion. I'm still jealous when I see they've put out a new book, like the technical manual of the Millennium Falcon, or toy or anything else that I would have loved to have back then. I'm still sort of tempted to buy it now, but it's just not the same.
I may still have my vintage copy of THE ART OF STAR WARS.
I always thought of it as "I'm not like other girls--I'm me." Deviance from some arbitrarily established norm is not the same thing as individuality, and should not be treated as such. And for the record, my first memory is watching "Star Wars" with my dad, who made it his fatherly mission to ensure that both his children knew that Mos Eiseley was a wretched hive of scum and villainy. *grins*

Share any excessively cute pictures of James McAvoy you find!
Oh, I share the pics of the McAvoy constantly. Join me on Tumblr and we shall admire him together.
YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES.

That is all.
:D
YES. I love this. Thank you!
Glad you like!
Yes yes yes. No wrong way to be a girl. *delighted*
Exactly! But the advertising machine can't sell us what we already are.
Well said!

(Hi, btw =) Found this post through a Twitter link. It's about time someone said this!
So glad you like!
I was 13 in 1977 and my friends and I spent whole Saturdays that summer paying the matinee price to get in at the first showing and not leaving until we had seen it 2-3 times. I am still mad because my parents said I was too old for Star Wars sheets but bought them for my little brother who didn't care about Star Wars even half as much as I did. When I discovered a few years ago that there was a Princess Leia doll that was even prettier (better face mould) than the one I was denied as a kid I bought her from a collectors store without asking how much she cost. I didn't care about Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy, but that was because I thought Han Solo was 500 times hotter, LOL.

I wear lolita fashion and I spend loads of time shopping and obsessing about clothes from Japan, but that's a hobby that I have in large part because I have been a geek all my freaking life. I have been an SF/F fan since I was 4. (I don't really care for high heels, but don't ask me how many pairs of pastel Mary Janes I have. And I do have Converse, they are pink eyelet.) I collect dolls and I lift weights. I love computers and sewing. Women who look down on me because they think it's not possible to be both girly and geeky break my heart a little bit. The only people who benefit when women fight over who wants to be one of the boys and be just like the boys (because the boys are better) and who is properly girly are guys, and it's just a new variation of the madonna/whore complex--guys wanting women who are happy to be their servants at home, and other, more interesting (to them) women, who will do the stuff they think is fun, and play along with their games, but whom they will generally not commit themselves to. When a guy tells you that you're not like the other girls, he's telling you he doesn't like women very much (and that you should never date him), and any girl who believes it is liable to get hurt.

Everyone should be themselves, and remember that anyone who only likes you contingent upon you repressing this or that part of yourself doesn't actually really like you at all.

Edited at 2012-06-26 04:21 pm (UTC)
Your last sentence = total truth.
Preach it, Sister.

And may I just say that when half my generation of girls went crazy over Mr. Spock (okay, half may be an exaggeration, some of us liked Capt. Kirk) I thought this argument had been put to rest.

Of course I also thought we were done with a time when a woman could be silenced in a legislative body because she used the medical correct term for part of the female anatomy. Sigh.
Oh, man, don't even get me started on Michigan.
This is incredibly AWESOME. And I love that you're in a crewe called Chewbacchus!
Chewbacchus is AWESOME. I didn't get to march this year due to another parade I was in being moved -- thus is the greatness of Mardi Gras -- but this year, nothing stops me. (And I did get to make tons of Chewbacca bandoliers for throwaway and participate in the costume ball.)
I was such a hipster Hardy Boys fan. "Everybody else" (that I knew) liked Shaun Cassidy, so I had to like Parker Stevenson. Well, that and he was more my type, just as Harrison Ford was more my type than Mark Hamill. But you are absolutely right about the universal appeal of STAR WARS. I wore my hair to school once in two coiled buns on either side of my head, just like Princess Leia -- and one of the reasons I did it was so that I could join in playing "Attack the Death Star" with practically all the other kids in the schoolyard, who otherwise would choose some other girl to be Leia and leave me out.

But I also went through a phase where I thought it made me cool not to be "girly like those other girls" who were into makeup and shopping, and that hanging out in my brothers' comic book store made me an "honorary boy" and that was something special. Part of it was a reaction against the girls who were cruel to me in school for not having the right clothes or styling my hair the way they did; part of it was my determination not to fulfill my middle brother's sarcastic prophecy that as soon as I hit thirteen I'd "go boy-crazy just like all the other girls"; part of it was the simple fact that I had three older brothers and no sisters so fitting in with "the guys" was pretty much essential if I wanted to be included in anything they did. But I look back on it now and realize that I was snobbishly despising people I didn't even know, people who had done me no harm, simply because of some stereotypical idea that their interests were inferior by virtue of being "girly". And that a lot of it was pure sour grapes, a way of making myself feel better for not fitting in.

So yes, to all of this. And I wish these Special Snowflakes who think they're superior for "not being like other girls" would realize just how judgmental and immature they're really being.
I preferred Shaun Cassidy (he's even name-checked in BALTHAZAR), but I never saw it as an either/or situation. The Hardy Boys came as a set, after all.
Are you kidding me???? I loved Star Wars so much that when I was busily having a head-on car crash, smashing through the underbrush on the side of the road after being hit, I thought -- and I swear by all things holy I am not making this up -- Wow, this is what it was like when Luke crashed on Dagobah.

So yeah. So much with the epic fail. And so much with the epic win post. You rock. I'm going to cross post this one.

Thanks so much.
OK, you may be the biggest Star Wars fan of all time with that one.
When I was very small, I remember being taken to a toy shop and getting to choose between a colouring book and a Princess Leia action figure. There was no contest: it was Princess Leia all the way. I'm pretty sure my first ever aspiration in life was to grow up to be a blaster-wielding alien princess.

ITA with all of this, btw.
But what if it had been a Princess Leia coloring book?
*applauds*

Star Wars transcends gender stereotypes because it's just that awesome. And so are you, for making this post. Most gender stereotypes are just that--stereotypes. And completely and totally false.

For the record: Team Han.
So glad you liked! And, given that we've all seen ROTJ, I think Team Han wins by default, right?
Bless this post.

I've actually been really heartened on Tumblr to see the takedowns of the "other girls" construct. My very very favorite is the Creamsicle fandom born from this iteration.
Glad you liked! :D
I still have my Millennium Falcon. I also own every expanded universe book both in and out of print thus far. I wanted to be an x-wing pilot and my R2D2 underoos had to be forcibly removed from me. My mother even gave in and bought me the screaming red Return of the Jedi bedroom set, curtains, bedspread, and all. I wear heels and converse, nerdy tees and fluffy skirts. I twirl in dressies and cuss like a sailor. I am a gorram girl and I refuse to believe I should be one side or another. Thanks for this. We all need to hear it.
It sounds like you don't need to hear it -- you're living it the way it should be lived!
bravo.
Thanks!
More Star Wars novels written by women (and there are lots, as of course YOU know...) would be fantastic.
That would be fun. I admit, I'm still trying to cope with THE COURTSHIP OF PRINCESS LEIA.
Because we’re all individuals – we’re all big enough to contain multiple enthusiasm, multiple ways of life. Everyone. And, as I said above, everyone includes girls.

AMEN! Thank you for this great post!

Incidentally, I like heels and converse. XD
Glad you liked!
At 50+ I can look back and see that I was not as wierd as I thought I was, or let others convince me I was, because I liked things girls weren't supposed to like. I just hadn't figured out how to find my people. The internet is a wonderful thing.
Yes, the single best thing about the internet is that it has the power to show us we're not alone.
Great post @(`..`)@ = Princess Leia. I was beyond girlhood in '77, but the fervor was real enough for the 9 a.m. Sunday extra showings in my town and my friends, male and female, loved the movie. I was the only one to go back the next day to see it again, though. Still love it!
The 9 a.m. Sunday showings. Yes. Like chocolate and oxygen combined.
I am a girl and I would have been on Team Han all the way! I even had the action figures!
:D I was definitely on Team Han. I mean, I liked Luke and everything, but, come on.
THANK YOU.
I've seen this post linked on my f-list and just wanted to let you know it's made of so much win. Being a girl predisposes you to nothing when it comes to taste, society does.
Well said. I've known girls who fit nicely in the "girl" box as defined by the media and girls who are nothing like that - but there are a hell of a lot more out there who like standing in that box occasionally, when they feel like it, but feel no need to live there. I like gaming and swordfighting and knitting and afternoon tea. I refuse to wear skirts or dresses unless absolutely necessary but I love jewellery and I quite like playing with makeup - I certainly own a ton of it. This right here:

There are as many ways to be “girly” as there are girls in this world
.

is pure awesome and I need to quote it at everyone who thinks that cookie-cutter femininity is the only way for girls to be. (Hi Dad!)