The Girl Power Myth

The Girl Power Myth

About 7 years ago, I was heading out to lunch with 2 of my coworker friends when the conversation turned to popular music.

As we climbed into my friend’s car she said, “You know, the Pussycat Dolls are just like the Spice Girls.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I practically smacked her over the head with my purse. “Pussycat Dolls are NOTHING like the Spice Girls!”

My friends exchanged a look between them, probably wondering if I was going to go off on one of my rants.

I was.

I fell in love with the Spice Girls in high school, and my friends assigned each other “spice” names based on our personalities (I was Baby Spice). I had all their CDs, unauthorized biographies, TV specials, their hilariously awful movie Spice World, and everything.

I even went to their reunion concert in 2007, and I loved seeing them perform for the London Olympics last year. They’ll always be a part of me, even though I still have no idea what “zig-a-zig-ah!” means.

By the time we pulled into the parking lot of the local pita place, I had gone over all the reasons why the girl group the Pussycat Dolls from the mid 2000s was nothing like the girl group the Spice Girls from the mid 1990s.

The biggest reason, of course, was that the Spice Girls promoted sisterly bonding, or “Girl Power.” Pussycat Dolls were all about competition and outdoing each other (usually in very little clothing).

Unlike the Pussycat Dolls, the Spice Girls had no lead singer, and their whole shtick was equality among girlfriends.

And as for the men in their lives, the Pussycat Dolls reveled in cattiness by singing, “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” while the Spice Girls put friends first by singing, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.”

It’s the difference between building up women with positivity…or cruelly cutting them down out of jealousy.

“I just meant they were sexy lady singers,” my friend rolled her eyes at me and focused her attention on the menu.

I don’t know why the idea of how women treat each other gets me so riled up. Maybe it’s because I’ve been burned by so-called friends in the past and every day I see women judging and backstabbing each other.

As a naïve (and virginal) 16-year-old, I honestly believed that women could support each other to make our lives more beautiful and happy. I noticed things started to change once dating and sex crept into our consciousness.

Then it became all about one-upping each other: who was prettier, who was more successful, who had the best car/house/job/partner.

And while many women in my life were outwardly friendly, their loyalty could turn on a dime…and I’d often be left wondering what went wrong.

So, does girl power exist? Or is it imaginary like unicorns and fairy godmothers?

I still believe in girl power, but as of this writing, I have no close girlfriends. No one to invite over for pizza and a chick flick. No one who’ll troll the aisles at Target with me for hours on end.

No one.

We finished our falafel sandwiches and dumped our trash in the bin.

“The Spice Girls were a manufactured group too,” said my friend, who incidentally stopped being my friend 3 months later. “They weren’t really friends.”

Yeah, I knew that too…but it felt real.

Do you believe in girl power?

Do you think women can support each other without jealousy?

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  1. Bethie the Boo on April 29, 2013 at 11:11 am

    This very subject drives my husband crazy – he always says to me “I don’t know why you girls work so hard to tear each other down instead of building each other up” when my friends are getting me down. He’s right, we should be empowering each other, not competing and not being jealous! It doesn’t mean it’s easy though!

    And for what it’s worth, I think you’re awesome and if you lived in my city, I’d come over and have a pizza and chick flick night with you!

    • Sage Grayson on April 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      Oh, thank you so much, Beth! I’d totally invite you over for pizza and a cheesy movie…that is, if we didn’t live thousands of miles apart! 🙁 I wish I had better experiences with female friends, but they so often end up ruined in fits of jealous.

  2. Emily_Joyce on January 25, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    I believe that supportive, honest, truthful friendships between women still exist. It’s hard though. My biggest struggle over the last two years has been loneliness. I’m introverted, so I only need one or two good friends, but it’s scary to put yourself out there and risk rejection. Right now, my friends are 10 and 20 years older than I am and have kids and jobs, so coffee and Target shopping isn’t an option. Going over for dinner and a movie at home are, and occasional dinners out. I take what I can get! I can’t imagine how tough being an extrovert and not having girl friends to hang out with would be. From what I know of you as an online friend, you’re a brave, supportive, loyal person, so I’m confident that you will find good friends again.

    • Sage Grayson on January 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks so much, Emily. You’ve been a good online friend to me too. 🙂 We moved across the country a year and a half ago, and that contributed to me losing some friends. Working from home can be isolating too. It’s weird because I would LOVE to host parties and have people over all the time. Now I just have to be brave and make some friends.

  3. Ashley | Domestic Fashionista on January 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I love this! I am a bit of an idealist so I am all about girl power! There are definitely rough patches and hurt feelings I have had to work through but working through it all has proven to offer me some great girlfriends.

    • Sage Grayson on January 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      Thanks, Ashley! I still believe in girl power. I just need to get out there and make some new friends.

  4. xvavaveganx on January 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Sage, I LOVE this post! I agree with you 100% first of all. Also, a few years ago I noticed a pattern that my “best friends” that I cycled through over the past 20 years of my life had one thing in common: competition. I have never bought into the competition and I only noticed it once it was too late and we weren’t friends anymore that they actually made me feel like crap about myself so they could make themselves feel better. Once I finally figured it out I’ve been a lot more perceptive of it and have chosen my friends wisely. I have an amazing circle of friends that are encouraging and amazing and I feel so incredibly lucky to have them in my life!

    • Sage Grayson on January 24, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      I’m so glad you have close friends! It’s really important to have people who “get” you and will be there for you. I’m still working on it.

  5. Molly on January 24, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    I have mixed feelings about girl power. On the one hand, I’m an idealist and think that it’s a perfect thing that should exist. On the other hand is reality, which hasn’t exactly proven that to me. Like you, I have no close girlfriends and at this point, I find myself pushing people away more. I’ve been burned so many times by other women that it’s exhausting to me just to think about having a close friendship again. I’m very introverted & embrace that, so the closeness Mike and I have is enough for me. Maybe someday I’ll open myself up more, though. It seems as though women grow out of that competition somewhat as they grow older. At least I hope they do….

    • Sage Grayson on January 24, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      It’s been my experience that women often resort to undermining each other. When I had friends, I’d always be shocked when the rug was pulled out from under me. Maybe I shouldn’t have been shocked because it happened so often?

      As an extrovert (I’m energized by being around people), my heart aches for friends. I love my husband, but I need friends who like the same things as me (scrapbooking, reading, shopping).

      • Molly on January 24, 2013 at 5:08 pm

        Well, you certainly seem like a wonderful person to me, Sage, and that you would make a terrific friend! I hope that you can find a few people near you who can be true friends.

        I was always shocked when the rug was pulled under me, too, even the last time which was only a year ago. Like you, I found myself asking if maybe I shouldn’t have been shocked.

        • Sage Grayson on January 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm

          Oh, Molly. If only we lived in the same town. 🙂

          I’ve joined a few Meetup groups to try to make some friends, and now that I’m going to temple every week, I’ve met some people on the same spiritual wavelength. We’ll see!

  6. on January 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I do believe in girl power! I have had friends that i always seem to have to work really hard for them to like me and it was exhausting. Now i try and spend time with friends i can truely be myself and support me in all aspects of life. I hope you find that too sage, you seem to have such an uplifting, fun personality!

    • Sage Grayson on January 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Aw, thanks! I need to get out more and meet like-minded people. It’s hard because I’m had some really competitive, jealous “friends” in the past.