The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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The sexism behind ‘girl math’

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Maisie Derlega

Girl Math, Girl Dinner, Girl Calories, Girl Showers. A new trend has spread throughout social media that entails taking any concept and putting the word “girl” in front of it to show how girls and women see or do these things. 

“Girl Math” goes something like this: if you buy something and return it, you’ve gained money through returning it. “Girl calories” means that if you eat a salad on the side of your tacos, you are eating healthy. At first glance, these views alone may not seem particularly harmful. After all, it is mainly used by women themselves, (and some indie, mustachey, flannel-wearing men with podcasts), however, when one dives any deeper into the concept, its misogyny becomes painfully transparent. 

The clear issue here is that when the word “girl” is used in this context, it is a synonym for “stupid” or “thoughtless person”. Look at some of the previous examples, but changing the word girl with “dumb person.” “Dumb person calories” means that if you eat a salad on the side of your tacos, you are eating healthy. “Dumb person Math” means if you buy something and return it, you’ve gained money through returning it. Still works. 

All of these normal concepts, when seen from a girl’s perspective, are being simplified or unintelligently skewed. It is somewhat of a joke, but the joke is not making fun of sexists who genuinely believe in this. Rather it is yet another trend simply existing to make fools out of women and portray them as inferior to men. 

Through these seemingly funny, 15-second videos, the idea that “women = stupid” is once again planted into our brains, even if it isn’t intentional. When women on social media make these “jokes”, it is not usually their intention to shed a negative light on women, but misogynistic stereotypes are so deeply engraved into our minds that it is hard to notice the problems with these concepts. 

This is not a new phenomenon, but merely a new form of the “blonde girl cliche” or the women in STEM stereotype; it is simply more hidden. Women are constantly being portrayed as less smart than men, and their power is often diminished. When this happens to any group of people, hate discrimination, and dehumanization, always appear. When people fear those who are different from them, harmful stereotypes form, and though it may be hard to recognize them, that is just what these trends are. Harmful stereotypes. 

I recently came across a TikTok captioned “Girl Math: Explaining Theory of Space and Time”. The creator of the video proceeded to explain advanced physics using a hairband. In terms of simplifying or  “dumbing down” science, I’m sure that the video could be helpful. However, the video was not labeled “in simple terms”, but instead in “girl terms”. It is outrageous that females are viewed as such simple and stupid people, even by themselves (as the creator of the video was a woman). The TikTok might as well have been titled “Easy tutorial for girls who can’t understand real science like boys do”. 

The stereotype that women are stupid runs deeper than imaginable, and has been prominent throughout history. How will we move on from the oppression, stereotypes, and ignorance of our society? With countless women’s rights movements, as well as the growth of women in politics, academics, and STEM, these jokes become comical in themself. If equal rights for women progress, maybe then in 50 years we will hear about “boy math” and how they can’t understand things like “the rest of us.”

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About the Contributor
Maisie Derlega, Director of Art and Design
Maisie is one of the lovely Directors of Art and Design <3 Once a month she and the other members of the visual team lock themselves in a windowless room to make the Beacon look as beautiful as possible. She is super cool and creative and obviously the best ever. She enjoys rock climbing and of course art, she also can often be seen ordering a very large iced chai latte.   
  • 2021-22: Layout Editor
  • 2022-24: Director of Art and Design
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