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In Defense of Solipsistic Teenage Girls

Warning: Rant Ahead

This is weird, but I'm obsessed with reading reviews of movies I haven't seen and have no plans to see. So every week I'll go on Rotten Tomatoes* and check out the ratings for recent films, just for the entertainment factor (in other words, my life is extremely exciting). Recently I stumbled upon a review that rubbed me the wrong way. It was a short review of the movie adaption of YA novel HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff. The reviewer hated the movie, but that wasn't my issue. Here's the sentence that got to me:
Just because virtually any story can be told through the eyes of a solipsistic teen girl doesn’t mean that it should be.
Is this just one sentence in one tiny review? Yes. Did it still annoy me? Yes. Because the thing is, this isn't a new idea. Teenage girl hate is all the rage these days. It's true that teenage girls (*cough*teenage me*cough*) can be selfish. And short-sighted. And ungrateful. And unthinking in their interactions with others. And even - gasp - the whole package - solipsistic.

But lemme just lay out some points. Dear Mr. Whatsyourface (and everyone drinking the teenage girl haterade):

1. After 2,034,012 years of stories being told from the point of view of adult men who constantly think about themselves, I think it's okay if we focus on stories from the point of view of teenage girls who constantly think about themselves. 

1a. Oh wait, adult men thinking about themselves is still the subject of a *~DISPROPORTIONATELY LARGE~* fraction of stories (especially *~respected~* stories)? Yup.

2. What do you mean by "just because every story…" anyway? This seems to imply that you think you are drowning in a huge, unbearable wave of solipsistic teenage girl stories right now. But UM, NO. See 1a. Also, how do you think I feel about 1a?

3. These stories about solipsistic teenage girls aren't coming out of nowhere for no reason. There are girls who REALLY relate to these stories and the main character's points of view. They are not perfect uncomplaining respectful perfect girls, nor are they even a sassy-and-smart-yet-totally-likeable. They are actually unlikeable sometimes. And that's okay. And they deserve to have their stories told anyway.

4. So you're upset because one harmlessly popular genre is getting priority over some other genre that you would seemingly prefer? Who's solipsistic now, poser? (This isn't actually a very good point, but I wanted to call the guy a poser so here you go.)

And last but not least...

5. OH HEY GUESS WHAT MAYBE TEENAGE GIRLS ARE PRETTY AWESOME DESPITE THEIR FLAWS AND YOU JUST DON'T GET HOW AWESOME THEY ARE AND HOW THEY TOTALLY DESERVE TO HAVE THEIR STORIES TOLD OK WHATEVER. :)

So remember, everybody: just because every story can be told through the eyes of an (almost always white, straight, able-bodied, cisgender) adult man doesn't mean it should be. That is all.

What are your thoughts? Is teenage girl hate a problem? Am I overreacting? Are you awesome? (Suggested answers: yes, possibly, yes)

*Rotten Tomatoes paid me generously to mention it in this blog post! ...NOPE. I wish.
Emilia Plater

Emilia is a YA author who avoids studying, food that isn't covered in cheese, and waking up before 10:30AM whenever possible. A bundle of confusions.

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5 comments:

  1. Bravo. I am neither a teenager or a girl (though I was a teenager once...but have never been a girl), and I find stories from a girl's POV wonderful and enlightening. Though I didn't like How I Live Now because of Rosoff's writing style, I loved the concept.

    I think having a broad range of books with diverse narrators from all genders, classes, races, and points of view can only make us more enlightened.

    ReplyDelete
  2. YES and thank you for this post. Especially to points 1 and 1a. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think we're awesome. I'm so tired of the stupid cliches people throw around about teenagers in general. We're not idiots, we're people. & everybody has different tastes. I thought everyone realized that already. Sigh.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    ReplyDelete
  4. The writer of the review probably hadn't considered the sexist implications of their words. Rather, they were expressing a knee-jerk reaction to a fad. Yes, a fad. Entertainment and media is all about fads that are here-today, gone-tomorrow. It can be anything. It just happens to be teen girls for the moment.

    If it were the early 1990s, you could replace "teen girl" with "white college guys."

    So the next time you see someone raging about teen girls, consider the person didn't mean it in a sexist way. They aren't hating on your XX chromosomes, but doing a poor job of expressing their dislike for a current fad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And yet, it's possible to express dislike for a fad without denigrating young people, or female personalities, or writers who create space for their voices. Perhaps reviewers mean what they say.

      Delete

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Item Reviewed: In Defense of Solipsistic Teenage Girls Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Emilia Plater