In between the cries of ‘kill the whore!’ which flooded the Guardian comments section on a recent piece about Kim Kardashian, sounding uncomfortably like an internal monologue by Peter Sutcliffe, there was a sliver of more digestible indignation about the woman the masses love to hate.
A lone troll threw out the usual ‘I blame the parents’ argument. It suggested that letting their little girls gorge on the Kardashian way of life had turned them into eye-rolling, gum-snapping, demanding consumerist monsters that clogged up cyberspace with their every whim. Cyberspace is actually clogged up by deranged lonely bedroom boys, if every comments section ever is anything to go by, but the troll struck a sad chord inside me. It wasn’t only the usual legion of furiously wanking psychos that had graffitied the internet with their bile, it was girls. Young girls, high on hate.
The ferocity of feelings possessed by teenage girls can be a wonderful thing. The passion could power nations – the release of it into one giant, uncontrollable scream could surely be heard in space – but sadly, they are now channeling this intensity into raw, unadulterated hate. A flame to which the internet is fuel.
A hormonal stew has spilled over and burst into bilious rage seeping across all social networks. Armies of preened princesses who no longer have female idols, but instead hate figures to rage against. To bully and destroy whilst cosseting their male idols in a web of cooing tweets and scathing put-downs to anyone silly enough to slightly challenge them.
Of course young girls can be ridiculously deluded about whatever charm-bucket they set their intensely love stricken brain on – from the early days of ‘no woman is good enough to marry a Beatle’ filtering right down to the almost relentless punishing of Billie Piper because she got to do in- the- dark dancing with Ritchie from 5ive (shudder) – but at least in some other pockets of music and film there seemed to be a genuine love or some support for women. Girls that truly admired other girls, whether it be squealing along to the Spice Girls, having an Elastica picture as well as a Blur one on your homework notebook, or cutting your hair to become the Winona Ryder Johnny loved; there was some equality and calm in the hormonal cesspit.
Now with the opportunity to publicly express kneejerk reactions on Twitter and the hordes of intense tribes proclaiming their undying love for artists hourly, there are clear demarcation lines. There is only us and them and it’s the ‘them’ that seems to be, peculiarly, female.
Think of poor Caroline Flack, living up to her unfortunate surname. Flack had to deal with not only the cacophony of cat calling insanity on Twitter, but also the Daily Mail regularly whipping up the teenage blood lust frenzy by constantly and disdainfully commenting on her brief fling with the ball of hair and teeth that is Harry Styles. Finally, months later, a One Direction fan magazine managed to tear her apart piece by piece with a physical run down of her apparent ‘faults’. Nowhere was safe, the ferocious appetite for hate and snark had infected everywhere, and has passed on to every girl that dare touch a perfectly coiffed hair on the head of a One Directioner. A quick glance through a One Direction Twitter time line is like the worst of Mean Girls all mashed together – a sick circus of vileness.
If the crushing of Caroline was mainly a British and Irish sport, imagine the horror of the worldwide destruction of Kristen Stewart. She has become the pop culture version of Hester Pryne, wandering through Hollywood with an ‘A’ scorched on her breast for daring to venture outside the sacred flush of puppy love. A love which is, of course, entwined with the under the cover fantasies of legions of teen girls. A silly young thing savaged in print and on screen, she has become a sacrificial lamb to the Twilight tweens and teens whilst the grubby, married, older director slinks out of sight completely.
Bitterness should not be a trait firmly associated with teenage girls, but in this complex age of eternal anxiety and lack of reassurance they are floundering. They are disappointed and lashing out. They are furious at life for not being fast enough and not giving them what they think they deserve and it’s boiling down to demanding, exhausting anger.
It is something that cannot be blamed solely on the Kardashian ‘klan’ splashing their cash or Nicki Minaj’s relentless boasting, or Alexa Chung’s thinness. It can’t be solved by a ‘Love Yourself’ song by Beyonce or Gaga or a flash of Harry Style’s straight white teeth. It needs to start with respect. They trash talk because it’s acceptable. It’s acceptable to treat these women as useless commodities because that’s what they are presented as. Empty objects to be endlessly judged.
Visible respect for women in the media and respect for women online is the only way to crawl out of this depressing state. Unless casual anonymous online comments by grown adults stop resembling the inner workings of women-hating serial killers, what hope do we have for the daughters we are raising in a culture that not just facilitates the bashing of high profile women but declares it perfectly okay?
Originally published on fanny.ie