There is such a thing as prejudice within the movement toward social justice. I always think about the former president of the National Organization for Women, Betty Friedan, and her comments regarding lesbians as the “lavender menace.” Later, this term was radically reclaimed by members of the Gay Liberation Front. Eve Ensler still screams, “cunt,” while Dave Chappelle has dressed up as both Kunta Kinte and a Klansman. There is a difference between prejudice and making a mockery of prescribed societal norms. Graydon Sheppard and Kyle Humphrey’s meme, Shit Girls Say, is a clear statement regarding the absurdity of the gender normative.
The accusations that Shit Girls Say is misogynist, sexist, or derogatory defy the conversation that began this project. Sheppard said in an interview with A.V. Club Toronto:
We were sitting around one day watching TV, and one of us said, “Can you pass me that blanket?” It immediately struck us as a “girl” thing to say. I know that sounds terrible. But we immediately started thinking about what that means, to have a saying attributed to a sex, and then we started going back and forth.
Here is the wild card, Sheppard and Humphrey are both men who deviate from their own gender norms. They find the hilarity in having “a saying attributed to sex.” Sheppard admits, “I’ve done drag. It’s fun. I identify with the female side; that’s all there. It’s a caricature, of course. It’s parody.” Shit Girls Say is not perpetuating a stereotype, but breaking it with the use of drag and the cameo appearance by Juliette Lewis.
In a 2008 interview with the UK Guardian, Lewis proclaims herself, “a man loving feminist.” A powerhouse on the screen or on stage with her band Juliette and the Licks, Lewis defies the rules of femininity. She is loud spoken and unapologetic for her voice. Years before Shit Girls Say was even an idea, Lewis affirmed, “I want girls to start thinking about what they have to say, what do they have to contribute to their families, to other people, to society?”
Shit Girls Say has restarted an important conversation in a time when some folks think that feminism is unnecessary or dead. The glass ceiling still exists, and gender is still a taught construct. Perhaps unintentional, but this meme is politically potent, thought provoking, and has started other conversations on stereotypes through all of the response memes that have popped up across the web. Also, it is pretty damn funny.