Ariana Grande was recently called “not a girl’s girl” by Lily Jay, the estranged wife of her Wicked co-star Ethan Slater, after finding herself caught in the middle of their messy breakup. But what is a girl’s girl or a woman’s woman? What is it about some women that rubs other women up the wrong way? And is it just jealousy?
This week we’re diving into the current backlash towards Ariana, and the ongoing accusations that Megan Fox doesn’t appeal to women. We’re going to be breaking down the terms thrown at women such as homewrecker, man-eater, mean girl, temptress and pick me girl. And looking at why some women are disliked by the sisterhood. Is it because they are too beautiful, too sexy, or because they can’t be trusted? And how does this show up in the workplace?
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Lisa and Sarah
Ariana Grande has found herself entangled in the middle of her co-star Ethan Slater's divorce amid rumours that they're dating. His estranged wife has slammed her as ‘not a girl's girl’.
Similarly, Megan Fox has often elicited a negative response from other women and believes it has to do with her looks. As Pantene said in the 80s - Don't hate me because I'm beautiful!
Much debate has always existed about what makes a woman's woman versus a man's woman. So we want to know what makes someone a woman's woman or a girl's girl? Why do some women seem to be disliked by other women? And is it as some people suggest really just jealousy?
Let's go straight to the comments.
So I grew up watching Friends in the 90s.
I mean, come on, who did it?
I know that's all we did. We just stayed in on a Friday night for the new episode.
And at that time, I'm sure everyone will remember, everyone wanted to be Rachel. Women all over the world, they were just running to the hairdresser's to try and get that Rachel cut. I don't know if you remember that?
Yeah, I do remember going to get the haircut in Egham High Street. I remember asking for the Rachel and I just thought I looked the bee's knees when I walked out. And what was interesting is recently my hairdresser said that it was making a comeback.
Wow, that's retro.
I mean, it never would have worked for me. I couldn't have even, you know, thought about it, because I'm stuck, or as some people may say blessed, with Shirley Temple style curls. My hair does not do high fashion, and it has a mind of its fucking own.
Sarah, you've got those lovely sort of ringlet curls that, which like, you know, we were all trying to recreate with Carrie Bradshaw, like in the early 2000s.
Well, the Renaissance period,
I should have been a teenager in the 80s, because I would have cleaned up.
But oh, yes, yes. Yes.
Yeah. You know, and, and the Rachel that everyone was trying to be, she was the quintessential popular girl.
Yes, she was.
But she was also portrayed as not really a woman's woman. And I remember an episode where she said, “Oh, that's okay. Girls tend not to like me.” And that really jumped out at me. And it felt like there was an implication that the girls didn't like her because they were actually jealous of her. You know?
I totally remember that. And I went on to read it. And I saw a post that said, “Rachel “girls tend not to like me” Greene. Also, Rachel - is rude to Julie constantly because she's dating Ross. She dates Jean Claude Van Damme when Monica liked him after going over there to set her up. She also crashes Emily's wedding to confess her love for the groom. But probably in her head - It's all because I'm pretty and popular.”
Yeah, I saw that post and I thought it was quite good. And I think one of my favourite comments on thread was “my two greatest enemies, Rachel Green, and complex carbohydrates”. Which was something Brad Pitt's guest character said, when he appeared on the show and was her arch nemesis. Yeah, so that was a good one.
But actually Rachel's not the only one. I mean, I feel like there's quite a few characters that are actresses who seem to be placed in the role of - oh other women don't really like them. Or maybe even they can't be trusted by other women. But this idea of a woman's woman or a man's woman has actually been around for a while. And we need to go more into the definition of this.
Yeah, you know, what was really interesting when I was doing the research, there was an 1891 volume of Current Literature, where an editor wrote, “there are certain questions that reappear at more or less irregular intervals. Of these queries, none are more persistent and aggressive than that which concerns the difference between a man's woman and a woman's woman, and none have from the woman's point of view, being more weakly or illogically argued.” So as Autumn Whitefield-Madrano says in the New Inquiry, “even in those 90s the question was a stumper.”
And the reason we're doing this episode is because it's all kind of come to a kind of crescendo with the whole thing around Ariana Grande's marriage breakup and rumoured romance with her married co-star Ethan Slater. Slater estranged wife, Lily Jay, who has an 11 month old son was quoted by Page Six as saying, “Ariana is the story really. Not a girl's girl. My family is just collateral damage”. And it seems like some of the commentators agree. There was this one comment that said, “Ariana is JLo 2.0. She falls in love with whatever guy is in front of her for more than two days with no thought about the fallout for other people. This guy will be history before the ink is dry on his divorce papers. She has a bad case of Diva Entitlement Syndrome.”
So let's just give a little bit of background to anyone who doesn't know. I'm sure everyone knows who Ariana Grande is. She's a megastar pop singer. She's basically this generation’s or the current generation’s version of Mariah Carey, who I grew up with. One of the first albums I ever got. You know, she also started out doing some acting on those teen Nickelodeon TV shows. And recently she's been cast as Glinda in the movie version of Wicked, and I think a lot of people are looking forward to that movie coming out. She has previously made headlines for really high profile romances such as, she had a whirlwind engagement to Pete Davidson in 2018, before he started dating everybody. And she's been married to real estate agent Dalton Gomez since May 2021. But just last month, rumours started to spread that they weren't together anymore. And in fact, had actually been separated from January because she appeared ringless at Wimbledon, which is always the thing that they look for, isn't it? Are you wearing your ring? And you couldn’t just have forgotten it. And this was followed up by the classic move of wiping almost all trace of her now ex from her Instagram.
But she has been sort of in the public eye a lot the last few years, but actually, a lot of it is because of some tragic, tragic incidents, such as the losing of her ex boyfriend, Mac Miller to an accidental drug overdose four months after their breakup in 2018. And then, of course, there was the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, which happened just after her concert, which killed 22 people and injured 1017. And afterwards, Ariana was diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety as a result.
Yeah. I really remember that well, because my sister lives in Manchester. And so I remember hearing about it and worrying about her. I knew my sister wasn't going to that concert, but you worry any of, you know, you worry anyway. And um, I always think of Manchester as just full of some of the loveliest people and they really came together after that event, but it was so horrifying. It was one of the worst in quite a long time.
I mean, she was only 24 when it happened. And I was watching, in research for this episode, one of her performances at the One Love Manchester benefit concert that she did. And one of the comments under the video on YouTube was, “she showed the world what an immense strength of character she has. She was carrying this burden of knowing the people killed and injured were there because of her. Can't even begin to comprehend how tough that was on her. I have nothing but admiration and respect for this remarkable young woman.”
Yeah, so she, I mean, she's been through a lot for someone her age.
Yes, she has. And I think where Ariana finds herself right now, she, up to now she's had a lot of support and goodwill and I mean an immense amount of success. She is one of the most streamed artists in the world. She has won countless awards. She has one of the biggest followings on social media. And she's amassed a huge fortune, a reported $240 million. I would say she's one of the most influential pop culture icons at the moment,
Indeed, and she's got the most amazing range for a singer. But, you know, this all has taken a bit of a turn in the last few months with these rumours because she was linked to her co-star on the film Wicked, Ethan Slater. And what made it an even bigger story is that Slater is also married and he’d only just had a baby with his wife last August.
Yes. And I read this comment on YouTube, underneath her video for Breakup with your Girlfriend, I'm bored. And it said, and it was the most trending comment underneath it said, “divorce your wife and leave your newborn, I’m bored”. It was sort of sharp, but it's kind of like I think where the sentiment, what the public sentiment is right now towards her.
Yeah, and like any of the sort of celebrity breakups and the sort of announcements. So Entertainment Weekend and various sources, they very carefully stressed that “they didn't start dating until both broken up with their significant others. Ariana and Dalton remain friends”. But despite, you know, what's been put out, a lot of people are really sceptical about the timeline. So there are a couple of comments, one was “Homewrecker alert”. Another, “we all know that he cheated on his wife and they were not separated. AG is a disgusting homewrecker. She has done this before and will do it again”. So people aren't really buying that at the moment.
And can I just say that every time there's a celebrity breakup, they always state that they can remain friends. But I often wonder, How much does that really happen? And why do you think it's so important that they put out that message?
Yeah, it's like, it's always amicable. It's weird, because even if you're, even if you got a break-up where it's mutual, and nothing particularly bad happened. There's always going to be hurt and painful feelings. And I mean, if I think of myself, I've only got one ex who is a really good friend, but I don't talk to any of the others. And I don't really want to. You know, it's just, I think when those things are posted, everyone's like, I'm not buying that at all. That's clearly PR spin.
It is. And I think, for me, I'm just that school of thought knowing you can't be friends with your ex, you need to just have a clean break and move on. And I often think that the breakups that are really messy is because you're going back and forth, back and forward, trying to stay in each other's lives, even trying to follow each other on Instagram still. I'm often like, amazed at that, like, yeah, it's a bit of a sad thing and maybe the Mail Online, I think this is part of their business now is looking to see who's unfollowed each other. Ooh does Kate Bosworth still follow her ex-husband? Does he follow her? I mean, that's really. I got to read more books, Sarah. I used to be into reading books not looking at who’s unfollowed each other on Instagram.
It's yeah, people like to ascribe a lot of meaning to something, you know, relatively insignificant.
You know, what's really interesting is this, this idea of a homewrecker, which is pretty much only ever used in relation to a woman.
Yes, that's a good point actually.
You don't hear them going - He's such a homewrecker.
I think Brande Victorian, she summed this up on Madame Noire saying, “Have you ever noticed a man who sleeps with a married woman is never called a homewrecker. It's a term reserved specifically for either crazy stalker women, or women who sleep with married men, or some combination of the two. For men, this is a convenient excuse that falls in line with the already tainted assumption that men can't control their sexual urges and have to do what's natural. Therefore, if some Homewrecker comes along with a tempting figure and a down for anything mentality, it's almost as if he had no control over the situation and was completely helpless against the temptress’s feminine wiles”. So, you know, what she's essentially saying is, it becomes the women's responsibility for making sure that men don't cheat, even if they weren't in a relationship with them.
Yeah, and I mean, that's really the whole thing with Femme Fatale. You know so I’m thinking of Glenn Close gets all the blame as Alex in Fatal Attraction. And if, I don't if anyone remembers this film, but you know, Demi Moore places incredible maneater / harasser in Disclosure from the 90s.
Yeah, amazing film.
And the idea is that men don't have agency or it's Michael Douglas doesn't have any agency over himself…
He couldn’t help it!
He just has to, she just has to…
She overpowered him.
And a lot of people have been pointing this out in the comments. So for example, on Page Six one of the comments was “I'm not a fan of Ariana, however she did not take him from Lily Jay. He went voluntarily”. Another one. “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, please don't take him just because you can. However, he's the married one. He's a big boy and made his own choice. Blame him”. And finally, a comment that says “Ariana is only responsible for what she did in her marriage. SpongeBob is the one who exchanged vows with his wife. He's the one who was…”
Hold on. Sorry, who’s SpongeBob?
So Sponge, he played SpongeBob on Broadway. So that's why they're referring to him as SpongeBob because he he did play Spongebob Squarepants on a Broadway thing. So a lot of people are calling him SpongeBob
Okay. I didn't know that about him. Carry on, sorry.
So basically it says “SpongeBob is the one who exchanged vows with his wife. He's the one who was unfaithful and lying. I don't know why folks always want to place the majority of the responsibility on the other woman. Again, if Ariana was cheating on her husband, then she has to own that, she exchanged vows with him”. I think it's I do think they've got quite a point with this aspect of it, for sure.
But this, but this really bothers me. Why do people tend to blame the other woman more than the man who, you know, he's the one in the relationship? Is it really just because we think men are powerless over their sex drive? Going back to our Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie episode that we did.
Yeah, yeah. Everyone's powerless to Angelina Jolie. Women as well.
I mean, I think that is definitely one aspect that's there, whether people are conscious of it or not. But I think there's another reason and that it's definitely emotionally easier. If you still love your partner, you might not really want to blame them fully, because you might want to eventually get back to, back with them also. So in a piece for Time, relationship psychologist, Brandy Engler, she noted that “society's tendency to blame the person who your partner's cheated with, rather than your partner, can be because it's easier to turn to rage and a desire to attack another person than it is to deal with shame”. And what she means by that, in terms of the shame is, I suppose if someone rejects you, the first thing that we all go to is, what's wrong with me? Why was I not enough? I must be rubbish. You know, it's, that's that whole classic rejection thing. It's always about, there's something wrong with others, not the other person. And Engler goes on to say, “also, if the public narrative is to put the burden of blame on men that would make us feel hopeless and sad about men. But if we can villainize one woman, we still have reason to hope, and it provides a collective discharge of angst about our fears of betrayal.”
But it does remind me of our section where we talked about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in our episode, celebrity about celebrity breakups about the idea of the Temptress stereotype, similar to the Femme Fatale is just one way of splitting women into sort of good or bad, virtuous or whore. But when Ariana is referred to not a girl's girl, is that just what we're talking about?
Not entirely because I think there, I think there are different versions of not a girl's girl or a woman's woman. So, you know, at the very basic level, you can talk about women who just prefer the company of men to women. I mean, when we were growing up, people just refer to them as ‘tomboys’. And sometimes it was entirely situational. So, in my sister's class growing up in Australia, there weren't many girls in her year. So her best friend was a boy, but it wasn't because she didn't like being friends with girls. It was just that there were more boys, you know, and that’s who she became friends with. There's also another element of a woman who specifically courts the validation of men. So Autumn Whitefield-Mandrano describes one type of a man's woman as “maybe you identify her by the way she sits listlessly among other women. But when a man comes along, she's suddenly able to brighten up and in a moment become brilliant and beautiful.”
That's so well put, I definitely have been in those situations. But I think we've all known a friend or even been the friend who needs the validation of men more than women, especially when we're younger, when we've really bought into the message that our worthiness as a female comes from being seen as attractive.
Absolutely. I think we all have at times, and there are some people who've continued, that is how they still are, they haven't outgrown that. But I think in that quote, about Ariana not being a girl's girl, it's not just that she wants a validation of men, but it's what's implied in that quote is that she, there's a ‘mean girl' element. So it's not just that she's not supportive of other women. But this idea that she may be betraying the sisterhood, that maybe she's deliberately competitive with other women to the point of actively going after other women's men on purpose. So for example, people have suggested that, there was one DM comment that said, “she never goes after single men. Some women love the challenge”.
I've never really understood that. I think I understood innately from a young age not to go after other people's boyfriends or crushes. I don't see that as a challenge just I think being unkind.
And a bit problematic, really problematic.
It's just so stressful as well. I mean, as soon as I know someone's in a relationship, I don't find them attractive anymore. And if anything, if I make a male friend, and I know that they're in a relationship, I go out of my way to be really nice to their partner, and make sure they know that there's no threat there. And that's not just me playing a game, that's me genuinely being like, you don't have to worry about me, seriously. And I automatically put them in a platonic role. But interestingly, some studies have actually found that this isn't true for a lot of people. So there was one study that found, in that study, 90% of the single women they polled were interested in a man who they thought was taken versus only 59%, when they thought he was single.
I don't believe it!
I know! And that single women may poach married men because they enjoy the thrill or they prefer a partner to whom they do not have to be accountable. So I was quite shocked at that, to be honest, when I came across that.
I almost just can't believe that, my jaw dropped. I mean, 90% of single women are more interested…Oh they think he's more desirable, right? If he's in a relationship than if he's, so if he's left on the shelf, it's like, okay, nobody wants that toy. No one wants to pick that one up.
Yeah. So it's interesting. I didn't, I haven't fully dug down into the thing, I think it was that they were interested in a man. Whether they would actively pursue him, it's an entirely different thing. So you might just be more attracted to a man if he's in a relationship, but doesn't mean that you would actually specifically go after him.
And like you said, there is perhaps that subconscious element of as soon as you know something's wanted, it's rare, it's desirable, then it's more desirable to you. So kids with toys. You know, when you're a kid, and you're like, Oh, I'm not interested in that toy anymore. And then your your sister or another kid wants it and you're like, hang on, I really want it back now. It's really appealing. So I’m thinking that there's an element of that there.
Yeah, I think we all know, don't we, there is that..
Yeah as we say, Girl Code. Don’t go there, especially with each other's crushes?
Yeah, look, it's really hard as well, because, you know, I might have a random crush on someone I've never even spoken to. And then it's not like I can put dibs on everyone. So everyone has a different line in their head of what's appropriate. So, you know, like, I might have a huge crush on Greg Davies, but that doesn't mean that if one of my friends actually met him, that I would be angry with her for talking to him. Do you know what I mean? I don't have any claim on him, he doesn’t know who I am. You know, it's like…
But if you know there's someone and they know that you've got like a thing that you're developing with someone at work. And they know there's a vibe and it's kind of reciprocal, and they specifically go in there and deliberately flirt where there was nothing there, rather than you know, I also feel sorry for girls, say, we were just friends and then like I had a crush on a guy but hadn't really told him and then like he came up to my friend and asked her out, then you're like, Oh, this is not really her fault that he fancies her .You know, it's just so messy this thing.
You can’t control
You can't control. And that's the thing you can't control who likes who, but it is just like,
There are certain lines. Yeah.
Yeah. Like, do you value your friend? Are you gonna really do that? Are you going to do your best?
So bringing it back to Ariana, and if she's a girls girl or a man's girl. It seems like she's very clearly marketed to appeal to both. But with the emphasis on girls and young women, particularly teen girls, and when I think of her, she has this really ultra girly image, the high ponytail, and she sort of comes across as someone that you really want to be friends with and hang out, you know, part of her gang. And she often collaborates with other women and speaks openly about feminist issues. So the question is, if this scandal is going to negatively impact this image that she has as a girl's girl, or has it been about the male gaze all along? And is she that girl that will steal your boyfriend?
But Ariana isn't the only one who's been on the receiving end of other women's lack of approval. Another woman who often faces a lot of negative comments as Megan Fox, or as I think of her, Foxy Megan.
Yeah, well, I mean, she was huge when the Transformers films came out. But lately, most of the stories are about her recent tumultuous relationship with Machine Gun Kelly, the rapper. And she's been called out a lot for sexy posts and controversial statements. So for example, to announce their joint GQ cover in 2021 she posted on Instagram the cover photo and then her text was “the tale of two outcasts and star crossed lovers caught in the throes of a torrid solar flare of a romance featuring: feverish obsession, guns, addiction, shamans, lots of blood, general mayhem, therapy, tantric night terrors, binding rituals, chakra sound baths, psychedelic hallucinations, organic smoothies, and the kind of sex that would make Lucifer clutch his rosary.” But can I just say, what kind of Lucifer has his own rosary? Isn’t he supposed to be anti Christian? So I'm just gonna call bullshit on that last one. But yeah.
What is this about organic smoothies? Did she make a typo, orgasmic smoothies, because everything's so sexual. What's tantric night terrors?
I understand all those words separately. I do not understand them all together.
Look Sarah, you know, I'm 46. I'm down with the therapy and the organic stroke orgasmic smoothies, but..
You know, and I will, I will take the chakra sound baths but I'll probably leave the rest. And, you know, what's ironic is, it talks about the tantra night terrors. I once lived in a tantric ashram and I do not know what the fuck that is, so. Yeah, I mean, yeah, I'll just put the rest, I'll put it down and walk away.
But I kind of like it, it’s kind of, she's just, that’s so out there. It’ss kind of the best copy. I mean, I going to have to raise my game for our Instagram. But as far back as I can remember, which was probably 2009, there's a lot of talk of Fox. Let's call her Megan, okay. There's a lot of talk about Megan not being appealing to other women. She just had that kind of aura about her, right?
And at the time, there was Jennifer's Body, that movie that came out with her and Amanda Siegfried, where she essentially played the sort of devil woman sexpot. I mean, she literally was a devil cheerleader who bullies the character that Amanda Siegfried plays.
Yeah, you know, I actually really liked that film. And I was surprised it didn't do as well on release, but post-me too it has actually become more of a feminist cult classic than when it first came out. And there was this post on Reddit that described it as “I feel like it was the ideal role for Megan Fox to take at the time. She experienced pure objectification as an actress in Transformers one and two, being purely a sex symbol, albeit strong woman, for the main character and audience by proxy. In Jennifer's Body, she was allowed to weaponize that view, not just as a means of empowerment, but also as a means of attaching a character to her beauty.”
I remember that movie and it felt a weird mix of a B movie, it didn't feel quite like A list at this time for both Amanda and Megan, and actually it didn't perform very well on the box office to do it. And I think that they blamed it on Megan Fox not being very likeable. And this is only exacerbated when she effectively came out and said women don't like her because she's too beautiful. She told Entertainment Weekly, “I come across as confident and women assume that means that I think I'm hot shit. And that makes them feel bad about themselves. And so they hate me”. She also said to Times Magazine, “women tear each other apart, girls think I'm a slut. And I've been in the same relationship since I was 18. The problem is, if they think you're attractive, you're either stupid or a whore or a dumb whore. The instinct among girls is to attack the jugular”. But what we found in our research is a lot of comments, essentially saying that Megan Fox is not a woman's woman. And I found this comment. “I don't like Megan Fox, because she does not appear to like other women, and seems to go out of her way to let this be known”.
Yeah, well, I mean, jealousy can play a role in whether women are seen as a woman's woman, as she suggests, especially if there's a feeling of competition, that there's only so much attention and love and validation to go around. And also, instead of us all being individuals, there are these ideals that were being directly compared to and that's very stressful. So one comment that highlights this is that I found on Jezebel was, “here's where it might be coming from. If one's mother keeps saying, why can't you be like that girl down the street, you're going to resent that girl down the street. Same with a friend of mine who's now dumped boyfriend kept joking that he wished she was Angelina Jolie. She now finds Angelina extremely irritating.” I think if my ex boyfriend did that, I'd also find her irritating, but I'd be more pissed off at him. So but yeah.
Exactly, Sarah. And I think it's interesting, because I've got sort of first hand insight into this as a very beautiful woman. No.
Yes, yes, you are.
You know, I sort of incite hatred everywhere I go, No, but someone very close to me growing up was a very beautiful woman. And I remember them saying that when they were at school, they had long blonde hair in a plait and these girls sort of ganged up with those big school scissors, you know, and cut her plait off her hair. And she said, I've been the target of other women's hatred all my life. And she said, you know, I go to dinner parties, and we'd all be married, but the women will like, you could see them just looking at me and scared to death, I was gonna look at their husband, like as if suddenly they were just going to turn and run off with me. And it's been difficult because this person, very, like I said, very close to me, said that she's a very loving person, very into supporting other women. It's actually she feels other women go out of their way to make it known that she's not welcome in their tribe, you know, she's not welcome at the dinner table. And I've personally witnessed this, you know, and I feel like this is a truth, women don't like overly beautiful women being around them.
No, I do think that that definitely does play a role sometimes. And I would say it plays a role for some women in some cases, but the the bugbear that I have is that this idea that jealousy is the only reason that you might not like someone. So it's essentially the Pantene approach of ‘don't hate me because I'm beautiful’. It's such a convenient way of avoiding any responsibility for behaviour that might not be the best. You know, if someone goes - Oh, you don't like me because you're jealous. And it's like, no, I don't like you because you're an asshole. Like, you happen to be beautiful as well, that's not reason I don't like you. And the truth is, you know, we're capable of multiple emotions, we can be jealous and also legitimately not like someone because of their behaviour. The thing I don't like is the way that often certain men will specifically blame it on jealousy. Because I think it feeds into this idea that they have that women are petty and bitchy. So I remember being at uni, and there was a girl I didn’t really like in my year. And I didn't really like her because she kept trying to manipulate me into doing her homework for her. And she definitely treated the girls differently to when guys were around. So you could see that sort of double sided thing. And a male friend of mine once said, Oh, girls don't really like her because she's pretty, she's really sweet. And I was like, no, no, she's not sweet. You're confusing her prettiness with her personality. She's she's very pretty, but she's not sweet. And if I was jealous of beauty, then I wouldn't like anyone who was conventionally attractive. And I, one of my best friends at uni is probably one of the most stunning girls ever. So I wouldn't have been friends with her. That doesn't make sense. And I can list loads of women who are stunning, you know, that I really liked. So Kate Winslet, Kim Baysinger, Eva Mendes, Margot Robbie, I can just list loads. So I would never like attractive women, if that was, if jealousy was always the key to that.
Yes, that's a really good point to make. But it also feels like Megan Fox has been on the receiving end of some hate for not playing the role of like the conventional mother. You know, she has three children with her ex-husband, Brian Austin Green, who she separated from in 2020. And then she was immediately linked to Machine Gun Kelly. And she regularly posts sexy photos and talks openly about her sexuality. And many people seem to think this makes her a bad mother. And someone commented on a photoshoot she posted on Instagram with “where your kids at?” But actually Megan has hit back calling out this double standard. “Do you ask their dad when he's out? No, because you don't expect a dad to be with the kids all the time. But I'm supposed to be seen and be at home with my kids. They have another parent, I have to leave and sometimes I don't want to be photographed and they don't come with me. This whole year I've been very surprised by how archaic some of the mindsets still are in some people.”
Yeah, I you know, I understand that point. And I think it seems very much like there are various things that Fox has been criticised for. But I found this really good description of why she doesn't appeal to women by Hortense Smith on Jezebel. And she said “women don't hate Megan Fox because she comes across as confident, they hate the Megan Fox archetype, because in a way it validates all of the high school notions of what sexiness is. Porn star poses, slow motion boob shots, and references to lesbianism and bisexuality as kinks instead of sexual orientation. What Fox is marketed to represent is exactly what the bad girls who came before her were marketed to represent - a naughty, slightly crazy (as of course no sane woman would ever say such scandalous things) woman who uses her sexuality to get what she wants. And for many women, the idea that we need to put on our best sexy face and be a maneater to feel empowered or sexual is an irritating one. She is the personification of the Cosmo brand of sex. And that is why women find her so annoying”. And I just thought that summed it up so well. And so much that it's the archetype, not just her. But, I think this is also reflected in the comments where people call her out for her own self objectification. So for example, there was a comment that said, “this woman can turn heads dressed in a potato sack. Why then does this mother of three display her near nakedness to us? She's scared of becoming obsolete in a sex obsessed world as she approaches 40. Pretty sad, stop appeasing men.”
Look, I think they're really good points about Megan. And I think the question is, that who's doing the marketing? Is she doing it on herself or someone else? Is it the media industry? Because whenever I've seen interviews with her, she seems very honest and quite vulnerable. And in on the kind of media game. And lots of people have for being outspoken and smart. Like this comment I found on YouTube to one of her interviews, “Megan is a lot more humorous, intelligent and witty than the media allows us to give her credit for.” And like I said, to me, she seems very self aware. And she's sort of playing the game.
So I think she is quite a challenging person at the moment, you know, to sort of, sort of understand, and she often tells her fans off too saying, you know, don't get so angry with me and to calm down about my sexy photos. And part of me thinks she's sort of enjoying pushing the limits. But also people say to her, Oh, get an only fans account already, like just go down that route. But then she always sort of comes up with some sassy comeback, often, shutting them down. But I like this Instagram comment about Megan Fox when someone was sort of attacking her on her Instagram. “She is the dark feminine energy we all need right now”. And that “Jennifer's Body was actually a documentary.” And “can Megan please, please, please can you do a remake of Poison Ivy with Margot Robbie? My bisexual heart would explode.” And I’m kindof down for that as well.
I think maybe maybe Megan brings out the bi in all of us, you know?
Everyone on the planet.
Yeah, I think what's really hard is, is she's almost become a parody of herself. And it's like, where is the Megan Fox the persona, and where is Megan Fox the real person. And she has actually openly spoken about having severe body dysmorphia, feeling really bad about herself. And I love that she's open about that, despite what she obviously looks like. And everyone would think she's super confident. She sits in a very complex intersection of these issues. And I don't really know where I stand on it. No, I shouldn't end with that.
I think you should sort of say that she is someone you can't just put down in one thing.
Yeah. Is she a woman's woman or a man or woman? I think it depends on if we're talking about the image of her or who she really is, and I'm not sure that many people know who she really is.
So an interesting offshoot of the woman's woman, or a man's woman, is something called the ‘Pick me girl’. And I came across this in a Reddit forum when I was sort of looking at one of my favourite podcasts and they wer sort of dissecting the hosts, which I hope no one does to us.
I don't think we’re big enough.
No. So they describe one of the hosts as a ‘Pick me girl’. And I had no clue what this means.
No, no, before doing the research, I was like, I've never even heard of this before.
Yeah, so this passed me by. So a ‘Pick me girl’ is a girl who seeks male validation by indirectly or directly stating that she's not like other girls. She is commonly depicted as a woman who is micro-aggressive towards other women. For example, “She says she prefers to hang out with guys, because girls cause too much drama. The motive of the behaviour is embedded in the time itself by distancing herself from feminine stereotypes. She establishes herself as different from other girls, which therefore screens to a presumably heterosexual male audience. Pick Me.”
So basically, you're so unlike other women, that's why I like you.
Exactly. You see that trope quite a lot in film and TV. And I think in the real world, for me, I've seen this most in corporate life. You know, I've been lucky enough to have, I mean, lots of supportive women and leaders and bosses in my life. But I have observed over the years, you know, there's always some women in the workplace who, you know, position sounds a little bit like - I'm not like other women, you know, they grew up their way to demonstrate that they're emotionless, drama free, rational, calm, and they align themselves very closely to men. Basically, I feel like they're trying to put other women down to elevate their own status in front of men. And I've come to my own conclusion that this, sadly, is sometimes a sign that I've worked in very male dominated places. You know, they, they feel like all men have got all the power, so they've got to kind of get their approval, and we have to kind of fight each other to sort of get in the door, and then up the ladder.
Well, it's weird for me, because it sounds like internalised sexism, but then also, it can be, I've only been on the opposite side of it. So when I was doing boxing, it was more that I was irritated by the girls who are overplaying the girliness to appeal to the men. And so maybe they would have called me a Pick Me Girl. I wasn't really trying to be picked, but I was just like, let's just get on with this and try and get the respect. You know, I don't want to be treated differently to the boys, I wanted to… But that's a whole different thing, I think maybe I don't know.
I think that's a really fair point to make, because some, I do honestly think that some women aren't just innately I've got those traits, and I'm not trying to make them masculine or feminine. But what I'm trying to describe is this sort of, I don't know how you can put it, like, the not like the other women performance, you know, it feels very calculated. A little bit sad, like I said, because you do feel like well, actually, is it because we're all like this system of patriarchy, and we all have to fight each other, you know, to kind of get our places and kind of stab each other in the back. But I do think that this term is sort of sad, because it's sort of insinuates that, you know, all women are kind of the same, femininity is bad. Like I said, it creates this competition. Yeah, I think that kind of we're sort of set up to fail a little bit.
Yeah. Well, when we were doing this research, I came across this quote by Kayla Tricaso on Modern Intimacy, and she said, “the pick me girl mentality is born out of an attempt to avoid those painful feelings and revel in the idea that out of all the available girls men can pick from, they picked her. If that means she must renounce other women to secure that feeling and safety. That's something she's decided she's willing to do.”
So what are your final thoughts, Sarah?
We've seen that there are some women who just rub other women up the wrong way. And Megan Fox has fit into this camp for most of her career. But Ariana Grande has only recently come under fire for this after being accused of effectively breaking the girl's code. And it takes us back to the animal kingdom where there has always been competition within the sexes. So for mates, for resources, even just for status, and this seems to be what we're really talking about when we call someone, a ‘woman's woman’ or a ‘man's man’. And it assumes that there are two separate teams, women and men, and that you either appeal to one or the other and that their needs are completely incompatible. It also assumes that you can't be multilayered and have aspects that are both feminine and masculine. And the reality is we are. We're all complex beings that can be different things in different situations. And men and women don't have to be in competition, we can all be on the same side, despite our differences.
What's more, most of these archetypes and labels that we use, you know, like mean girl, homewrecker, maneater, femme fatale, temptress, slut. They're more often than not aimed at women. And they're built from the idea that women can be grouped as morally good or bad, virgin or whore. Oftentimes, they're used to try and shoehorn a woman back into their expected role if they've tried to step out of line.
That said, we've, we've all known people who are competitive to the point of saboteurs. Whose lack of self esteem sadly drives them to repeatedly screw over others to feel validated. Mostly, I do try to feel compassion for them, because they obviously feel so unworthy that they have to behave in this way. But that doesn't mean I don't protect myself. If I know someone is like that, I'm not just gonna give them unlimited access to my life. But if I have a partner who can be lured away, then as much as there is enough blame to go around. He's the one who is ultimately at fault. And in the end, throwing blame around isn't actually going to take away the hurt and betrayal that I feel.
Yes. And I've got a quote from you from the New Inquiry about Drew Barrymore, who's considered the quintessential woman's woman, “hire a woman's woman on your sales team, and you have insight into the heart of all women. Put her on television, and you've got yourself a successful talk show hostess”. So hire me and Sarah.
Yeah, we're just a call away. Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next time.
We'll see you next time. Thank you to our lovely producer Emily. If you enjoyed today's episode, please don't forget to leave a review and subscribe. It really does help us in reaching more people. You can also follow us on Instagram. Our handle is @s2tcpodcast and find out more about the show, get behind the scenes. Come and say hello. Until then. See you next time.
This podcast has been produced by Emily Crosby media