Gossip has a pronounced presence in all walks of life but, speaking from experience, its presence in the life of a teenage girl is almost immeasurable.
While gossip may seem harmless at the time – sometimes having the power to form friendships – it leads to bullying and, ultimately, girl hate. Now I’m about as sisterhood as it gets, but I occasionally still find myself leaning over the lunch table and listening in because…who did what at where?
Despite the negative connotations associated with gossiping, a study I stumbled across online stated that humans are hardwired to gossip – that it’s an integral factor of social bonding and an evaluation of others. Not all gossip is necessarily bad – it can even be cathartic – but talking about someone behind their back, especially in a negative manner, is unsanctioned and definitely against the Girl Code.
And that is where the problem lies. There is a defined line between venting or catching up with friends and the spreading of rumours and catty comments about other girls. Gossiping brings out a lot of internalised misogyny that has been embedded into society and in girls and women themselves.
This normalisation of women degrading women not only plays into the created competition that tears down rather than supports, but gives more leeway for men to degrade women. In the words of the almighty Tina Fey: “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whore. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores”.
This article is pretty female-centric, but the message is the same for everyone, everywhere. Instead of gossiping and criticising others on trivial and usually appearance-based grounds, our focus should be on supporting not only girls, but fellow human beings as a whole.
Words: Allison Tovey
Image: Chloe Anais Parke