Monday, November 17, 2008

Some phrases leave me cold

Or more accurately, peeved and irritated. It is uttered by women about women and yet I find it belittling and sexist. The phrase has been circling around for a few years, I can find a reference dating back to 2004. The offending catchy and annoying verbiage is girl crush. I avoided even typing it as long as I possibly could without driving my readers crazy. From the first time I heard it rubbed me the wrong way completely, and initially it was hard for me to put my finger on why it disturbed me so much. But the more I heard it the more I realized that it felt like derogatory version of what was truly being expressed.

A "girl crush" appears to describe one woman finding another woman admirable, intelligent, graceful, creative - whatever appropriate adjective applies. This is used by heterosexual women to describe being "smitten" in a totally nonsexual way; though often straight women will offer up example of stars that they have a "girl crush" and clearly find the option of their obsession totally sexy and hint that they would maybe even do, as in wouldn't kick out of bed. It is important to note that I have so far only seen a sexual tone of the crush being applied to famous people so there is no chance of having to face the fluidity of sexual identity, which is borders dangerously close to homophobia.

The overall notion is not new however it has been posited that it has not been been used so openly in several generations. It also sounds rather Single White Female in some of the descriptions found online. Apparently it can be used to describe a whole section of the population in a very negative fashion (this link demands a separate post by someone way smarter than me). Makes me love this term even more, not. Moving on. The Times article suggests that it's better than a boy crush because there is no break up, except other sources strongly suggest that's not true. Some suggest that crushes can become great friendships, others say no. One thing I have noticed about a lot these crushes is that the object of affection represents what the crusher longs to be, how they would like to be perceived.

This I think is the crux of the problem for me - by naming your role model a crush it feels like the crusher has no faith that they can attain those traits, that their desire to grow and develop is not realistic - that it is indeed trivial enough to be a fleeting connection, a one-sided relationship. What a sad statement the women are making about their faith in themselves.


dykewife said...

i always thought of a "girl crush" as something that happens when I sit on a woman...but hey :D

heather said...

i will confess i never thought about it like this. and for the people for whom your last paragraph applies, i agree it is very sad.

for my part, whatever this is worth, mostly i have seen the term 'man crush'. maybe it means i mostly read guys. anyway, for the ones i know who've used that term -- some for obama, like you have here -- it just means there are traits about the other person they find swoony, but that's it. they don't want to have sex with them, it's just a character/personality attraction. so, there is quite a bit of variety in term usage, i think. but same for most 'crushes' i'd guess.

and to turn it around even more, i used to have a huuuuuuuge man crush on stephen colbert. now i would just say, regular size man crush. as for what that entailed/s from my perspective, i'll just say there's a lot i admire about the man and leave it at that. :-p

Jo said...

I didn't mean that post "girl-crush" to be homophobic in any way. I was trying to show the shades of gray of sexuality (I think I'd just watched Kinsey when I wrote that). Yes, I'm a heterosexual female and no I'm not sexually attracted to women to the point where I would sleep with a woman. However, I can be aroused by other women. It's very hard to explain.

While I realize that the comments from that post ended up being, what celebrity do you have a "girl crush" on? That wasn't the intent of the post. It was (in part) to share to my mostly heterosexual readers that, it's perfectly normal to admire and even fantasize about someone of the same sex, even if you don't have the inclination to jump into bed with them. That was my interpretation.