I had another blog post planned today, but a conversation on Twitter caught my eye. I had a moment. One of those “I have to get this rant out before I explode” moments. You can probably tell I get these often by the general tone and theme of my blog, so here goes.
There are some words in the modern English vernacular that I just can’t stand. As somebody with an interest in linguistics, I understand that language is dynamic, that it fluctuates and develops between regions and generations. I get all that. It still doesn’t stop me from wincing every time someone drops a misplaced LOL in a text. Just because something irritates me though, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I also don’t like spiders, Bermuda shorts, or men in shiny suits. I get that I need to coexist with them, and I do. I haven’t killed a spider since I was 10. People in Bermuda shorts and men in shiny suits can sleep easy knowing I won’t try to wipe them from the face of the planet.
However, there is one thing, one word, that pisses me off so much that I visibly shudder when I hear it used. #Squad. It’s origins have nothing to do with celebrities, millennials, or hashtags. It’s not new, it wasn’t invented by Taylor Swift or her contemporaries, though it has been used as an expression of friendship between groups of young black people for over 20 years. Yeah you read that right. Squads have been referenced in hip-hop lyrics for longer than Swifty has been alive. The term was NOT plucked out of nowhere by cool white kids, though they have most certainly appropriated it. The word and its associations are just another thing “adopted” and bastardised by privileged white people.
I could go on about cultural appropriation here, but what truly angers me is the connotations of the use. Rather than promoting inclusiveness, the use of #Squad and #SquadGoals screams of exclusivity. I have zero desire to emulate some manufactured group of aspirational women with my friends. What happened to having the wherewithal to CHOOSE who you are friends with through common interests, morals, or goals?
Strong female friendships are something to be celebrated. Having a close bond with other women is empowering. We should definitely be building each other up rather than knocking each other down, but the overall impression I get from these self-declared #Squads is that if you’re not with them, you’re against them. Defending your friends against a “common enemy”, which in most cases is just anyone who happens to disagree with one of them, is verging on dangerous territory. It’s how bullying starts. To maintain the equilibrium within these groups, things must always, unequivocally, stay the same. No one can upset the status quo. Whilst it’s true that close female friendships help build self-esteem in young women, it seems that whilst building up those within the group, it doesn’t necessarily lead to forging healthy relationships outside the group.
No one should ever be made to feel inadequate. So when we talk about female solidarity, can we please stop using it to excuse going in blindly guns a-blazing to defend their “sister”, or calling out anyone who isn’t part of their group using bullying tactics?
Promote inclusivity. Make your own choices. Someone who isn’t part of your clique isn’t automatically a bad person, and ganging up on someone just because one of your friends has isn’t a good look. It is the very opposite of female empowerment, and feeds into the outdated misogynistic narrative that all women are catty, bitchy, and full of drama.
It just makes you a bit of a dick.