We’re really all about the love here at GGG. But, today, inspired by a pretty annoying experience whilst reading The New York Times (a publication I usually love) I’ll be throwing a little shade. The reason I am sharing this on the blog and not just in a rant-email to Christina is a) I already did that and b) this article and what it represents is a huge reason why we started Girl Gift Gather.
Today the Fashion & Style section of nytimes.com released a post entitled ‘The Bedford Stop,’ Reality in Williamsburg Is the Perfect Parody’. It’s a short article on the new reality web-series, The Bedford Stop (“a reality show about Brooklyn girls avoiding reality”). This series attempts to show “an earnest (if slightly exaggerated) portrayal of the Williamsburg woman” according to the show’s creator, Mikey Ortiz. The show is unscripted and inspired by Mikey’s friend, Olena Yatsyuk. The trailer follows Olena and her girlfriends as they swipe left, take selfies, and figure out ways to get free drinks. And here’s the thing, Olena and her friends are totally entitled to cry about break-ups, wear risqué halloween costumes, and post to Instagram to annoy their ex-boyfriends. My problem is not in their actions because these women (and all people for that matter) have the right to behave in whichever crazy, wonderful ways they see fit. Especially when they’re in their early twenties.
My issue is that some guy from Florida with mediocre camera skills has taken it upon himself to depict the ‘Williamsburg woman’. My issue is that he has chosen to depict this woman in a tasteless manner that is painfully focused on spectacle and drama. My issue is that The New York Times is giving him a platform to share what, at best, can be called a tired concept for reality TV. My issue is that giving projects like this large scale attention is damaging to women.
I know plenty of ‘Williamsburg women’ who aren’t obsessed with Tinder and selfies. Many of them have their own companies, work hard at their jobs and have fulfilling lives. I know so many of these women that we’ve created an entire website and video series around them. I also know that many (if not all) of these women have happy, healthy relationships with their female friends. They speak honestly and openly with each other. And yes, sometimes their conversations are about texting an ex-boyfriend, or whether they can pull off culottes, or who they get their hair cut by. But, just as often, their conversations explore the current political landscape, the Syrian refugee crisis, the challenges of motherhood in today’s working environment, and how to manage employees when you own the business.
Can I blame twenty-six-year-old Mikey for his lack of imagination and hapless pursuit of fame? Why would he want to highlight all of those awesome women when all he has to do to be written up by The New York Times is convince some twenty-three-year-old girls who are likely struggling with self-esteem and self-worth that they’ll be internet-famous if they let him film them? And while I yearn to ask these girls why they are putting the representation of women into the hands of a man when it’s been proven time and time again that men will present us as shallow, bratty, bitchy, and ’emotional’ in order to get ratings, I know that going after them is not the answer either.
This article is obviously click-bait, and while I understand that the internet is full of junk designed to rile us up and annoy the masses, I also know that The New York Times is a respected publication. It is trusted by successful and powerful people and it claims to share important information. Perhaps that’s what’s so disappointing. This isn’t E! News. This is an article under a publication that has a huge readership who respects it’s opinions. As a result, this is an article that is contributing to how people see young women like myself. And when I walk into an office full of men (which statistically will happen to me more often than not) this article is one more thing that is working against me (never mind the pay gap).
Let’s stop trivializing women. Let’s stop scandalizing their mistakes. Let’s stop giving men opportunities to depict us in the media. Let’s stop watching shows that make women caricatures who are greedy, ditzy, bitchy and vain. Instead, let’s highlight the countless triumphs, incredible work and beautiful progress we see happening among women. We’re trying to do that here and we hope you’ll join us.