By Eliana Stanislawski, 21
Teenage heartthrob Harry Styles blew up the internet a couple of days ago when made the groundbreaking statement that girls should be taken seriously. People shared his quote from a recent Rolling Stone article all over the place:
“Who's to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That's not up to you to say. Music is something that's always changing. There's no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they're not serious? How can you say young girls don't get it? They're our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don't lie. If they like you, they're there. They don't act 'too cool.' They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.”
Naturally the statement, which definitely deviates from the typical discourse around the capability and worth of teenage girls, prompted celebration from the feminist depths of the internet.
My kink is Harry Styles respecting teen girls and their pure unironic enjoyment of things, thank u. pic.twitter.com/pY9GZYQWeQ— katherine speller (@Kathriller) April 18, 2017
I have spent maybe ten collective minutes of my life thinking about Harry Styles, but his respect for teen girls and their passions? 👌🏼 pic.twitter.com/Oj8gaoWxPw— Rebecca Podos (@RebeccaPodos) April 18, 2017
I am so here for mainstreaming a mindset that treats teenage girls like people who are worthy of our time and attention. I am so here for actually respecting some of the most capable, intelligent, and passionate people alive who are shaping our future with such determination that those in power are shaking in their white, capitalist, heteropatriarchal boots.
But I am not here for throwing flowers at the feet of someone who is doing the bare minimum to respect his primary consumer base.
We are so eager to praise a prominent male figure who espouses a feminist viewpoint that we forget Harry Styles owes everything he has to teenage girls. Everything. His musical career is built by profiting off of the desires of this demographic.
There is not necessarily anything wrong with this (if you don’t have a problem with capitalism, which I majorly do, but that is another conversation). We should take what Styles said seriously and be glad he is treating teenage girls like real consumers with valid desires. But we cannot forget that, at the end of the day, to him they are his consumers. Teenage girls write the checks that Harry Styles cashes to buy things like $12,500 lamps. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
If Harry Styles said something bad about teenage girls, we would all come after him, as we should. But we should expect that he treats teen girls with respect. That should be a baseline of acceptable behavior from everyone, and especially from people who profit off of teenage girls.
Below is a list of ways that Harry Styles could follow the lead of some other male celebrities that would earn him actual praise from me:
- He could use his music to raise money for important women’s organizations like John Legend, who has performed at benefit concerts to raise money for Chime for Change.
- He could involve himself with an on-the-ground organization helping women and girls like David Schwimmer, who is the director of the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA and has released several sexual harassment PSAs.
- He could attend political rallies and give speeches like Mark Ruffalo, who gave a speech in Jackson, Mississippi at a pro-choice rally to defend a local abortion clinic.
- He could give women a platform to take down sexist bullshit like Seth Meyers does all the time.
Or we could stop centering men in feminist activism and focus on the female-identifying people leading this movement, since we seem to be falling into a familiar pattern.
So, yes, Harry Styles said something true, and if it makes teenage girls feel good about themselves, then that is great. But if we were going to put up with anything less than what he said, then our bar is far, far too low. You don’t get to do anything less than show teenage girls respect and still expect their admiration. They’re too smart for that crap.
The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not reflect official positions of Day of the Girl-US