Gilmore Girls And Remembering Our Roots
I’ve been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls lately, as most girls my age seem to be doing. I watched the series in its entirety for the first time when it was added to Netflix in the fall of 2014 and I’ve been re-watching episodes regularly ever since. I can’t think of another television show that I’ve revisited with such frequency, and that fact has had me wondering just what it is about Gilmore Girls that has made it such a comforting experience at the end of a hectic day. I didn’t watch the show in real time when it was still on the air, but I did consume the reruns that were in syndication (Thank you, ABC Family. RIP) as often as I could make it home from school in time. In addition to enjoying the nostalgia, I find it interesting to relate to the characters in a way my younger self did not, and I know I’m not alone on this.
The most memorable thing about this show is the depiction of female relationships. No, Gilmore Girls is not the perfect representation of modern intersectional feminism on the small screen, but it does remind me of my favorite part of feminism: women championing other women.
In the years since I graduated from my small, all-girls high school, I have often marveled at the pressure put on women to compete with each other. Everyone needs to be the prettiest, the smartest, the most desirable woman in the room. Celebrity gossip magazines are always interested in who wore it best. There is incredible pressure to be successful at work, to advance in a career, and to climb that ladder as fast as possible. We are made to think that the highest compliment a man can pay you is, “You’re just not like the other girls.” The Cool Girl has only male friends because girls can just be catty, you know?
Well, I’m saying fuck that. I love girls. The female friendships I am lucky enough to have in my life have been better and more fulfilling than even Gilmore Girls could have prepared me for. Sure, everyone wants to be in Taylor Swift’s girl gang of models and actresses with their perfectly curated friendship and their coordinating-but-not-matching Fourth of July swimsuits. But here’s the thing: the real world does not look like that. Female relationships are complicated and nuanced and rewarding. They look like whatever you need them to look like.
They look like picking up both Papa John’s and Chick-fil-A to nurse a particularly nasty hangover. They look like traveling Europe without a plan and figuring it out as you go. They look like crying together when one of you gets dumped. They look like dancing to Rihanna all night long. They look like staying in on a Saturday night to watch old Disney Channel Original Movies and eat In-N-Out. They look like covering your ex’s house in toilet paper. They look like frantically shopping for prom dresses the day before prom. They look like staying up all night to discuss what it really feels like to be in love.
I love my friends and cannot imagine my life without their never-ending support. We celebrate in each other’s successes and pick each other up off the floor when we’re crying too hard to stand on our own. We sleep in each other’s beds when we don’t want to be alone and when we’ve had too much to drink. We cry when we move far, far away and count down the days until we get to be together again. We go months without seeing each other and reconnect in ten minutes flat. We have random dance parties when the weeks feel too long. We cry together when another boy lets us down.
I am grateful to the older women who have guided me. At my all-girls high school, I had incredible female teachers who opened my eyes to new genres of literature and the magic of theater. They encouraged me to take on new challenges, both academic and otherwise, and supported me when I struggled to manage it all. In my undergraduate experience, I met professors who inspired me and pushed me to discover my potential. Their belief in me gave me the confidence I needed to produce & direct plays and complete a senior thesis I am proud of.
I am grateful for the random kindnesses I have experienced from women who are total strangers. Last year, I was sobbing on a bench on Franklin Ave in Hollywood on the phone with a friend who’d recently moved to the east coast. While I was sitting there, two older women who were out for a walk came up and stopped in front of me. Taking my hand in her hand, one of the women said, in brief broken-English, “Don’t cry. You are young. You are beautiful. Don’t cry. Be happy.” We exchanged a few more polite words and then she left me with a simple, “I’ll be praying for you.” I haven’t been religious in years, but the realization that even a stranger was willing to take a moment out of her day to think of me and wish me well was lovely. I’d just moved to a new neighborhood, I was having a difficult time in my personal life, and I was scared. Those women provided me with some important perspective. I’ll never forget that.
This is what I want from my feminism. I want to know that there is always someone rooting for me.
As a wise movie once taught me, we’re all somebody’s DUFF. We cannot be the very best in everything that we do. This is not to discourage working hard and taking advantage of the opportunities we have today that our grandmothers did not have. But, this is to discourage forgetting that we are all in this together. Hold the hands of the women behind you and pull them up too.
I know this all sounds trite, but I don’t want to forget where this movement began: with a group of women. There is no feminism without amazing women progressing the agenda forward. It’s easy to sometimes get caught up in the stress and frustration of every gender-based battle we might be fighting. Those are real experiences and real concerns, but I want you to remember that you’re not alone. There are millions of women on this planet who are fighting with you every single day. Love them. They will love you back.