Why we never hear, "Girls will be girls."

This past week, one tired old idiom resurfaced to unprecedented attention.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said it when he addressed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

The Atlantic featured it prominently in a recent story.


In an interview, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking into her lap, recalled how she, and “every woman of [her] vintage,” found themselves tyrannized by it.

The Guardian, PBS, CNN, Quartz, Dictionary.com, Merriam Webster, UrbanDictionary.com, Huffington Post, The Weekly Standard, Christian Science Monitor, Psychology Today: all have think pieces or definitions to contribute.

The idiom, of course, is “Boys will be boys.” And all its attendant cultural noise forced me to think: What about its natural, largely unused counterpart: “Girls will be girls?”

Unlike “Boys will be boys,” which crowds my mind with behaviors ranging from rowdiness to rape, “Girls will be girls,” virtually empties it.

When I try to make it mean something, a blank unfolds in my brain—a kind of prolonged end-of-gong silence.  

When I Google "Girls will be girls," the first and most prominent hit is a 2003 drag comedy—a campy romp that mostly mines humor from a time-honored sight gag: men dressed as women. Of ten results on Google’s first page, this minor movie occupies eight. The other two: an online clothing boutique featuring items like ‘Sabrina python mini dress’ and ‘Nicole leopard palazzo jumpsuit,’ and a forgettable pop song by a young artist named Sophie Beem (in the YouTube image, Ms. Beem stands limply—dead-eyed, gape-mouthed—in a midriff-baring school uniform.)

Remarkably, not one result remotely addresses female behavior (whatever that means).

Come-hither schoolgirls, sexy jungle jumpsuits, men in drag: this is still the realm of "Boys will be boys," in service to the male gaze, and, well, the male gays.

So, I narrow my search, add "idiom" to the phrase, and enter a refreshingly nerdy corner of the internet, occupied mostly by grammar forums, where I discover this gem, on stackexchange.com, contributed by an anonymous user:

It seems "Boys will be boys" is a well established idiom and, according to Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed… it is, "something that you say which means it is not surprising when boys or men behave in a noisy, rude, or unpleasant way.

So I began to wonder if "Girls will be girls" is a phrase that begins to take on an idiomatic meaning in English. Is it so?

To which a user responds:

Excellent question but, no, GWBG is only a derivative, jocularly replacing girls for boys, because culturally girls don't act like boys at all. …GWBG does not stand alone in meaning by itself — its meaning depends on its connection with BWBB.

As an expression, “Girls will be girls,” a bit like Pop-Star Sophie, doesn’t stand so well on its own. “Girls will be girls” is the linguistic equivalent of our most powerful gender-related narratives—from Eve to Echo to Galatea—that reinforce our most damaging patriarchal myth: that men exist independently of women, but women require men to exist.

Suddenly, I understood why “Girls will be girls” —as a phrase—made my mind blank. That blankness did not, as I assumed, signify a lack of meaning. The silence, the blankness—was the meaning.

"Girls will be girls" means reducing oneself to a blank upon which "Boys" can more easily project their desires. “Girls will be girls” means calcifying into the silent wife-face who watches her husband from the back of a courtroom, stands beside him as he confesses his affairs, or witnesses him take oath for office. “Girls will be girls” means voiding yourself, transforming yourself into an empty space for "Boys" to invade, occupy, and destroy.

To those, including our shameful President, who doubt, even mock, Dr. Ford’s testimony—to those who believe if she’d truly fled the house in severe distress, someone would have noticed; to those who find it suspect she kept quiet for 36 years, and if she’d truly been assaulted, she’d have reported it: that’s not how this works. Brett Kavanaugh was a "Boy" that night—loud, brutal, self-obsessed—and, in turn, Christine Blasey Ford was a "Girl"—mute, blank, invisible.

This is what women are doing when they bravely speak their truth—when they loudly protest the status quo, clamor for justice in public squares, and corner Senators in elevators: they are refusing to be "Girls." They are annulling their end of a corrupt bargain, in which they are expected to take responsibility for the actions of others, and clap their own hands over their own mouths. Because the accepted patriarchal narrative—about boys existing independently of girls—is wrong. The opposite is true. Without girls who are "Girls"—without that roaring collective silence— boys who are "Boys" will cease to exist.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.