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Why The ‘Shit Girls Say’ Meme Is Sexist, Racist, And Should End

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Graydon Sheppard appearing in episode one of "Shit Girls Say."

CREDIT: YouTube / shitgirlssay

I arrived late to the new meme “Shit Girls Say,” but my family members were quick to fill me in over the holidays. They showed me nearly every iteration of the original video series, hoping I would laugh wholeheartedly at the absurdity of watching men in drag speaking a nonsensical “girlish” language that irks, who else, but the men who have to put up with it.

I laughed—but only with half my heart.

When the meme got a racialized twist with Billy Sorrell’s “Shit Black Girls Say” version, I choked mid-chuckle. Both videos refer to adult women as “girls,” and portray them as weak, stupid, silly, bad with technology, and helpless.  And in Sorrell’s version, a part about black women being stuck in abusive relationships is too disturbing given that they are more likely to be victims of domestic violence than white women.

The Internet has responded with even more – one page of YouTube results alone show spin-offs called: “Shit Asian Girls Say,” “Shit Drunk Girls Say,” “Shit Single Girls Say,” “Shit Gay Girls Say,” “Shit Black Guys Say,” and “Shit Girls Say to Lesbians,” to name a few.

Just when I was ready to begin ignoring the viral Internet video jokes, I came across the latest spin-off: “What White Girls Say … to Black Girls.”

In Franchesca Ramsey’s version, she dons a blonde wig and ticks off a barrage of seemingly innocuous comments that, she claims, white women say regularly to black women. The content is inherently racist.

Update: I want to correct the phrasing in the above commentary about the “Shit Girls Say” meme. I intended to comment on Ramsey’s spot-on social critique of what women of color face when dealing with racially charged comments in predominantly white social spaces. I stand by my original assertions that “Shit Girls Say” is sexist and, in general, the videos that have followed are also offensive to typically marginalized communities (LGBT, black women, and other ethnic groups).

In a Huffington Post column, Ramsey explains her personal experience dealing with the very real and complicated racial tensions women of color face when dealing with social grace:

After I entered high school, the teasing subsided and my circle of friends grew to include girls from all walks of life; but I always seemed to fall in with the white girls from upper middle class families. I quickly became the "token black girl" in my group, which came with a whole host of awkward questions and first experiences for my peers. Unfortunately, the awkward questions and comments didn't stop after I graduated from high school. Throughout college and even today, in corporate America, I find myself fielding inappropriate questions and swatting hands away from my waist length dreadlocks.

Over the years I've found that dealing with white people faux pas can be tricky. If I get upset, I could quickly be labeled the "angry black girl." But if I don't say anything or react too passively, I risk giving friends and acquaintances permission to continue crossing the line. So I decided to create my own parody, "Shit White Girls Say…to Black Girls," to make all people laugh while, hopefully, opening some eyes and encouraging some of my white friends and acquaintances to think twice before they treat their black friends and associates like petting zoo animals or expect us to be spokespeople for the entire race.

(Ramsey creates other parodies, too, like this great “Student Loan Countdown,” a cover of Beyonce’s latest hit.)

Hopefully this “shit [adjective] girls say” buzz has now run the gamut and this is the final harvest of a meme initially, and continually, seeded with sexist ridicule.

Naima Ramos-Chapman is an associate editor at Campus Progress.

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