The “Psycho Girlfriend Aesthetic” is The Worst Trend of 2016

The possessive girlfriend trend. The psycho girlfriend aesthetic. You’ve seen it. There are pages on Facebook and profiles on Twitter dedicated to it. Any well-reasoned girl looks at them and finds the pictures, tweets, and statuses utterly ridiculous. No sane girlfriend actually thinks like this, do they?

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The answer is no. And if you do, or your girlfriend does, you are in an extremely unhealthy relationship. It’s not normal or healthy to police who your boyfriend talks to, to stalk his every move on social media, to get upset when other girls like or comment on his pictures, to give him death threats if he has other female friends, or to go through his phone without his permission. It’s not okay to keep him from friends or family members because you want ALL of his attention. It’s not fair to place extremely unrealistic expectations on him and throw a fit when he doesn’t exceed them. It’s abusive. It’s toxic. It’s a setback to feminism and a slap in the face to all the women who work their butts off for the female population to be viewed as the exact opposite of what you’re promoting for the sake of aesthetic or humor. And it can actually result in real, cold-blooded murder.

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Let’s talk about what would happen if the roles were reversed. If a friend (let’s call her Jane) happened to be dating a man who didn’t let her go out with friends, didn’t let her wear whatever she felt comfortable in, body-shamed her, expected her to cook and clean, stalked her profiles, cut her off from her friends/family, sent her death threats, and demanded every single second of her attention, you’d advise your friend against keeping the relationship.  You’d call him a misogynist, you’d call him abusive, you’d encourage Jane to safely leave the relationship. You’d be concerned for Jane. Because it isn’t normal. Because all of those things are signs of a controlling and abusive relationship. We can’t just flip the script because women are doing it. It does not suddenly become cute and unproblematic because you’re just a girlfriend who “cares too much.” By doing this, you’re hurting your boyfriend and you’re hurting other women.

Fun fact: In January 1892, author Charlotte Perkins Gilman released the famous short story, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’ In just six thousand words, she exposed a common struggle among women of her time: The Hysteria diagnosis. Basically, any woman who experienced any type of depression, insisted on working, rejected the housewife role, and wanted a voice of her own was diagnosed by doctors as hysterical. That’s where the crazy, irrational, hysterical, overemotional stereotype of women stemmed from. And those women who were diagnosed were forced into unethical treatments such as electric shock therapy or intense isolation from loved ones and being unallowed to read, write, talk, or sew. Charlotte wrote the story in response to her treatments and exposed the harsh truth of women being mistreated for their emotions. Charlotte and women like her, fought for women’s emotions to be taken seriously and trailblazed a path that led us to where we are today. It’s unfair to set that all back in time and act like being crazy is somehow beneficial to the female population. Why are you so proud of a label that women have been trying to shake off for centuries? Why are you willing to sacrifice the chance for women to be seen as rational in society, and why do you keep promoting the damaging stereotypes that have effectively held women back? Being a “psycho girlfriend” isn’t cute. It’s not helping anyone. And doesn’t it just make your relationship miserable?

I’ve heard that the memes of death threats are just jokes and not to be taken seriously. I’ve heard that “it’s just Twitter, no girl is going to actually kill someone.” However, that was all debunked when a user allegedly planned out the murder of her ex-boyfriend’s current girlfriend on Twitter just weeks ago.

 

Kendra Childs was killed in a drive-by shooting. Witnesses say the shooter aimed a gun at her second level apartment and pulled the trigger, successfully murdering her. Child’s boyfriend found her hours later and she was pronounced dead at the scene. She was killed the day before her twentieth birthday and had a young daughter.

You may think this is all a big joke to be taken lightly. Maybe it is for you. Maybe you can only see innocent fun in it all. But maybe someone else doesn’t. And by posting the memes with death threats and thinking it’s cute to threaten murder against your boyfriend or his ex or any girl who dares to look at him, you are enabling someone else to act upon it. The term “Dyadic Phenomenon” or “Dyadic Communication” is described in criminology as the way murderous pairs fuel each other with their bloodlust. Meaning that every time you joke about killing someone for looking at bae or joke about killing your man for not texting back, you are helping to start an actual psychopath’s fire. And even though the internet is a large group of people, it only takes that one carefree joke, that one shared meme, that one retweet to reach them and to aid them in their destructive path of murderous rage. And the worst part is? The longer this goes on, the deeper it gets for someone who legitimately wants to kill someone.

Think about that next time you joke about any type of domestic violence or encourage cycles of abuse. Doesn’t seem so light-hearted now, does it? Trust me, you don’t want to be a legitimate example of a “psycho girlfriend.” The only places that will lead you to are unhappiness, prison, or maybe even death. There are no happy endings with this kind of behavior.

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Kaliane
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Kaliane is a twenty year old girl who lives in a small town in Arizona. She enjoys writing articles about mainstream media and challenging them on their sexism, lack of representation, or racism. She also enjoys swimming, walking her dog, writing poems, and whipping up baked goods. Her favorite color is yellow and her favorite musical artists are Lorde, All Time Low, Fifth Harmony, Demi Lovato, and Alanis Morissette. She enjoys binge watching both Girl Meets World and Boy Meets World. You can find her on twitter @MoonriseKaliane!

5 Comments

  1. What you are saying is true BUT it’s funny how this article is so worried about this hurting feminism when that whole #mygirlfriendisnotallowedto trend is just as bad if not worse and perpetuates the same violence and control over women we have been fighting against for centuries. I know it isn’t the focus of this article but it deserved a mention, at least.

    ALSO, kinda pisses me off that they took a picture of Harley Quinn and used it to headline the article. Yes, in the comics (and sometimes in the cartoons) Joker is often quite abusive, but Harley is not! So you’re placing the blame on the woman when that is a blatant lie. And they used a pic from the New Suicide Squad movie, a DC universe where Harls and Joker are somewhat mutually possessive but anything but abusive towards one another. Insane, yes, but within their own relationship more functional than most. So now we also have the perpetuation of the idea that people suffering from mental illness can’t form healthy, meaningful relationships. What’s more, even in the worst parts of their relationship in any universe, neither Joker or Harley do any of the things this article is specifically talking about, so both of them are a shite example anyway!

    Harley Quinn is not your psycho girlfriend trope, she’s not your manic pixie dream girl, and she’s not your poster child for the abused or the abuser. Whoever chose this photo literally was just like “ah, she’s popular and nuts, right? Also has a boyfriend, perfect!” Which, again, says to the audience that mental illness = violent, abusive, and unable to function within a normal relationship. Its demeaning to women, to people with mental illness, and to a fictional character that has become a pop culture icon and an inspiration to girls and women worldwide.

    I hadn’t planned to rant, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it bothered me.

    Reply
    • This isn’t about Harley Quinn. This isn’t about women’s rights right now either. It’s simply to shine a light on how men feel, because they do not have that voiced.

      Reply
    • Sara
      I see where you are coming from and what you are trying to say but if you follow comics at all, “the Joker and Harley” are anything but a successful relationship goal. The Joker is abbusive and Harley lets him. She IS insane in a criminal way and is no way a social icon anyone should look up too.

      Reply
    • Wanted to second this — I thought the article had a lot of merit to it and did explain why these kind of jokes and media portrayals are negative, but there are a lot more situations that are physically acted out as a result of the man being the controlling one. And while this article is talking about the reverse, when men are often more likely to behave this way, it did deserve some kind of acknowledgement.

      Reply
      • @Mary I really have to point out here that domestic violence is very close to 50/50… somewhere along the lines of 60/40 the last time i looked at criminal statistics.
        Where you get this “men are more likely” is just plain wrong and lets not forget that MOST men dont report abuse. So the stats would be either 50/50 down the line or even 65/35… with more abused men but nobody can be sure puerly because most men refuse to report it. I know i have in the past. Thinking that it was just my issue.
        So why people tend to think that men abuse more than women… utterly ridiculous and totally unfounded. Although men are know to get harsher sentences for the same actions, and women tend to be much more tactful using emotional and mental abuse and blackmail, where men are more physical. But really abuse is abuse. Why cant we call it equal when it is… and lets be honest here. Nobody should be abusing anybody full stop. But the world isnt perfect and there are bad people on both sides of the spectrum.

        Reply

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