Understanding matters related to politics and finances is difficult. However, that doesn’t mean that we should be dumbing things down, especially for women.
Several days after the Israeli-Palestinian war broke out, TikTok star @nikitadumptruck, who is known for providing videos on serious matters with “girl explanations,” was quick to explain the background of why fighting is currently occurring. In her now-deleted video, she compares Israel and Palestine’s 75-year conflict to two girls wanting to hold a birthday party at the same club.
Not only is this explanation an oversimplification of an issue that predates World War II and insensitive to the thousands who have lost their lives, but it also purports that women are incapable of engaging in legitimate and serious discussion of important matters.
As a self-described “professor at bimbo university,” Nikita applies this approach of likening newsworthy events to relatable pop culture analogies in her videos. Her hope is that through these explanations, she can attract and teach a mainly female audience about issues that can be difficult to understand. However, in an attempt to simplify these subjects, she does it through comparisons that relate to what women apparently know best: shopping, boys and drama.
By specifically targeting a female audience with this mechanism, dumbed down videos like these promote the idea that women do not and cannot fully understand the world around them. It thus perpetuates stereotypes that women don’t have the same level of political knowledge or financial literacy.
Take, for example, her video on the removal of former Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy. The action to remove someone from this position is not a light matter, especially when it was in response to his passing of a budget that prevented a government shutdown. However, the severity of this situation is entirely diminished with her comparison of this matter to the plot of “Bring It On,” a 2000s drama film about rival cheer teams.
As funny as it may be to watch her content as someone who is politically literate, these videos are presented as entirely serious for those trying to learn. A comparison like this reinforces the idea that women can only grasp political dynamics and current events through pop culture references instead of a comprehensive, sincere analysis. In addition, with a matter as serious as removing a Speaker of the House, no one should be learning about it through these videos. When it comes to important events that affect the nation’s highest governing body, the learning process should be done through reputable sources that take these matters as seriously as they are. If content creators are going to educate on their platforms, they also hold a responsibility to send viewers in the right direction to fully educate themselves.
It’s already difficult enough for women to fully shatter the glass ceiling when it comes to politics. With only 25% of Senators and 28% of the House being women, attempts to create a new and exclusive circle for women outside the traditional political sphere squanders progress for women wanting to work their way in.
Additionally, this issue continues in economic and financial matters. In one of Nikita’s biggest videos, she explains how BRICS, the international group made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is currently threatening the international power of the U.S. dollar. However, she does so in terms of the movie “Mean Girls,” which is about high school girls’ drama. Assuming that women most easily learn from explanations like these instead of thorough, legitimate educational means is harmful. It’s already difficult enough in the male-dominated financial world, where only 32% of women make up senior management and executive positions. Oftentimes, the claim is made that women can’t handle such demanding positions and do not have the necessary characteristics of being aggressive and dominating.
While this can be categorized as one of the many “girl” trends that flood the For You page on TikTok, this one doesn’t work to define womanhood; it demeans it. Popular discussions like “girl math” or “girl dinner” may have their own separate problems, but their existence is rooted in girls having shared experiences. “Girl explanations” like Nikita’s, however, establish a new but separate circle — one that pushes back on women working to make their way into and be taken seriously in academic and professional areas that have previously excluded them.
By teaching women through simplified and silly means, it prevents progress. Even if this seems small, it still has an impact. It’s already a battle for women who have to find a sense of security in a male-dominated field or who are established workers yet also have to tackle motherhood. Why further contribute by perpetuating a stereotype?
While barriers continue to be overcome within society, women’s own circles must break down these harmful stereotypes as well.