It’s with a heavy heart that I have the report that the term “girl’s girl” has officially been found dead, thanks to the new cast of the Real Housewives of New York City.
It’s not that this casual, light-hearted term has a particularly firm definition aside from “a woman who simply enjoys the company of other women.” While every self-declared feminist would likely describe themselves as one, it’s not exactly a political identity. By these standards, someone as overtly pro-women as Malala Yousfzai and as anti-women as Meghan McCain—but has been seen hanging out with other women, including Erika Jayne—can both call themselves “girl’s girls.”
On Real Housewives, where women go from trauma-bonding to clawing each other’s eyes out in a matter of seconds, the term is just as slippery.
However, a plotline that’s unfolded over the last two episodes of RHONY—and took a particularly frustrating turn in Sunday night’s episode—has now made me want to ban the once-endearing phrase from existence. At the very least, I now consider it a red flag.
On their first cast trip abroad to Anguilla, the women—led by self-identifying “girl’s girl” and unknowing villain of the show Erin Lichy—orchestrated their first overseas takedown against fan-favorite and notable fashion designer Jenna Lyons. In what became an unexpectedly controversial move, Lyons decided to arrive on the island a few days earlier than the other women for a number of personal reasons that seemed perfectly acceptable if not totally inconsequential to everyone else’s plans.
At first, Lyons, recovering from an intense dental surgery, told Liichy that she wanted to fly down early to get a tan so she would feel comfortable in a bathing suit around the other women. (Lyons has a genetic disorder called incontinentia pigmenti, which affects the color of her skin, as well as her teeth and hair.) In the same breath, she naughtily revealed that she also wanted to fly business class, instead of coach with the rest of the cast—which seems like a perfectly fine request for someone who’s six-feet tall and probably hasn’t purchased an economy seat since the ’90s.
Somehow, this innocuous comment was brought back to her castmates by Lachy as a snobby, classist remark but, more importantly, a sign that she doesn’t know how to be friends with girls. “Sometimes I feel like Jenna doesn’t have the 101s on the girlfriend handbook,” cast member Brynn Whitfield quipped in a confessional.
This isn’t the first time the women have come for Lyons about her alleged lack of girlfriend etiquette. Prior to the trip, the women complained that the former J. Crew president only knew how to connect with them through gifts—which is a perfectly acceptable love language from a stylish, wealthy person, IMO!—and that she had an ulterior motive by giving them products she had professionally sponsored. (Again, what’s the issue??) There’s also an equally baffling narrative that she isn’t open with the women because she didn’t tell them that her real name was Judith early enough and didn’t want to go into detail about her fresh breakup.
That said, there’s been a lot of nebulous policing about what is and what isn’t good girlfriend behavior towards Lyons from the group—minus Ubah Hassan and Jessel Taank, who seem like they can appreciate a free pair of LoveSeen lashes! From Lichy, De Silva, and Whitfield, who lead this “Jenna Doesn’t Understand Friendship” crusade, these accusations are extremely ironic, given how much time they’ve spent vilifying Jenna behind her back without offering this extremely polite, medically challenged woman an ounce of grace.
When the women finally confronted her in last week’s episode, it was a weirdly aggressive gang-up where they completely overlooked her insecurities about her health condition. And in Sunday’s episode, they push Jenna to tears while discussing plane-gate. And she has to invoke some maternal trauma she clearly wasn’t ready to discuss to prove she’s not a total bitch. Of course, Lichy has to run over to give Lyons a hug (for the tears that she caused!) because she’s such a “girl’s girl.”
Anyway, they all make up in the end. But they’ve probably given Lyons a reason to never be trapped on an island with a group of women again. They’ve also turned me off from the phrases “girl’s girl,” “girl code,” or any sort of arbitrary rules about female friendship again, given how easily they can be bastardized by the most insufferable people. At least, when Ramona Singer called herself a “girl’s girl” and bragged about her “50 close girlfriends” constantly, it was comical!
I thought I had enough when the women of Summer House accused Lindsay Hubbard of not being a “girl’s girl” for not wanting to lay in bed all day and trash-talk their castmates. But this latest plotline on RHONY has officially pushed me to the edge. R.I.P. “girl’s girl.” You had a good run.