Recently I read a fabulous article on Vulture about Mindy Kaling, who is one of my idols, and, more importantly, one of my girl crushes. When she’s not talking about being a grown-ass woman who happens to like pop culture, she mentions a few of her strongly held, somewhat controversial opinions. Yes, her dislike of birthdays is surprising, but it’s not what I took issue with. Minds, as I sometimes call her when we are having romantic comedy marathons in my daydreams, said she hates the phrase ‘girl crush.’ She is certainly not the first to make such a statement, as I’ve read everything from serious pieces on political correctness to grammatically shameful Tumblr rants dealing with the phrase. But once I found out Mindy shares the opinion, I decided I had to take a stand.
Here’s the thing; I’m not going to hold it against you if you don’t want to use the term. That would be stupid and pointless and I don’t have enough drive to be so stubborn. But I don’t understand nor do I agree with people who take such a vehement stance against it. Do I get where they’re coming from? Of course. Yes, if you want to use a very narrow definition of the word ‘crush’ then it might be seen as backpeddling or homophobic to say “girl crush” because it is as if you are saying you can’t have a crush on another female (assuming you yourself are female; the same goes for the term “man crush” when used by those of the male variety). But with a word like “crush,” which is hardly any sort of serious academic term and much more of a cultural concept/abstraction, it’s meaning is not so confined to romantic ideas.
I can only speak for myself, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I don’t use “girl crush” to refer to women I might actually like romantically and/or be sexually attracted to. For any woman about whom I do feel that way (looking at you, Shannon Woodward), I will proudly announce my crush to the internet. (I don’t really leave the internet, or I’d say it out there, too.) To me, “girl crush” is a way to refer to a woman I really admire, either for her gorgeous looks (Katy Perry), her sparkling wit (Jennifer Lawrence), or her sense of fashion (Emma Watson), just to name a few. I might have a girl crush on someone for some very specific thing they do (Zooey Deschanel doesn’t take any crap for her public persona), or for some overall thing that they’ve done (who among us has not crushed on Helena Bonham Carter’s general badassery, and I mean crushed on it HARD). But the thing about my love for all of these woman, is that it’s not romantic or sexual, so it seems like it would be incorrect to just say “crush,” because it would demean the term’s connotation.
The thing about a “girl crush” is that it’s like saying you have a “talent” crush on someone because of the awesome skillz they have at whatever it is they do (writing, breakdancing, executing the perfect French braid), or a “beauty” crush (intense eyes, cute chin, manageable hair), or a “brains” crush (ability to do math, extensive trivia knowledge, quick comebacks). In some way, you admire this person for being the girl that they are, or woman, if you prefer. The point is, just because we have the freedom to be attracted to a person regardless of their sex, it doesn’t mean we can’t differentiate between sexual and non-sexual admiration for another human. In fact, we probably should, or none of my friends are going to realize how much I’d love to take Shannon Woodward to a drive-in movie.
– Gabby Costa, Staff Writer