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Artillery Row

Dylan Mulvaney did not share our girlhood

His bizarre parody of the female experience is grossly offensive

Back in December 2013, feminist Twitter began discussing their shared experiences of growing up in a female body. They used the hashtag #SharedGirlhood and hundreds of tweets were exchanged about some of the horrendous experiences women commonly had growing up. These evidenced societally entrenched, misogynistic attitudes which affect female lives from a very young age. 

Examples included being told rape was inevitable following certain behaviour or dress, being held down and raped by other children or less barbaric, but still damaging, tales of female disempowerment at school and in their own families. Many of the unpleasant examples were rooted in life-limiting stereotypes. Few tweets talked of how brilliant it was to grow up a girl and most of the experiences “shared” by women were things they would have preferred not to have happened to them as female children. As one woman said:

13 and horrified when the bus driver began fondling me; my fault I knew – I must have given him the wrong idea #sharedgirlhood

Predictably, even all those years ago, within hours of the hashtag becoming popular, trans activists and their female assistants began to object. Just as they continue to do today, men demanded to be included in something reserved for females, in this case the experience of being a girl, something which, by its very nature, has to exclude men. Not out of cruelty or unfairness, but reality. Men did not grow up as girls. How could they? In 2013 these men organised collective reporting of women who did use the term and many feminist women were temporarily suspended by Twitter as a result. Women were outraged at such silencing and took to their own platforms to write things that Twitter would not allow. 

They felt held back by the stereotypes he euphorically drapes himself in during this nauseating video

In 2024, however, the aggressive advances of trans activism are such that a 27-year-old trans identified man, Dylan Mulvaney, can build a lucrative career on his invented, and impossible, experience of “becoming a girl”. He has now, to the even greater humiliation of women and girls, released his first pop video, “Days of Girlhood”. Mulvaney seems keen to embrace a version of “girlhood” few women described in a positive way. They felt held back by the stereotypes he euphorically drapes himself in during this nauseating video. 

Women are not girls, and men in their late twenties certainly aren’t. In 2013, women acknowledged that some things about their past — not all of course — were common and a result of growing up under a patriarchy which meant their experiences were frequently oppressive and occasionally brutally violent. None of this appears in Mulvaney’s video which is a bubble gum-pink world unrecognisable to actual women. 

In Mulvaney’s fantasy female landscape there are no builders leering from buildings screaming at Mulvaney to get his “tits out for the lads” and frightening him into thinking he might be raped; he does not have to endure menstrual cramps or excessive bleeding and he doesn’t worry about the drunk pervy uncle at a family party. His imagined world of being a girl is having a bath in full makeup, line dancing by a swimming pool and shopping for lingerie with other women to help. The shocking reality is that most women don’t take another woman with them when they buy knickers. It’s just knickers Dylan. The excitement comes if they cover your arse and don’t ride up inside you. 

It’s like Craig David suddenly woke up tuneless and clueless and gave his career another go dressed as a skinny white woman

Mulvaney’s video begins with him arriving home from a night out and then proceeds to trawl painfully through virtually every offensive female stereotype in the misogynist book. The insulting tropes include the male fantasy that young women are most often found hanging around each other’s bedrooms hugging each other in skimpy lingerie, with a mother who is servile to their needs and enjoys domestic tasks such as delivering endless tea and filling her time trimming already perfect hedges. The message seems to be that young women’s lives are frivolous and pointless; that they grow into women with even less purpose and relevance beyond assisting their female children to waste time. Mulvaney trills “Monday can’t get out of bed, Tuesday morning pick up meds, Wednesday retail therapy.” It’s like Craig David suddenly woke up tuneless and clueless and gave his career another go dressed as a skinny white woman. 

The objection to this video is not to do with his clothes or hair. He can wear whatever he likes. It is offensive because it is dangerously lying about women — and those lies are being told to much younger women and girls. 

One of the main premises of this video is the suggestion that women have an obligation to help Mulvaney to learn how to “be” a girl. At the beginning of the video Mulvaney issues a “code pink emergency” and demands women “of all ages” respond because as he says, “girls like me gotta learn the basics”. This is a standard patriarchal demand that women assist men in their life goals at the expense of their own and that they should immediately drop everything to do so. This time the goal is to become one of them, to go along with his delusion, to assist him in humiliating women with a grotesque parody of their actual lives. There are no “basics” to being female that can be learned. The basic requirement is a female body and there ends the possibility for Dylan’s endeavour and fantasy.

When Mulvaney perches, scantily dressed in lingerie, on the round pink bed — the strange focus of much of the video — to recount his “walk of shame” where he has had casual sex and “didn’t even know his name” he ignores the experience of countless young women who are subject to sexual violence. The reality of this type of experience is that many young women are being coerced into exploitative sexual encounters, under the guise of sexual liberation, fuelled by a porn-soaked society which encourages young men to see them as disposable objects. Mulvaney clinks cups with the servant/mother figure and laughs at her horrified reaction. This lazy liberal feminist message, that sexual freedom is actual freedom from patriarchal oppression, expired years ago, didn’t it? These casual sexual encounters could be fun and consensual, but ignoring the real risks and consequences of casual sex with a man you don’t know, from rape to contracting a sexually transmitted disease, is dangerously irresponsible.

I refuse to believe that when Mulvaney refers to the women in the video as “my dolls”, utilising the possessive pronoun, that he is unaware that he is semantically establishing his place as their leader and rendering them toys. After all, it must be a huge buzz to make a pop video and pay women to surround you and endorse your fantasy.

The line “the patriarchy’s over you can hold our beer”, delivered as Mulvaney punches the air, is offensive to feminist women still battling daily to eradicate systemic and physical male violence against women in its myriad forms. Finding a way to obscure patriarchal oppression by pretending you aren’t part of it is a quietly dishonest act of genius. 

Some women might say, “but why give him the time of day? Why even draw attention to him?”. I think it is because in Dylan Mulvaney we have an example of a hugely influential man — he has a vast audience and has received awards — performing a grotesque parody of a woman in front of actual young women who don’t know how to, or whether they should, object. 

We must speak against that every time, or we risk it being normalised. You may think he’s irrelevant, but a great deal of young women are being taught that this is fun and normal and that they must celebrate with him whilst he insults them. They are being taught through this video that they should assist men who want to pretend to be women to do it more easily. If older feminist women, the proud witches and hags, don’t stand against this restricting view of life as a girl, younger women might look to us as endorsing it or at the very least suggesting it’s not that important. I do not endorse a man telling girls that their shared experience is all one big laugh. 

Because we know full well it isn’t. 

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