The “math girl” was a fun joke on social media. Then came “Math Boy”.


The problem with social media jokes is that they don’t stay funny for long. Someone takes them seriously, then they become exaggerated comments on society as a whole, and then some media outlet goes and writes about them and smashes the whole thing to the ground.

The concept of “girls’ math” is currently going through this process. This trend is characterized by women making jokes about the internal calculations they do to explain their silly, but sometimes not-so-silly behavior. It’s less “mathematics” and more, say, internalized feminine logic, often obscure but always entertaining. Some examples of “girls math” include:

“Mathematics for girls is fundamentally about realizing that time, rest and money are interchangeable currencies.” Disability rights influencer Imani Barbarin He wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

It’s supposed to be a joke, and like all jokes, it’s not for everyone. You either understand the concept of math for girls or you don’t, and it’s not worth getting too upset if you’re in the latter camp. You don’t necessarily need to know her heritage; It comes during 2023 Colorful Barbie It’s girls’ season, or in the wake of the “girls’ dinner” trend, or it echoes the social media mantra of 2021 that posits, simply put, “Girls who get it, get it“.

Unfortunately, axioms relevant to girly math have made their way into parts of the Internet that, well, don’t get it. Groups of people began criticizing these innocent jokes, as if a single joke indicated a vague desire for free shipping Profound financial illiteracy Or that the indirect logic that women sometimes admit affects every serious decision in their lives.

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“Girl math” is simply momentarily ignoring our responsibilities. one commenter wrote On X. “And everyone should make it a civil rights issue.”

Naturally, Girl Mouth has also entered the lexicon of brands and big names to keep up with the latest trends. (“Girl’s Dinner”, a term that basically refers to a personal charcuterie board or random bite-sized snacks from the fridge, It attracted similar noise during summer.)

“You call it Math Girl, we call it Labor Day Sale,” a recent promotion from Lane Bryant clothing brand is reading.

From this tangle of high-stakes criticism and brand interference, the idea of ​​“girl athletes” has expanded far beyond its original goal. Finally, the peanut gallery on social media has turned this trend on its head. After all, if “girls’ math” exists, what is “boys’ math”?

“I think the great equalizer of girls’ math to boys’ math is the fact that all of us guys think we can land a plane,” a man in One of the famous TikTok Supposedly. (This might also be an interesting extension of Roman Empire speech(which started when several men admitted that they thought about the Roman Empire on a shockingly regular basis.)

Kevin Lamarque – Reuters

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is one of the big names getting involved in the “girl athlete” trend.

Some boy math examples They were a little less, shall we say, cheerful

“The math boy wants a traditional wife but he calls you a gold digger because he has to provide.”

“Childish mathematics is how 5’10 measures 6’”

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when 51-year-old comedian Dane Cook He married his long-time girlfriend Kelsey Taylor, 24 years old The social media response was full of sarcasm From “Mathematics Boy”.

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used the flip in late September to call out Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy before he was Deposed From his position as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“Boy Math needs 15 attempts to correctly count votes to become president and then shut down the government 9 months later.” I wrote on XThis angered some male commentators who described it as sexist.

“The girls were just being silly and making fun of themselves with your girl math jokes, but you all wanted to be rude for no reason, look at you now, the boy math pull is endless.” One commenter wrote on X.

Suddenly, the lighthearted joke became much more than that: a commentary on gender and stereotypes, and an ambiguous reference through which to observe serious political conversations.

Deep meanings of boy and girl mathematics

Once you distort the trend and bring it back into the discourse, it is time to bring in an expert. Mary Louise Adamsa sociology expert and associate professor of kinesiology and health studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, gamely offered to address what “girls’ math” and “boy’s math” might mean — if we wanted them to mean anything.

“What I’m reading through this trend is that people still feel like they live in a very sexist world,” she told CNN via email. “They assume, and their experience confirms, that women and men approach the world from very different positions.”

Some of the discomfort around the “math girl” joke arose from the use of the term “girl”. Some people find themselves belittled When used to describe adult women, it clearly plays on the false stereotype that women are less capable at mathematics than men.

“Some women try to make jokes that rely on the fact that differences between men and women are still considered fundamental to how people live,” Adams said. “In the 1970s, feminists must have thought we’d get over this by now!”

However, she said that jokes about “girl math” can serve as a humorous reclamation of these stereotypes. Such humor is a natural form of bonding, she says, and can produce a shared identity. Through this lens, jokes about spending money to save money, or how to manage time while trying to fulfill different social roles, serve as subversion of these expectations coded as “girl” rather than repetition.

“The desire for identity is not just about math, but perhaps about resisting the greater cultural denigration of women’s consumption habits, and the persistent assumptions that women can’t be as good as men at math and other technical things,” Adams said.

“Women may be ignoring people who try to devalue them.”

At this point, it’s less “math for girls” and more calculus for girls, or game theory for girls. It makes sense for those who need it. For others, it’s an equation they don’t have to bother solving.

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