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Full On: What is Rat Girl Summer?
The Muse Letter No. 130
Two years ago in the midst of the pandemic and the first summer after the big lockdown, I wrote about “The Rot Girl Summer” a subversion to the infamous Hot Girl Summer.
“Wait a second till I find my joy. It must be here somewhere.”
I wrote, contemplating the idea of forced happiness. Of this feeling that the Hot Girl Summer demands, that things need to happen. NOW! That summer has this manic energy of more, more, more. How do you like it? How do you like it? As if we’d need to break out into song every day the sun makes an entrance.
Back then a lot of the apathy had to do with the immediate and ongoing effects of the pandemic:
“Last night I was out for dinner with a friend, the first time since November (?) that I’ve entered a restaurant and sat down and had a meal without alcohol but that’s going to change next week when that will be possible again in Scotland and we sat there, shouting at each other because: wow was it loud in here, was everybody just a tiny bit louder than usual or were we just not used to it anymore?”
“By now I thought I’d be in exuberant bliss, going out to shops and cafés and museums, but it’s raining everyday and I still have the heating on. While the world is turning into a tasty green, you want to bite into its leaves, I stare out the window thinking: Shouldn’t I be happier? Or at least more grateful?”
Now, there’s a new subversion of the subversion “The Rat Girl Summer” which sounds similar, merely a vowel has changed but the impetus is different. Where “Rot Girl Summer” was about staying in, rotting away in your room, Ophelia-style – which born between lockdowns made a lot of sense– “Rat Girl Summer” is about “roaming around in the streets, finding yourself places you’ve no business to be in, nibbling on our snacks, embrace the rodent energy” @lolakoala proclaims in a TikTok in early June, which has since then gone viral.
There’s a fierceness to it, urging girls to go feral and wild, to go outside and explore, to stop behaving and conforming so badly. To decenter men and relationships in general, to stop pleasing others. (yes, please!)
Just like “Hot Girl Summer” you don’t need to be a girl to apply the concept to your life. The term girl in this case is used like a metaphor, an idea, a role, an energy, so applicable to anyone who wants to feel like a girl. It is in the end all about role play, about stepping into a character, to embody someone.
To elevate your personal experience to a universal one. What I suppose could be seen as a sort of pseudo religion. Creating meaning and community for those who participate.
Which is I guess the part where even these subversions grow a bit stale. In the end you’re still following an ideal, rather than your own desires, that might differ in the details. Only making meaning through a general lens. This is not actually a critique because I believe that followers of any kind of whatever summer, always make it their own in the end. But perhaps there is something there, I can’t put my finger on quite what it is: this looking to other’s? This declaration of a mass-movement? An overall arch connecting the girlies? Is it a need for community that is behind all this grappling to describe phenomenons? To define everything?
Whether you are doing the classic hot girl summer, the rot, the rat, the barely making it through struggling artist - summer, whether you think these concepts are stupid and you are just oh so mature and actually have a life that is based on your very own ideas, I hope you have a great one.
I hope you have the summer you need.
The summer you deserve.
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