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Sandhu ’25: ‘I’m just a girl,’ ‘You’re just a man’ — What’s happened to accountability?

“I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” 

In an instant, Anna Scott’s tear-jerking line from the 1999 film “Notting Hill” captured my heart. With a confession of love that is so simple yet profound, Anna strips away all of the details that complicate adult relationships to reveal, at its core, a pure connection between “just a girl” and a boy.

“Norman fucking Rockwell” by Lana Del Rey captures the disheartening experience of being let down by a man:

“’Cause you're just a man
It's just what you do
Your head in your hands
As you color me blue"


These lyrics represent how women are so often taught to expect less from men simply because they are men, perpetuating the idea that men shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions and that women simply have to be forgiving of any of their missteps.

“Just a Girl” (1995) by No Doubt lyricizes the relentless stream of misogyny, generalizations and objectification that women fight every day, despite being “just a girl”:

“Oh, I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don't let me have any rights"

 The song’s satirical message has eternalized “Just a Girl” as a feminist anthem.

In today’s TikTok world, the “I’m just a girl” trend has brought the 90s rom-com trope and Lana and Stefani's angsty lyrics back in mode, but with a twist. For many women, it has become trendy to minimize the difficulties of the feminine experience and claim that women cannot overcome challenges on their own due to their gender. However, the trend begs a follow-up question: Is it truly comedic to diminish feminine capability, or is it becoming real? 

While the many videos might inspire an online community of shared experiences and solidarity, it can also send the wrong message. Leaning too much into the “I’m just a girl” phenomenon in 2024 might unwind progressive feminist values, rendering both women and men unaccountable for their actions and capabilities. 

The TikTok trend is light-hearted at its core: Girls are saying “I’m just a girl” as an “oopsies” when they drive over a curb or impulsively drop a hundred dollars at Sephora. However, there is a fine line between saying “I’m just a girl” and “don’t expect anything more from me.” When women fall short of their own expectations, they sometimes conclude that they are not capable and excuse the outcome as gender-expected. Belonging to a generation where women are raised to truly believe they can achieve their dreams, it can be a nice escape from pressure to revert to a childlike girliness. But, this can not come at the cost of labeling ambition as manly and undesirable, or that women can’t still expect more from themselves than what society tells them they can expect.

Why is gender taking the place of accountability? At the end of the day, men have been using the excuse “boys will be boys” for generations. Lana Del Rey’s lyric “You’re just a man” has brought to our attention how women make light of the immature behavior of men, as if their gender limits their ability to behave any differently and women must come to terms with that. Maybe it is time women retaliate by making the same excuse, and in some ways, it does push back against this systemic acceptance of poor male behavior. Ultimately, though, we all should reinforce a sentiment of achievement, excellence and resilience instead of avoiding accountability, regardless of gender. This trend not only allows us to evade responsibility, but also further emphasizes binary gender norms that revert the progress we’ve been making for decades. 

No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” showed us how this type of complacency and infantilization of gendered behaviors is harmful. The “I’m just a girl” trend has begun to undermine feminism. We want more from men, but we adopt this defeatist approach where we feel like they never will get better so there is no point in expecting more. We want more for women, but shy away from being treated like competent adults. These phrases we use may seem silly and inconsequential, but social media has the power to reinforce these regressive ways of thinking. You may just be a girl, but that doesn’t put a limit on what you’re capable of.

Meher Sandhu ’25 can be reached at Please send responses to this column to and other op-eds to


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