This report, fictionally filed by NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg, shows that the female residents of a house at 2000 S St., NW in Washington, D.C. are not only influenced by negative media portrayals of their gender, but also perpetuate them.
"While the gender of women is not the whining, plotting, backstabbing, man-hungry lot the media makes them out to be, those prescribed roles are eventually taken up by women and used to perpetuate and deepen the stereotype leading to even more negative behavior. It is an evil loop that can hardly be broken.
Look at Erika, who interviewed for NPR over the phone, which is the way all NPR interviews are done, because we find comfort in dealing only with faceless voices. She was under the mistaken impression that this was the only vehicle to launch her career as an edgy, alternative singer songwriter. From this it became apparent that she didn't know the mission of our station at all and was not asked back for a second interview. This sends her into a downward spiral of depression and makes her want to leave her house and the social experiment she was engaged in on S Street and go to the nice safe confines of her bed where she can curl up under the covers and cry in the fetal position every day for hours and hours.
It's clear that she sincerely suffers from depression and finds both motivation and positive thinking difficult. She has become the quintessential mopey teenage girl, which not only worsens her condition, since she has a role to fall into, but also lessens it, making her into some cheap joke for the world. Poor, poor sad thing.
Luckily she has an excellent female friend Callie, who always looks on the bright side and is making a name for herself taking pictures of gay biker rallies. When Callie tries to pull Erika out of her depression it is like dragging an eel out of a toilet bowl. But eventually she wins, Erika relents and is determined to stay in this environment Callie has just convinced her is not toxic.
It's a victory for girl power, but one that is quickly subverted by what is going on in the hall. Housemates Ashley and Emily are spying on the whole thing, eating chips and making bitchy comments like they're casually dissecting an after school special rather than watching a real human drama unfold. Emily can't stand Erika's behavior, and can't see that her brain is obviously clouded by illness. She calls Erika "spoiled," a word Ashley used to describe her weeks ago that incited quite the war of words around the house. Now that another woman's cattiness has justified her own, she is happy. Her long-standing grudge has been rectified, and she will make all the girls hate Erika. She celebrates this by clinking Sun Chips with Emily, like they are petty champagne flutes filled with fizzy hatred.
Just as bad is an altercation between two women vying for the affection of Andrew Pandahat, a clingy sort who can't trust girls because his mother cheated on his father. Also, he can't understand why girls always treat him like shit. Maybe it's because he misogynistically treats them like pieces of meat only there to please him sexually. Maybe, Andrew. Just maybe. But finally he finds one that he likes, Andrea, who has been married and divorced already at the young age of 23(ish). Their relationship is going well, even if he's talking about moving in together on the third date.
Back to the women! One night when out at the bar hunting for women in pair formation—a trick Andrew and his friend learned from watching the Jersey Shore television program—Andrew has to entertain the "grenade" friend of a hot girl so his housemate Josh can score. He thinks that men should always choose other men before women. It's "bros before hos" writ large, which would be horrible if all the women who wanted Andrew weren't hos. But this grenade wants him, he wants him bad. She is another Girl, Interrupted, just like Erika and she has anxiety and wears sunglasses in the club because she is sad and her heart is black. She says the reason she is so messed up is because she was bullied by other girls in high school.
Andrea, Andrew's girlfriend, catches them hanging out and gets upset, understandably. Before Andrew can go explain the innocent situation, his Black Widow gets to make her final move, telling Andrew that the other girl is ugly and asking him if he even has standards. She does not believe in "hos before bros," she believes in bullying another girl so that she can rebuild her crumbling self-esteem with the approval of a woman-hating man. Andrew does the right thing, and leaves her behind for his real connection with Andrea, who immediate forgives him and becomes his girlfriend. She wants that approval too.
All these girls want to do is fight with each other. Fight and bicker over petty things and to have a bunch of men tell them that they are worth having. Even Emily, who always stands up for independence, won't join a sisterhood and support the women around her. It's just Callie, beautify sunshiney Callie, with a face like a plate of eggs and a smile of bacon, who wants everyone to join the sister hood. She mustn't watch reality shows, because they think the only interesting characters to watch are shrieking harpies and watching them will turn her into one of them, blotting out her brightness like a toxic fog.