Good Girl Going Bad: Why “Bad” Girls Should Be #Goals Too

Some women aren't the role models we want--they're what we need.

Her Voice

I clapped for Rihanna back when she checked the world and reminded them she's nobody's role model--she's simply living her damn life. It was real then and it's real now, specified at those who unduly ask celebrities to conform for the sole purpose of parenting the children of the world.

In the words of a wise internet person (who, that I'm unsure): f*ck them kids.

All jokes aside, the world tends to want their role models to fit the stiff stature of a homogenous society while some of the best role models have been anything but "socially acceptable". Despite acknowledging that "well-behaved women seldom make history" and having zero regard for the miserable lives we would ask celebrities to subscribe to under the guise of being a so-called-"good" role models.

Because being a good role model in our world means not living a life worth living -- it means ridiculously asking that celebrities be flawless at all times even when they're young and most deserving of that learning curve and the grace we grant to the rest of our youth as we learn to fly.


We ask that people live a facade and feign shock when we find out that a celebrity has overdosed after years of closeted addicition, or government officials are exposed for their closeted kinks and sexual preferences amongst other things. I have to wonder if any of these things would be so salacious and jaw-dropping if we just let people live in their truths to begin with. Well, at least those whose truth do no tangible harm to others.

All any of us can do is our best, and for many of these stars (well before insta-fame), the goal was to simply thrive and be able to take care of their families using their talent. This shouldn't mean that they have to sacrifice an authentic journey. We often hear stars cite "the pressure" as the root cause of drug addiction; and WE HAVE TO KNOW, in part, that pressure comes from a fanbase and media outlets that demand that they uphold an image of innocence that is unrealistic and not at all true of any human being walking this earth.

And I know without a doubt that this standard is always far more impossible for women than men--providing little to no leniency for those moments we deem uncouth and immoral when it comes to women. How do I know? Well, one word: patriarchy! And history has taught us that it is a woman's role to maintain purity while it is a man's role to cause sexual upheaval as he sees fit...and, of course, be providers.

With that in mind, I encourage us to embrace the importance of having role models who are confident, raunchy, sexy, independent, experimental, and most of all: living.

If we were only ever given the Lauryn Hills and the Beyonces of the world, then we would continue to uphold a patriarchal standard of purity and wouldn't have the true versatility necessary to bust down the glass ceiling we so desire to have removed.

Nasty women don't just live in the arenas of the politico. Many of us like to quote and post vintage photos of the sultry pastimes that walked so we could run during this and every other hot girl summer to come.

Yet, somehow, we still manage to ignore the one thing that made them stand out during their time: reckless disregard for the rules of sexuality and gender norms. It's not lady-like for women to hang with the big dogs and many of the most historical women made history by doing so in a multitude of ways and sometimes they weren't the best choices; but it is our poor choices that we learn the most from.

Legends like the "Queen Bee" Lil Kim, Missy Elliott, Trina, Foxy Brown, and those that predate them like Eartha Kitt, Josephine Baker, and Lena Horne -- none of them followed the rules regarding what it meant to be a woman in this world.

And had they not broken the rules, can we genuinely say we'd love them the way they do?

I say all of this to say, please please stop pushing the narrative that we solely need more Lauryn Hills in this world when the reality is, we could use any woman who changes the narrow-minded expectations of how we as women should move through this world.

Stop negating the empowerment behind the lyrics of musical artists because you would prefer that your kids only be exposed to music that promotes a lifetime of missionary and under-the-radar-living. As I've said many times before, having a well-rounded personality includes all the moving parts of self, including an autonomous sexuality and sense of independence. And in truth, many of us will never reach a full sense of independence because we're too dependent on the views of society and being socially abiding citizens.


Personally, Rihanna (if you hadn't guessed by now) and Megan Thee Stallion have proven to be some of the women I stan for the most and it's because I can relate to them in a very holistic way. Rih took music to the next level, exploring topics mainstream woman musicians hadn't touched, has never been one to feign perfection, and has created a Fenty fucking empire. While Megan has made efforts to collaborate with fans to clean up the environment, attends college, and is a self-proclaimed "big ole freak." And we're asking that young girls not idolize them why again?

It's nothing more than fear of those things we can't understand, such as how a woman can be a woman without subscribing to the construct of lady-like-ness. We bop to the beat of male artists exploiting us and then scoff when women take back that power and make a bag. It makes zero sense. Celebrities and particularly badass women won't always be the hero or idol we want but nine times out of ten they will be the heroes and idols that we need.

At least, if we have any hope of raising sexually liberated and truly independent thinking women.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Rihanna Is A Savage In The Most Empowering Way

For The Women At The Intersection Of Cardi B. & Coretta Scott King

Megan Thee Stallion Dropped Her Fire New Album & Here's What You Need To Know

Rihanna's Unapologetic Refusal To Be One-Dimensional Is Our Career Goals

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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