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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Commentary: It doesn’t matter if astrology is fake

Let’s start letting the things enjoyed and popularized by girls exist

Mercury is in retrograde, and does that really mean anything? Who knows, but sometimes it is reassuring to think everyone else might be going through a weird time simultaneously, and that the stars are affecting it. Whether you know each detail of every placement in your zodiac chart or you just like when websites say you’re “fiery, bold, and spontaneous” based on your birthday, like me, astrology offers a small bit of fun for anyone.

 Yet for some reason, this entirely harmless practice is consistently made fun of and discredited primarily by straight cis-gendered men. This partially has to do with the fact that far less men believe in astrology than women—as a 2017 study by Pew Research Center shows, 37 percent of American women believe in astrology, while only 20 percent of men do. The often-elusive deeper reason behind this mockery is rooted in misogyny, as astrology is most predominantly enjoyed by and marketed towards women. 

Anytime there is something predominantly enjoyed by young girls or deemed a “feminine” interest, there are troves of people creating countless reasons to criticize or belittle it. In one article asking readers why they hate astrology, author Hannah Krieg provides some examples of this: “makeup is vain, deceitful, and lame; candles are frivolous and lame; boy bands are lame; astrology is lame,” (Krieg, 2019). While this can be applied to innumerable hobbies, interests and trends, the one I’d like to focus on is astrology. 

More often than not, the moment that star signs, zodiac or horoscopes are mentioned by a girl she is met with three kinds of people—those who enjoy astrology, those who are entirely neutral on the subject and last but definitely not least, those who despise astrology and for some reason always have to tell her something along the lines of “you know that’s all made up, right? It doesn’t mean anything.” My primary rebuttal to this is who cares? Why let things like “fantasy football” and “the stock market” slide, but draw the line at harmless personality types correlated with the stars and planets? 

I won’t actually get into whether astrology is real, because, as I previously stated—who cares? Who’s to say if the time of year someone is born, and the alignment of the stars at that time doesn’t have any impact on your personality or disposition? Definitely not the frat boy majoring in econ who laughs at girls for asking when his birthday is—he was probably a Taurus anyways. 

In all honesty, astrology is just so fun. It’s fun to look through one of those zodiac meme accounts (check out @glossy_zodiac if this interests you), to find yours and send them to all your friends. It’s fun adding someone new on the app Co-Star to see your platonic or romantic compatibility. While a lot of these memes and horoscopes we see are highly susceptible to the phenomenon called confirmation bias—the tendency for people to only seek out and pay attention to information that supports what they already wanted to believe—it’s still entirely harmless and an incredibly fun way to connect with friends, or to reflect on yourself. It’s also a great way to find out if you’re emotionally, sexually or platonically compatible with someone you’ll never meet, like that one celebrity crush you just can’t get over. 

I strongly advise us all to use astrology as the first stepping stone to letting people enjoy things. For example, I don’t understand the stock market (I don’t want to) and with the recent GameStop stock debacle, it’s been made pretty clear that the stock market is not an entirely logical setup, but I personally let people enjoy it (it’s just not something for me). You can be skeptical of the validity of astrology, or even outright not believe in it, but putting people down—especially young girls—is unnecessary. 

I personally can’t think of one popular thing among teenage girls that hasn’t been ruthlessly ridiculed—take a minute to think of one, and if there’s something I missed please let me know. Once we all take note of this pattern, the obvious next step is to take action to fix it—for some, letting astrology be enjoyed, and holding back the urge to “disprove” it can be a great first step. Next, maybe we could even move onto admitting that music that young women like is actually good, or the dances they do on a particular video sharing app are cool and fun—these are just some suggestions I’m putting out there. 

Written by: Angie Cummings — arts@theaggie.org

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