Girls are not like apples and other hard facts about the world.

Oh fuck off!

The above quote keeps doing  the rounds on Tumblr (by which I mean, keeps appearing on my Pete Wentz tracked tag. Um…). From my attempt at investigation (otherwise known as “googling it”) it seems that Pete Wentz never actually said it. I hope Pete didn’t say it, because I think he’s kind of awesome and he named his kid BRONX MOWGLI, come on (which is to say he and Ashlee Simpson named THEIR kid that and I’m sure she’s also awesome). ANYWAY, the point is that while an idle google search will not throw up the authorship of the quote it does present enough hits to suggest that this is a popular sentiment (even just searching for “girl apples” gets you this quote). Not to mention every time someone updates their facebook status to something about how unfair it is that guys always like the slutty, easy girls and not them – there is currently no search capability for this but I confidently state it’s probably happened a bajillion times.

Let’s get out of the way how heterosexist this quote is, it is hopefully pretty obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway. Not all girls are interested in boys. Boys aren’t the only ones who get to do the “apple picking” (urgh, gross). A girl’s role is not to sit around being awesome and complicated/hard (the antonyms of easy) waiting for a big brave boy to like her. Most importantly: male attention is not a gauge of anyone’s worth. This is slut-shaming. Slut shaming aims perpetuate the control of the patriarchy over female sexuality. This quote isn’t even being coy about the slut shaming, I mean, easy?! FFS I wish we were past this bullshit.

I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the quotes references “girls” and not women. Beyond annoying paternalism, I think that quotes like this have particular resonance for teenage girls. High school (for many people) is all about hierarchy, hierarchy decided by some pretty arbitratry criteria. So of course it’s comforting to get told that not only is the hierarchy sorted all wrong but that you’re actually at the top. That’s a pretty easy sell, whether Pete Wentz said it or not.

Let’s not forget that it IS shit being a teenage girl (of course, your mileage may vary). If you desperately want a boyfriend and no one is interested and society is telling you that teenage school girls look like this, and you have to take fucking French even though you don’t want to, and that guy you thought liked you was only talking to you because he likes your hotter friend and HORMONES. Yeah, globally, statistically speaking if those are your big problems, you are pretty damn lucky, but that doesn’t stop it feeling pretty shitty. It’s also difficult to have a whole heap of perspective, because being in school limits your exposure to other people who don’t buy into hierarchical bullshit. So I do get why this quote is totally appealing.

The only message I would salvage from this quote is that if boys don’t like you it’s not because there is something wrong with you — I am totally with you on that, Pete (allegedly). Although it is worth noting that no one owes you their affections, so let’s just try and remove all guilt/blame/value judgement from the equation. It is true that lots of people are kind of a mess in high school and there is a whole lot of macro and peer pressure on guys (and girls) to be attracted to prescribed beauty norms. That’s shit, but metaphors about apples aren’t the answer.

The thing is, internalizing that rubbish about “good girls” and “bad girls” is only going to make you feel better in the short term. That kind of message is in no way elevating, it doesn’t make you genuinely feel better about yourself, all it does is give you a whole lot of bitterness and hate directed at those girls, the easy apples, you know (just typing that makes me feel gross).

This quote really does “objectify”, in a very literal sense. Girls are not apples or anything else (I welcome further examples of objectifying metaphors in the comments!). Inverting the stereotype doesn’t make it go away. In fact you are really just enforcing the idea that there is some kind of hierarchy of worth, and that it applies just to women. Just as with the “those thin models aren’t even attractive to MEN” argument you are enforcing men as the arbiters of what makes a “good” girl and at the same time separating women from each other.

And now for a real world example and a demonstration of why my friends are awesome: The other day I was hanging out with my friends and a male friend, let’s call him Tom, made a comment about the kind of girls who have one night stands. I quickly got on my Social Justice League leotard (it has sparkles!) and spoke up. Obviously what I said was awesome, but what my friend did was even better. She said, looking around at the two girls in the room, “you know, at various points, we have been the kind of girls who have one night stands. Do you mean us?” and it was a kind of beautiful moment because Tom didn’t know what to say. It was also just the kind of thing I would never would have had the guts or awareness to do in high school (and that’s the first step, evicting the patriarchal police in your brain that reinforce these ideas).

I encourage you to pull this “I am Spartacus” shit the next time someone talks to you about “kinds” of girls. I’m sorry to sound preachy, but we have to stop letting the patriarchy divide and conquer us on this issue. So I encourage you to put on your sparkly Feminist Activist leotard, pump some Bikini Kill (or other music of your choosing) and stand up for all women: sluts, skanks, virgins, frigid girls and the ones in-between. Because we are all fucking awesome and none of us can be contained by RIDICULOUS METAPHORS ABOUT APPLES!

20 thoughts on “Girls are not like apples and other hard facts about the world.”


    During chapel at the Christian high school I attended, they once passed around an apple to basically symbolise virginity or purity or something. We were all meant to take a bite out of the apple to show how it could get depleted. Not many people took a bite out of it because it was kind of unhygienic but I basically ate half the apple when it came to my turn because I love apples.

    In conclusion: apples are the worst metaphors and why aren’t boys ever like apples?

  2. I keep wanting to make a clever joke about how it’s OK to have casual sex by saying that fermented apples are cool because that’s how you make apple cider, which is AWESOME. Unfortunately I’m not pithy enough, so it’s a lost cause.

    But I *do* quite like apple cider and also casual sex.

    1. In the same vein, I remember making apple sauce with my Grandmother. Guess which apples you use for making apple sauce? The ones on the bottom that have something “wrong” with them so they don’t go to waste.

      The only pithy statement I’m thinking of right now involving cider and applesauce involves how mashing everything and everyone together is what happens in an orgy.

      1. This post is making me actually, legitimately defensive for the literal apples that fall to the ground first. Like, firstly I of course totally reject the premise that girls who have a lot of sex are bad people, but then I ALSO reject the premise that the low-hanging fruit is bad.

        In fact, in other, better metaphors the low-hanging fruit is actually a good thing.

        Just lay the fuck off the low-hanging apples, Pete Wentz.

      2. I’d like to belabour this metaphor further: personally I like fresh apples and apple pie and apple cider and applesauce. I just like ALL the apples.

  3. Robert Pattinson didn’t say it either (also seen on my tumblr several times). It gets attributed to whoever is popular at the moment.

    1. hehe, really? I just can’t imagine RPattz getting through something with such incredibly labored metaphors without breaking into laughter!

  4. In another vein I often hear people asking me whether I think this or that person passing by is a girl or a guy. For some reason I always get really large der-in-the-headlights eyes when I respond “Does it matter?” I think this kind of idea confuses them – after all, if they can’t tell then how can they place them on their hierarchical ladder? Labels are stupid, next time I’m just going to tell them I think the person passing is an apple – of course I’ll probably get a less confused look if I do…

    1. Use ‘apple’ for ALL the labels.

      “Is so-and-so straight or gay?” “Apple.”
      “Do you think they’re fat?” “They’re an apple.”
      “He likes to dress up like a girl!” “I like to dress up as apples.”

  5. i agree and love your posts. BUT. i wonder, what do you then think about the saying “boys are like buses – sometimes they are too late, sometimes you have to run after them, sometimes theres a ticket control and sometimes you reach it just fine” (or something like that). because, i am a little confused by my own thoughts – the apple anology is not great. do you find this one problematic objectifying and sexist? i need someone to kind of tell me what to think about it (weird yeah i know but really i cant make up my mind about it!) , and then, who better than you guys. thanks for a great blog! x

  6. I actually never understood this quote because my family owns an organic apple orchard. The apples at the top of the trees are “for the birds” a kind of tithe to the animals for keeping away all the bad bugs. Even if we wanted these apples, by the time harvest comes around they have already been pecked at and rubbed against by all manner of creatures with wings. Beat up and half eaten who would wish to pluck said apples from their place? Not a very honest man, or perhaps a man who pities. But that is not a man of compassion.

  7. a friend posted this quote, and was like, I love this for my girls. So when I first read it, I assumed I would love it for my girls too. But when I actually read it I was like “hmmm, something is not quite right with this” and then I found your article and you expressed exactly the unsettling feeling I had. thank you for writing this.

  8. You are wonderful. I love these posts. All this assumed bullshit I have about things is awful. Sometimes I feel poluted by this culture. Daily, I have to say ‘No, that is not right, don’t ever think like that about people’. It’s difficult to get around these fabricated norms, but you make it easier. Thanks!

  9. Finally, A great article about this nonsense quote. I always find this quote to be extremely sexist. The way the quote implied it sounds like we’re still live in Victorian era

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