What is girl ethics? The gen Z-improved TikTok version of the girl code

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Oct 15, 2023 at 08:30 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

If you are an engaged netizen, you’ve probably come across the concepts of ‘girl maths’ but what about ‘girl ethics’? This new trend is sweeping through TikTok and has all the girlies posting their own golden rules that they swear by to maintain good friendships. So if you’re not familiar with it yet, here is a detailed breakdown of everything you need to know about girl ethics.

What are girl ethics?

While some just look at it as gen Z’s version of ‘girl code’, others, like yours truly, view girl ethics as a set of behavioural guides and moral codes that encapsulate the essence of modern womanhood: solidarity, support and inclusivity. So without further ado, here are some of the most established girl ethics you need to know:

1. If your best girl is dressing up, so are you! If she is dressing casual, you are dressing casual. You always have to look like you are going to the same event. That’s a non-negotiable.

https://www.tiktok.com/@jinxzpie/video/7284418629632838918

2. If your girls are wearing heels, you are wearing heels. It’s one for all and all for one, okay?

@aliyahwears

I gotchu girlllll 😚💕 #girlmath #girlethics #friendshipthings

♬ suara asli - kimiraikonenπ - Stitchesπ

3. You never go to the bathroom alone. This might actually be the oldest, most well-known rule in the book, and I am sure some of you are tired of hearing it but listen: the bathroom is not only the place we go to to freshen up, it’s where we debrief, re-strategise, and provide each other with essential aid, like a hair tie or the odd emergency tampon. It’s a well-established rule for a reason.

@lavendercashewmilklatte

this is why it’s so fun to have girls in your life who get it and play along #girlethics

♬ original sound - Annelise

4. If your friend is craving a snack or a sweet treat, but can only enjoy it if you are having it too, then you are having a treat, no questions asked.

@ellerasmuss

but girl gotta eat

♬ suara asli - kimiraikonenπ - Stitchesπ

No (wo)man left behind

You’ve probably noticed a common denominator throughout these rules: they are all largely centred around never leaving your girlfriends to fend for themselves.

“Girl ethics mostly revolves around making sure that nobody feels like they’re doing anything alone. If your friend says ‘I really wanna wear a dress to the party but I don’t want to do it alone, will you wear a dress?’ You wear a dress to the party. That’s girl ethics,” TikTok creator Annelise said in a viral video. “Then nobody feels like they’re doing it alone. You feel like you are both in it together. It’s girl ethics. I feel like there are so many things that girls do that are girl ethics and I love all of them.”

Girl code was about restricting, girl ethics are about uplifting

Girl code has always been known as a set of unwritten rules that focuses heavily on female friends in relationship to men. It prohibits the dating of exes, former and current crushes, and communication with an ex-partner after a breakup. While these rules are tried and tested in protecting friendships, they have also been accused of sowing jealousy, discontent and resentment within friend groups rather than promoting mutual empowerment and support. 

They reinforce the archaic ideas that we have ownership over others and that women are in constant competition with each other. Thus, girl code ultimately just served to restrain us and make us ‘non-threatening’ to each other, instead of building us up.

“The girl code narrative leaves little space for friends to have open, honest, empathetic conversations about love,” writer Diyora Shadijanova critiqued in a Cosmopolitan article.

“Not only does this [girl code] remove people’s agency to decide who they do and don’t want to have relationships with, it’s also manipulative and controlling to cut contact between individuals purely because someone feels threatened. Aren’t healthy relationships those where all parties want to be together, regardless of outside influences?” Shadijanova continued.

Enter girl ethics, the non-toxic guide to being a proper girl’s girl created by gen Zers—a girl’s girl is a woman who places female relationships over relationships with men, in case you didn’t know.

Gone are the restrictive and potentially divisive aspects of its predecessor, girl code. The TikTok girlies have chosen to platform the little things that they do to make their friends feel happy and supported. Instead of focusing on don’ts and sacrifices, girl ethics takes a more positive approach by emphasising the uplifting of your friends and protecting their comfort.

While girl ethics are mainly focused on food and clothes at the moment, this trend is still a breath of fresh air because it doesn’t play on outdated notions of ownership and competition. Instead, it highlights what makes friendships great, which is honesty, communication, commitment and reliability.

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