The Internet’s Newest Invention: Gendered Math

Cash and a Chime debit card stick out of the right pocket of a pair of Dickies worker pants. Using cash versus credit cards is at the forefront of the “girl math” conversation, with purchases using cash being considered “free,” according to social media (Photo illustration by Katherine Simpkins).

Have you ever been out shopping and saw something you wanted to purchase – but didn’t know if it was worth it? Girl math can help you make that calculation. 

Girl math has been all over social media recently. TikTok creator and real-estate developer Samantha Jane brought the “Girl Math” concept to TikTok on Sept 2. 

Before girl math, there was the girl dinner trend. Girl dinner is the combination of different foods, not mixed together, that wouldn’t normally be in a meal together. This is in contrast to boy dinner, another Tiktok phenomenon. 

Know Your Meme, a site that records current trends and memes, “much like wikis” via registered user input, documented boy dinner. According to the page last updated by a user named Zach at 5:49 p.m. on July 14, boy dinner includes “meals that are portrayed are often satirically masculine, which often translates to them being low-brow and simple.” 

As popular as boy dinner and girl dinner have been, the new trend taking over TikTok is girl math.

“I know we’ve been talking a lot about girl dinner,” Jane said in the TikTok video. “But I really think we should focus our attention on girl math.”

Girl Math

To Jane, girl math is a “fun logic” that is used to justify purchasing certain things. 

One example of girl math is when one pays cash for something instead of paying by card – because then it’s free. By this logic, you’re not taking money out of your bank account, therefore the money never really existed – meaning what you got was free. 

Maria Heyboer, Grand Rapids sophomore, says she finds girl math a little silly, but still a fun logic to have when paying for things.  

“Yesterday I was with my friends, shopping, and one wanted to pay with cash,” Heyboer said. “They were like, ‘It doesn’t count because it’s cash not card,’ girl math.” 

In a U.S. News article, Spending Coach Paige Pritchard said that the purpose of girl math is to “mathematically justify purchases.” 

It’s a humorous trend making fun of bad math,” Pritchard said in the article. “Though it does describe a very real process used to decide if a purchase is worth the money.”

Another example was given by a social media influencer with the username Invis. She posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, at 12:07 p.m. on Oct. 18 that an example of girl math is “if I don’t spend enough to get free shipping, I’m losing money.” 

Sabrina Fitzgerald, Clarkston senior, said that girl math is used by different people of different genders, but is something that only girls can understand. 

“I feel like it’s making fun of the stereotype that girls can’t do math, leading to a math that only we understand,” Fitzgerald said. 

Since the inception of girl math, more gendered math has risen: Boy math and they/them math. 

Boy Math

In contrast to girl math, boy math deals with units of communication. Content creator Jaylyn Riney explained how she defines boy math in today’s society. 

“Boy math is a man telling you he is going to do something for you. Because he told you about it, in his mind, it equals: he did it,” Riney said in a TikTok video.

However, some people have differing views on what boy math is. Some agree with Riney’s definition, while others, like Tiktok creator Abdullah Zaidi believe it is more along the lines of imagining deadly actions as survivable.

“Boy math is thinking that if you were in a plane crash and you jumped before the plane hit the ground you would be okay,” Zaidi said in the video. 

They/Them Math

 Departing from these non-numeric units, they/them math references actual mathematical concepts.

The definition of they/them math comes from TikTok creator Griffin Maxwell Brooks. Brooks explains why they “no longer have pronouns,” and then proceeds to give a mathematical take on the subject. This is called “Themdas,” which is a play on PEMDAS, an acronym for the order of operations.

With these new trends focusing on ways of thinking attributed to gender, Autumn Robinson, Homer first-year, said people shouldn’t have started gendering math in the first place. 

“I feel like they should have never started gendering it because it was excluding,” Robinson said. “Now they’re trying to make it exclusive – like it should have been in the first place.”

Social media platforms have given each math its own spotlight. Influencers and social media users who explain what each “math” is put their own spin on everyday activities, or create a new way of thinking. 

What will the internet think of next?

About Rhiannon Slotnick 18 Articles
Rhiannon Slotnick is a Junior from Detroit, Michigan. She is double majoring in English Literature Creative Writing and Sociology. She enjoys putting words on to paper for both work and for personal pleasure. If she's not writing, you can find her reading a book or stargazing around campus. You can contact her at rms15@albion.edu

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