Boy Math vs. Girl Math: The Internet Sensation Explained

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Dec 31, 2023

While there is one definitive way to do math, women have suggested that there is an alternative: “Girl Math.” Funny enough, almost every woman on the internet agrees and has used Girl Math a few times in their lives.

The men have clapped back, stating that they have their version of girl man, cleverly called “Boy Math.” But what do “Girl Math” and “Boy Math” mean? How do they work? Let’s get into it!

What Is Girl Math?

Girl Math is an invented set of “rules” that women refer to justify impulse spending. The internet trend features women joking about internal calculations, or feminine logic, to justify their purchases.

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Woman Holding Books

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For example, if an item is under $5, then it is free. Anything bought with cash is also “free.” If something costs $50 and will be worn more than 10 times, then the item equals out to $5 and is free. Girl Math won’t help you retire, but at least you’ll look cute.

How Did Girl Math Become So Popular?

The delusional logic behind Girl Math started trending in August when a TikTok video from @samjamessssss went viral, according to KnowYourMeme. In the video, the TikTok user proposes that the discourse would shift from “Girl Dinner” to “Girl Math.”

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Woman At Shoe Store

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The joke was embraced by female content creators and commentators quickly. Of course, some took offense to the joke as it reaffirmed an old gender stereotype, but the meme is about butting up against gender norms and the ode to retail therapy.

What Is Boy Math?

Similar to what happened to “Girl Dinner,” men felt left out of the joke and wanted to join in on the internet’s biggest and hottest meme. In September, Boy Math caught on with X users, largely thanks to women pointing out the general hypocrisy and nonsensical “rules” men use.

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Spearheaded by female creators, the meme focuses on the quirks and flaws of men to point out how they take leaps in logic just like women do.

How Does Boy Math Work?

It’s simple. Oftentimes, men will say they are six feet tall when they are 5’10. In a TikTok posted by Ryan Maxwell, where he reacts to Boy Math memes, Boy Math is explained as “being afraid of gold diggers when [men] only have three pairs of socks to [their] name” or “putting on a jersey with a grown man’s name on it every Sunday while mocking the Beyhive,” referring to Beyoncé’s fandom.

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Jessica Palmadessa measuring a man in a green sweatshirt. Right: Palmadessa measuring a man in a black hoodie.

Source: jessicapalmadessa/TikTok

Boy Math is simply a way of explaining men’s lack of logic when they criticize female-driven entertainment or have an inflated sense of self.

Boy Math Becomes Something Far More Serious Than Girl Math

The meme became a political punchline quite quickly. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on X: “Boy math is needing 15 attempts to count the votes correctly to become Speaker and then shutting down the government nine months later.”

Man in White Dress Shirt

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One user even criticized Elon Musk’s purchase of X, formerly Twitter, writing: “Boy math is paying $44 billion for a $25 billion company and, through business smarts and entrepreneurial know-how, turning it into an $8.8 billion company.”

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Boy Math Can Be Used to Point Out Misogyny

Boy Math jokes have evolved to tackle a lot of different aspects of men’s logic in the larger culture. One X user posted a Boy Math joke, writing that “Boy Math is waiting until her 18th birthday,” to justify dating someone underage.

Man Wearing White Dress Shirt With Black Necktie

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Another writes that “Boy Math is wanting 0 children but having 0 [protection] on hand,” which then somehow blames the woman for getting pregnant. As the internet would say: The math isn’t mathing.

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Are We Gendering Math Now?

Gender-specific jokes are not unknown, but women have taken control of what “female-centric” jokes mean in the culture. Rather than having the joke be on them, women are making jokes about the “feminine urge” to exist in the system that largely ignores them.

Black Click Pen on White Paper

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Girl Math and Boy Math are a larger part of gender jokes focused around measly dinners and the glory days of the Roman Empire.

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What Is the Difference Between Girl Math and Boy Math?

The difference between Girl Math and Boy Math is easy to understand if you witnessed the swift death of “Girl Dinner,” a trend that saw women eating snack plates, comfort food, or leftovers as a mean and challenging expectation that women must cook and care for everyone in their household.

Black Calculator Near Ballpoint Pen on White Printed Paper

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Whether it is Girl Math or Boy Math, the joke is a commentary on gender and stereotypes that can reference serious conversations against normalized behaviors that go against the country’s evolving morals.

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Why Did This Internet Trend Start? 

Mary Louise Adams, a sociology expert and associate professor of kinesiology and health studies at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, puts Girl Math and Boy Math into perspective for us. “What I read through this trend is that people still do feel like they live in a profoundly gendered world,” she told CNN via email.

TikTok app loading on a smartphone

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“They assume, and their experience confirms for them, that women and men approach the world from quite different positions,” Louise Adams stated.

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Do Women Need Girl Math? 

From a feminist angle, Louise Adams says that the jokes that rely on the difference between men and women are something that 1970s feminists would have thought we’d be over by now. However, this internet joke shows how much work in gender relationships needs to be done.

Woman Writing On A Whiteboard

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While Girl Math humorously reclaims these stereotypes around women who like to shop, Louise Adams sees what other women in on the joke also see: This is natural bonding through shared identity.

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You Don’t Have to Understand Everything on the Internet 

While Girl Math is a joke meant to bring people with a shared identity together, Boy Math holds a mirror to the irony that men carry in some of their logic. While this does not apply to everyone, the point of the joke is to make sense to those who need it.

Happy multiethnic women having fun while using gadgets in cafeteria

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When it comes to internet jokes, take them with a grain of salt. Not everything is for everyone. Next time, if you don’t get it, you don’t get it. That’s fine. Just don’t try to make a joke that piggybacks off something that started with innocence. Things on the internet can turn ugly fast.

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