Rayne Fisher-Quann is a Gen Z essayist and a feminist intellectual who operates on modern e-newsletter platform Substack under the moniker “Internet Princess.” If you’re even vaguely online or if you care about zeitgeisty microtrends or general girlbossery, you’re likely one of the thousands of people who enjoy Rayne Fisher-Quann’s work. You might enjoy her Substack essays or her TikTok monologues. You might soon enjoy the fruits of her singer-songwriter passion project (Yes, Rayne Fisher-Quann has recorded three-quarters of a concept album she may or may not release in the coming year. No, it’s not a primary concern of hers at the moment). Actually, fans in the coming year will probably start to know her by her forthcoming debut book: Complex Female Character, an essay collection about feminized identity in the perennially disintegrating era of late-stage capitalism. At 22 years old, Fisher-Quann is unrivaled in her ability to elucidate the near-constant and almost hallucinogenic tensions inherent to the modern feminine condition.
There’s a great part in Fisher-Quann’s most recent short story, “Speaking in Cliché,” in which the narrator talks about not having washed her hair for weeks due to mental illness. When she finally goes to a hairdresser, she expects her matted locks to illicit shock. Instead, the hairdresser does not react. The narrator questions: “You don’t even care about me? You don’t even care about me enough to look down on me? What’s wrong with you?” There seems to be a brittle quality to modern womanhood that if gently pressed, will fracture and reveal underneath it a squishy, mucky, real other. The interaction with the hairdresser—the whole story, really—speaks to the feminized tension of needing to be seen and cared about; it is both at odds and working in tandem with a thirst to be understood as a nasty, bloody, fleshy being. “I have always felt like such a gross person. Specifically like such a gross woman. I’ve always found it very interesting to parse through my experience as a woman with also my experience as, like, a gross person... My sadness has always been so explicitly disgusting.”
Fisher-Quann laughs, “I feel like a creature sometimes.” Fisher-Quann’s unique articulation of creaturehood makes her special to her primarily Gen Z female audience. We might compare her to that fictitious hairdresser. She looks at young womanhood squarely and evenly. She plunges her hand into the mucky innards of the most disgustingly secret parts of ourselves and refuses to flinch, refuses to measure womanhood by the modern standards of correctness. She’s written in defense of Amber Heard in the throes of the media spectacle that surrounded her and ex-husband Johnny Depp’s lawsuits. She’s written about the phenomenon of being “woman’d,” a phrase she coined for the ritual idolization and subsequent collective discarding of famous women on a national scale. She’s written about influencer culture and about inequality in age-gap relationships. And she even produces an excellent annual gift guide. If there is ever an appropriate time to use the phrase “Girl’s girl,” Fisher-Quann might be a worthy candidate.
Fisher-Quann thinks a lot about the use of the term “girl.” Or, more broadly, she’s thought carefully about the use of “girlhood” as a conduit through which grown women are discussing their experiences online. She has mixed feelings. “Girlhood is everywhere. It’s being marketed to adult women as something that is purchasable through, like, watching the Barbie movie or through buying Sandy Liang, or through this kind of coquettish fashion commodity moment. Grown women are being sold girlhood online with phrases like ‘I’m just a 25-year-old teenage girl!”’ Fisher-Quann isn’t necessarily against the girlhood jokes. She finds that many of the girlhood memes are satirical play. Largely, the girlhood phenomenon could be boiled down to women seeking autonomy in a society which places virtue in women’s proximity to youth. However, Fisher-Quann does want her young audience to know that aging out of girlhood is, in fact, beautiful. “It’s actually such a privilege to be a woman. It’s such a privilege to grow up.”
Fisher-Quann has grown up quite a bit in the past year, during which she sold Complex Female Character to Knopf and moved to New York City from Canada. She’s been enjoying the New York literary community. She’s been entertained by the New York street rats. Like any 20-something who has recently moved to a new city and is actively experiencing the uncanny, nearly inhuman phenomenon of microcelebrity-dom, Rayne experiences loneliness and sadness, but she actively resists the glamorized “sad girl” label that sometimes befalls her: “I’ve spent so much of my life fighting against the idea that I’m a fundamentally sad or broken person,” she tells me during our call. (Editorial note: almost immediately after our call ended, she tweeted: “just showed up to a magazine interview w my face still swollen from actively sobbing and unfortunately felt soo chic about it.” Proof that you can be chic and sad but the former is absolutely not predicated upon the latter).
Fisher-Quann figures that now that the mid-2010s-era “sad girl” has ebbed from topical conversation, the Violent Rage Girl cometh. She’s been watching female-fronted horror recently. Rape revenge. Slashers. Mermaid Legend. Ms. 45. There’s a “catharsis” in it that’s demonstrable in her writing—she refuses to turn away from the stormy brutality that sublimates womanhood: “Every cloud has a silver lining, but some clouds are mostly silver and others are really just mostly cloud.”
Is this not the experience of being a woman online today? Now, to be online can mean experiencing the joy of reading Rayne Fisher-Quann’s Substack as a teenage girl and to feel comforted by the fact that your grossness isn’t your own in isolation. It can also mean bearing witness to the great democratization of misogyny and violence, encoded into an ever-convoluted algorithm. Perhaps to be online today is to accept that, despite all this performance, a woman won’t ever be truly known. Rayne thinks about that tender grotesqueness of womanhood, how it gets mutilated online, every day. Sometimes, she says, she feels it in her body. “When I really think about it,”—and she does really think about it. She’s made a career of really thinking about it—“I can feel this collective pain, reverberating through my teeth.”
Photographed by Ramona Jingru Wang
Styled by Dy'amond Breedlove
Written by Annie Bush
Makeup: Molly Fredenberg
Producer: Franchesca Baratta