Dear me, dear you:
I know you’ve said it before: “I’m not like all the other girls.” And I know that you don’t mean it in the kind of way that just means you’re a little different. I’ve said it more times than I can count, in so many different ways: “I can’t stand other girls, they’re so dramatic,” or “I would never put as much makeup on as that other girl.” There have been countless times where I have put down other girls in order to make myself look or feel better.
Girl on girl violence goes beyond what can be described as typical, troubled teen angst and a desire to belong. If we boil it down, a lot of the insults that we hurl at women are simply for the sake of them being women. I hear it all the time, coming out of the mouths of men and women alike – calling someone a slut, bitch, whore, home-wrecker, or even as simple as reducing women to the sole identity of being sexual or motherly. While in and of itself, being sexual or a maternal figure is not bad, when we try to define other women, we deny them the opportunity to be seen as a human being with different, equally important, facets.
We use excuses like — “oh, she’s bossy, so she must be a bitch” — to justify why we degrade other women. We choose to criticize unique qualities instead of praising assertiveness and decisiveness for the empowering traits they are.
Celebrities nowadays are constantly preaching the power of female friendship, which is definitely important in the context of an increasingly frail social system. Back in July 2015, pop star Taylor Swift took personal offense to a series of tweets rapper Nicki Minaj’s shared on the absence of black stars from award show nominations. In reply, Swift tweeted her offense — ultimately dubbing Minaj as anti-feminist; even though this was not Minaj’s intention at all.Over the last few months other celebrities, like Ariana Grande, Rowan Blanchard and Amandla Stenberg, have spoken out on feminism and the importance of women supporting other women.
But, where we’re starting to see it fray is when we come into feminism intersecting with so many other identities and prejudices: race, transphobia, and sexual orientation play a role in how our individual perspectives are shaped. For instance, I know that I’ve definitely heard women say that male-to-female (transgender) women aren’t really women — and that I’m guilty of having said the exact same thing in the past.
The key here is that while we’re all coming from different places in our education about intersectional feminism, habits can be broken by taking a second to ask a question.
Personally, I’m still struggling not to lose it when a girl says something that I think is blatantly anti-woman. I’m still struggling to re-examine what I say before I say it: am I slinging an insult at someone because I genuinely can’t like that top paired with those shoes, or because she doesn’t fit into the narrative of what I think being a woman entails?
From, a girl
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.