From the ages of 10 to 20, I hated women. They were dramatic, manipulative, jealous, mean, obnoxious, annoying—you name it. I tried to be friends with girls, but my deep-seated hatred always prevailed. I was mean. Very very mean. I was so full of hatred for the entire female sex that it was impossible for me to even identify with them. “I just don’t get along with girls,” I concluded, so I’d surround myself with groups of male friends, deep down wishing that I could be male so I could truly be part of the dynamic that they had. “She’s not really a girl. She’s like a guy,” they would say. And I loved it. Even though I felt a clear disconnect, I felt accepted by this superior gender that was free of drama, sensitivity, and cattiness. I wanted no part of the association with evil females.
Even when I went to an all-girls’ boarding school, I still found myself in passionate opposition to feminism. It seemed so stupid and whiny. What I was really thinking was, “If I support this, guys won’t respect me like they do now, and therefore I won’t respect myself.” So I opposed, mocked, and looked down upon anyone who did. I saw them as weak and inferior.
I ended up making some great friends there, but the way I thought about them was still full of prejudice. I prided myself on the fact that we were able to be gross and “act like a group of guy friends.” I loved my friends, and to this day I still consider them my best friends, but I saw them as an exception to the rest of the awful female population. By the end of boarding school, I made friends with a group of great girls, but they were also exceptions in my mind. Males were superior, and because I was always treated like one of the guys, I saw myself as superior, too—but only as long as I wasn’t a girl. Only as long as I wasn’t me.
My freshman year of college, I found myself mostly hanging out with guys once again. I tried to be friends with girls, but I always found reasons to not like them. Deep down, I felt like it was impossible for me to ever be accepted by females. So I stopped trying.
I dated one guy for a year who hated women just like I did. We were both in denial. He made blatantly misogynistic comments regularly, but I only minded if they were directed at me. One time when I was cranky on my period, he screamed at me: “This is why I’ll never hire a woman!” I was angry, but only because I realized that he saw me in the same patronizing way that he (and I) saw every other female. It shook my sense of self that was based on males’ reassurance that I wasn’t like other girls.
In any of my relationships, I put immense pressure on myself to not appear dramatic, crazy, jealous, or any other hateful adjective that I had attached to women. I suppressed my true wants and needs to preserve what little self-esteem I had at the time. I let my boyfriend tell me I was the fattest girl he could ever date, because at least he was honest, and most girls would freak out, and I wasn’t like most girls. I let him tell me that I wouldn’t be financially successful when I was older because he was probably right, and since he was a guy he was smarter and more financially savvy, and he knew better. Eventually, he cheated on me and I dumped him, but that’s for another story.
What was important about this relationship was that it completely eroded what little sense of self that I had worked so hard to cultivate. It devastated me so powerfully that I barely ate or slept for weeks after we broke up. It made me hit rock bottom. As I gradually crawled my way out of the deep hole of depression that I had sunken into for a majority of the relationship, I struggled to understand why I ended up with him, what I was thinking, and most of all, where I’ve been this whole time.
I know it sounds trite that everything goes back to your childhood, but it’s true. I’ll spare you the gory details and get to the point: I was abused by my mother. This was something that I, only now after four years of having no contact with her, have been able to admit to myself. I had repressed my emotions for so long because I saw them as harmful. I didn’t want to be dramatic or pity-seeking. I didn’t want to be crazy or emotional. I didn’t want to lose control. I didn’t want to be anything like her.
All of that anger I had been directing toward half of the human population was really meant for one person: my mother. I thought I had processed everything; I thought I was over it. Meanwhile, years of repressed anger stewed inside of me, seeping out of every pore and manifesting in the form of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, physical illness, and a shitload of misplaced hatred for any female that crossed my path. I had no idea how to be angry at her because the shame and guilt that came with it was too overwhelming. So I directed it elsewhere. I blamed my prejudices on the idea that something was fundamentally wrong with my brain and I was simply unable to like or respect girls. I blamed it on the idea that they were untrustworthy and manipulative. I figured it wasn’t misogynistic because I’m a girl, and I was allowed to hate women because I was one. After beginning the long and difficult path to recovery, I realized that I never actually hated women. I just hated one.
So after ten years of misogyny and self-hate, I am finally able to say that I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be able to stand in solidarity with other females. I am not proud of the way I thought or behaved during that dark period in my life, but I own it. I regret not standing up for women in the past, but I am now ready to do it with passion and sincerity.
To all of the girls that I was ever unnecessarily cruel to: I am so sorry. There is no excuse for that sort of behavior.
To all of the guys (and girls) who make hateful generalizations about women (or any segment of the population, really): I hope one day you are able to find the true source of your hatred, but until then, go fuck yourself.