I would call myself a feminist. I agree with the feminist cause. Sometimes, however, it makes me feel a little hopeless. I feel that the sentiment behind it is completely fair and sound, but I also feel that human nature, and female nature, at this point constantly undermines it. The logic is undeniable. Men and women should be treated as equals. We are human beings after all. And if we are all to be judged, women should be judged on the same basis as men.
Yet, sometimes female behavior gives it serious hang-ups.
That is, we are, most of us, competing for the approval of men, even if it is not direct or apparent to you. Being called “one of the guys” is the equivalent to being accepted as a god. It’s fitting, since man has been the ideal since, well, the dawn of man. We are raised to believe that boys are cool and girls are emotional. In other words, boys are collected, while girls are irrational. Girls are the passion; boys are the logic. Each gender represents a set of characteristics. It just so happens that as a society we have come to value the masculine traits over the feminine ones. You’ve lived it. You catch the drift. And so, girls find themselves under pressure to prove themselves. If they want to be taken seriously they have to prove to everyone else that they do not fit the feminine stereotype. This means distancing themselves from other women.
This is where a lot of my problems with feminism lie. Feminism as a cause is great. Some feminists, however, have got the idea all skewed, like religious radicals. We all know those kinds of feminists — the ones who criticize the rest of the female population for in any way conforming to the female stereotype. This is bad, but that’s obvious. I know that’s not what feminism is about. Feminism is about acceptance. What’s more insidious, however, is the antagonistic behavior of many females no matter if they identify as feminists or not. The competition within girl world makes boy world look like a walk in the park. Girl world is a sort of walk in the park, except you put on a meat suit and fill the parks with wolves. And then you cover yourself in honey and unleash the bees.
Girl world is giving me uncalled for, judgmental relationship advice that I didn’t ask for. It’s throwing me under the bus in front of a group of people — usually as the butt of a joke — and recognizing the underlying, vicious point of a seemingly harmless joke. It’s trying to tarnish my body image. This mostly depends on who you’re friends with. I have many friends who make me feel completely comfortable in my own skin and I know they all support me. They are comfortable with themselves as well, and that’s how we both function. I have other friends that I realize I make feel insecure, and therefore I constantly bare the brunt of their insecurities, which doesn’t make me feel bad as much as it frustrates me and pisses me off.
They are insecure in that they feel that they are not living up to an ideal. Most of the situations in which I have been sneakily attacked without warrant have happened because of a male presence, or have happened when a friend wants to exhibit her know-how in a male dominated field, such as science or business. Or they are instances in which my girl friend wants to show me how much better off, how much more sincere and functional and deep her relationship with her boyfriend is than mine. A lot of time it’s the things they do when they don’t want me to outshine them, not even just in front of males, but just in any social sphere. I’ve been the recipient of some pretty petty behavior, and more backhanded compliments than I can count.
While I sit here having a riot over the travesty that is female relationships, I must admit that I’ve never become close with any other male besides guys that I’ve been seeing romantically. I have good guy friend relationships, but none that can compete with my female relationships — so while some of them may be a little twisted with implications, female relationships are still my best and closest ones. The exception would be my boyfriend, who I consulted about this issue. I explained to him that I felt that some of my friends were manipulative to the point of psychopathy, and asked if he’d ever experienced that. Of course the answer was no and that he judges a good friend on whether or not they would return a favor or help him in a sticky situation. The tricky thing is that I know my friends would help me, but I’m not sure if some of them would do it out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s just the feeling that something isn’t right. My girl friend and I smile and laugh together, but why do I get this sneaking suspicion that sometimes she imagines bashing my skull in? It could also be possible that I am friends with a few psychopaths.
My boyfriend is in a fraternity as well. I’m not involved in Greek life. I asked him about his mixing with sororities and how he likes his sister sorority, and he’s told me that most of the girls are just “bitchy”. He could be saying that to appease me, but there is the stereotype that sorority girls are bitches, right?
And I think, fair enough. People call girls catty and petty, shallow and backstabbing, and it’s true that many of them are.
It happens for a reason though. I wonder if the sorority girls would all still be alleged bitches if they weren’t all, on some level, competing for the approval of a fraternity and the male community — or if sororities were ranked by intelligence and wit rather than beauty and poise and the ability to shotgun a beer in their grandmother’s pearls. What would happen if all females were comfortable where they stood? Not fighting to reach a standard set by males, but reaching for their own standard. And not just comfortable, but confident. And not confident in just themselves, confident in the female gender and what that gender may or may not represent.
I feel like females see themselves in the context of men. Men, on the other hand, see only themselves because they’ve already met the standard. Jealousy is correlated with how confident you are in yourself. A confident person will not be jealous of someone because they believe they already possess most of what they want or need. People call females jealous and catty, and given the fact that as a gender we’re overtly sexualized, not taken seriously, and are brushed off, we might get a little jealous of a girl deemed more boy-worthy than us. This could be the girl who is “one of the boys”. This could be the girl who is confident in herself and therefore carries a more masculine air. This could be the girl who is being flirted with at the bar. It could be the gorgeous girl who walked in the room who is immediately labeled a slut by the other women. It will be the girl who succeeds in the workplace. Females will put other females down for want of the other’s desirable qualities.
We see girls who fit the ideal mold and we try and pry them out, if not to take their place, but to make sure that if we aren’t in that mold, then no one else is either.
I’m very proud to be a woman. I recognize all of the most wonderful qualities in women. All of my most trusted and coveted friends are women. I do, however, understand the frustration women have with other women, and I understand wanting to distance yourself from womankind. Females are hard to trust sometimes. We are a sisterhood in that we coexist, not in that we are all actually rooting for each other. We fight for our rights, but in the end we aren’t even on our own team.
Denouncing femininity is entirely counterproductive, and I think that is the very root of the problem. The problem isn’t even just something as caustic as a backhanded compliment. It is also the idea that you as a female don’t fit in with other females, putting yourself on some sort of pedestal. But that’s who we’re supposed to want to be. We’re supposed to want to be a rung above females. It is the root of the jealousy, and the backhanded compliments, and the backstabbing that occurs in girl world. We have to clamor over ourselves in order to be recognized. It’s a dog eat dog world, and we are it’s starving, scavenging bitches.
The only solution really would be to change an entire way of thinking, and that’s impossible to do overnight. I wish we could get to a point where equality was not just a law, but a state of mind. There will always be prejudices however, and those prejudices will continue to affect to psyche of the prejudged.