I’m sure a lot of us have had that “I’m not like other girls” mindset. “I like pizza and fart jokes and drinking tea,” we say to ourselves. We’re real.
But what is so wrong with being like other girls? Are women who don’t enjoy pizza or Netflix less “real” or complicated than others? And who determines what “real” means in the first place, and why is it such a desired trait?
Just look at the way we talk about female celebrities and you’ll see that there have been endless women who have been lauded for being “real,” such as Emma Stone or Jennifer Lawrence, the ultimate Real Girl. People fawn over them for being different, relatable and cool.
That’s fine and dandy. But have you ever stopped to wonder why male celebrities aren’t treated the same way? Yes, we drool over guys like Chris Pratt for being down-to-earth and funny (and hot), but don’t we also celebrate men such as Zac Efron, Idris Elba or Leonardo DiCaprio? We appreciate them for a variety of reasons, whether it’s for their talent or just because they’re attractive, but we still don’t hold them to the same standards. They don’t have to make bawdy jokes, show that they’re accessible or talk about their love of junk food in order for us to love them.
We have these standards because we see men as individuals and other women as competitors.
We’ve been conditioned since childhood to believe that one woman’s success is another woman’s failure. When one woman gets the job, another doesn’t. When one woman gets the guy, the other doesn’t. Perhaps many of us have been in situations where we’ve been jealous of another woman and start to pick her apart. “I don’t think she’s that pretty,” or “She’s not that smart,” are phrases that have probably slipped out of our mouths at some point.
Why do we do that to one another? When we’re applying for a job, aren’t we competing with everyone, not just other women? Why even is there this competition?
Two words: Internalized misogyny.
It’s not really our fault. Because whether we were aware of it or not, ever since we were kids, we’ve been taught that being a woman is bad. We’re too emotional, too superficial and too fragile to succeed. We’re not encouraged to pursue fields such as science or engineering because we can’t handle it.
When little girls misbehave, they are punished for not being “ladylike.” But when boys do the same, it’s just “boys being boys.” Has a boy ever been told what they’re doing is not “gentlemanly?” Is that even a thing? (If not, can we start saying that?)
That’s why to get respect, many women think they have to distance themselves from the female gender. They can’t act in a way that’s typically associated with being a woman. We are told that we can’t enjoy healthy food or exercising as it suggests we’re too focused on our weight and that’s vain. We’re not allowed to like makeup because that’s shallow and we’re insecure or hiding something. We can’t like to party because it shows we’re hedonistic and have no goals.
We have to be into things men like because then they’ll actually respect us. We have to like video games, comic books, sex jokes and don’t forget, we can’t be too emotional. Then we’ll become Not Like Other Girls and be actually valued people in the eyes of men. Additionally, even many girls who do like typically “male” things are told that they’re fake gamers or that they like those things to get male attention. We can’t win, can we?
It’s great if you actually appreciate “guy things” like video games, but why are they necessarily “guy things”? They should be everyone’s things (in fact, adult women now make up the largest demographic of gamers). And why is it so bad to be into things that are typically associated with women? Is someone who likes makeup somehow less smart or “real” than you are? How do you know they’re not also a book nerd who loves Harry Potter? So what if they’re not? You cannot define someone’s character by their hobbies.
There is no wrong way to be a woman. We are all real, complex, worthy people who deserve to be treated with respect. It’s time we stop spending all this time tearing one another apart. That shouldn’t be our goal. Instead, our goal should be to criticize and place attention on the misogynistic jerks who perpetuate stereotypical ideas about women and made us “competitors” in the first place: the YouTube video commenters whose only assessment of a woman is about whether she is “fuckable,” your uncle who thinks jokes about women in kitchens are hilarious, and let’s not forget, Donald Trump, whose response to a good question a female journalist posed was that she had “blood coming out of her wherever.”
These are the real villains, not other women.