1. Being proud of “not being like other girls.”
Those pesky other girls. They are always wearing make-up, except they never do. They always gossip, but they are also always discussing the recurrent themes in Joyce’s work. They are always listening to Ke$ha… And Schubert. They listen to both simultaneously. They are always having beer, except they never have beer and they prefer kale juice instead. They always dress demurely, except when they are wearing super short skirts and tops that show cleavage. See how difficult it actually is to attribute the exact same traits to roughly half of the entire world population? I know that the premise itself of this listicle is attempting to do just that, but I hope that my message to stop categorizing girls as one homogeneous entity will excuse my faux pas.
The thing about saying you aren’t like “other girls” is that it speaks volumes about you, and it isn’t saying nice things. On the one hand, yes, of course you aren’t like other girls – you aren’t like anyone else in the planet, you’re uniquely you. On the other hand, do you really think you are that special? You only have access to a small sample of the entire female population, and yes, maybe the twenty or so girls you interact with everyday really are your polar opposites, but that doesn’t mean that someone (maybe in Seattle, maybe in a small town in Ireland) doesn’t share many of your characteristics while also being female. Taking pride in “not being like other girls,” then, is saying that you aren’t worldly and you lack more of an understanding of human nature. It is also saying you are a bit snobby and maybe a little misogynous too. What is so wrong about being like other girls? Is femininity by itself something negative we should avoid at all costs?
2. Being proud of not having female friends and only getting along with “the guys.”
So you’re a tomboy who gets along with “the guys” just as if you were a guy yourself. Good for you. Do what makes you happy. But that isn’t an excuse for not having one single female friend. Crossing off an entire gender as potential buddies is extremely narrow-minded and just plain dumb. You’re missing out on a lot of fun only because of a ridiculous preference you have.
“But girls are catty” you may say “they are always backstabbing each other! I really could use a bit less drama in my life.” Well, firstly, guys can be super catty and petty too, so get over yourself. Secondly, I said be friends with a girl, not be friends with a drama queen who isn’t really your friend but your frenemy. What did I just tell you about not acting like every girl is the same? Women can be proper adults with a minimum of maturity, you know. I have tons of female friends that act like proper grown-ass women in their relationships with other females to prove it.
3. Acting like/saying that “every man is the same!”
I have to admit I have been tempted to say this time and time again, but I always bite my tongue. Do you want to know why? Because just as women are not all the same, men are not all the same, either. Perhaps with your little sample of the male population this is hard to believe, but not all men are entitled assholes. Some of them are very decent, indeed. A few are not only decent, but an actual pleasure to have around. Are you going to be so narrow-minded as to insult these poor outstanding men that have done nothing to you?
This also applies to not trusting your new significant other because your ex cheated on you or broke your trust in any other way. I know it takes work to properly internalize this (I speak from experience here) but your new boyfriend is NOT your ex. He’s a different person. He was raised differently, thinks differently and therefore behaves differently just because he’s another person. So move on from the past, open a new chapter in your life and give this guy a chance, especially if there are no red flags that suggest you shouldn’t.
4. Reacting negatively when another woman is prettier or more successful than us.
It saddens me to no end that a lot of us love to do down our peers if they seem to be having a better time than us. The thing about us (every single one of us) is that we are all able to be happy. The fact that someone else is doesn’t take that away from us. There’s enough happiness for everyone! Really! Nothing is going to change that. The fact that another girl has is dating your ex, has the job you want or has better hair shouldn’t be seen as a threat to your happiness, because it really isn’t. If a girl is dating the ex you still love or has the only post in the world that you could wish for, the universe isn’t telling you to give up on life and spend the rest of your days wallowing in bed with a pint of ice cream. It’s simply telling you to move on, get creative and find another ways to be happy, or it’s simply telling you “not now, now is the time to explore other areas of life and grow.”
And you should totally befriend the girl with better hair because… Free beauty tips! We could all do with a bit less negativity in our lives, so let’s stop unnecessarily hating on other women, shall we?
5. Never making the first move.
Passivity is comfortable. It is super easy to stare at the guy you like from the other side of the room and bat your eyelashes until he finally musters up the courage to come talk to you. And sometimes you will find love by being passive. But sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you’ll have to work for it. Sometimes you’ll fall for a guy that is oblivious to your flirting and you’ll actually have to get up the nerve to ask him out.
What’s the worst that could happen? That you get rejected? I’ve been rejected a few times and it hasn’t killed me. I know that I am desirable woman. I also know that some people won’t see it that way, and that’s okay, because it also means that some other people will. Subjectivity is okay, because objectively I am not perfect, and if the chance of someone liking me (flaws and all) didn’t exist, well, then I should turn into a flawless cyborg ASAP, and who has time to do that?
6. Falling for guys that show us little to no respect.
This is one I personally don’t understand. I have been bullied enough when I was a teen to want the bullying now that I am a young adult. I pride myself in liking gentlemen that give me the respect I deserve. But so many women fall for the negging, the patronizing, the jerky and entitled behaviors and the possibility of a new project. Many women fall for the deeply flawed men that (they think) they will be able to change.
Honey, not only will you be unable to change him, you have better things to do with your precious time than reforming a guy when his parents should have tried harder twenty years ago. Save your time and don’t waste your pain. Go for the guy that is already a mature adult that respects you. Let’s make respect and gentlemen sexy again! We owe it to ourselves.
7. Making a big deal out of whether or not we’re single.
So you’re single? So what! So you have a boyfriend/fiancé/husband? Well, good for you, but that doesn’t really make you any better than your single counterparts.
In our culture, we always talk about people who are coupled up (especially women) as some sort of advanced beings that have overcome a lot of struggles in order to have their shit together and love themselves so they could have a relationship. Well, of course that overcoming obstacles, having your shit together and loving yourself help in the realm of relationships – they help you build a long term healthy relationship. But not all of the relationships and marriages around you are healthy. A lot of people who haven’t learnt from their mistakes, a lot of people whose life is a mess, a lot of people who are super insecure still get into relationships and they still get married. And sometimes these relationships are unhealthy, just like sometimes they manage to build loving, satisfactory relationships in spite of everything else.
Do you know why? Luck. They were lucky enough to find someone they clicked with and that could love them, flaws and all. And luck doesn’t make a person better than the rest, just like other lucky occurrences like being born rich or being famous don’t make you any better than the rest of the world. And, believe it or not, single people can have fulfilling lives too. They may not have found love, but sometimes they have found their true calling already. Maybe they already have a soulmate in the form of a trusted friend or a family member. Single doesn’t have to mean miserable, and being single is certainly better than being in an unhealthy relationship.
8. Being afraid of describing ourselves as feminists because we’re afraid that, by doing so, we’ll attract less men.
I am a feminist and I am loud and proud about it. I write paragraph-length Facebook statuses about things like building a culture of consent or stopping slut-shaming and talk about feminist issues to anyone who’ll listen. My friends and acquaintances identify me as a feminist just as much as they recognize me as a brunette. And I’ve managed to date quite a bit and I had a couple of serious boyfriends. They have all respected my views, and if they hadn’t, well, I wouldn’t have dated them in the first place.
Caitlin Moran has expressed herself so well on this issue that I’ll just quote her:
“These days, however, I am much calmer — since I realized that it’s technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on women’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game – before going back to quick-liming the dunny. This is why those female columnists in the Daily Mail — giving daily wail against feminism — amuse me. They paid you £1,600 for that, dear, I think. And I bet it’s going in your bank account, and not your husband’s. The more women argue loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard-won privileges.”
9. Being obsessed about how many men like or don’t like us.
What if I told you that you don’t need anyone else’s approval but your own in order to be happy? Do you know how many people have to believe you’re hot, worthwhile and dateable so that you can find happiness? One – more specifically, you. If someone else wants to join in, then you’ll welcome them. But you only need your own good opinion. So if you don’t really like to wear make-up or straighten your hair, then don’t do it. If you cringe everytime you dumb yourself down because that gets you more dates, then stop dumbing yourself down and show your true nerdy self. Don’t change your appearance or personality to please anyone else but yourself.
10. Expecting men to pay, always.
Always offer to pay once the date is over. If the man truly wants to treat you, then gracefully accept, but if you’re seriously interested in this guy as a friend or lover, then make sure to treat him in another occasion. Don’t put out if you don’t want to – No amount of dinners and fancy wine you should buy your consent if it’s not already there. But make sure to do something nice for this person who’s repeatedly doing nice stuff for you. He doesn’t have to, you know. If he’s treating you, it’s because he wants to. So pay for the second, fourth or fifteenth date. If he invites you to his place, bring some yummy takeout to share. If he’s interested in reading a book or watch a movie and you own a copy of said book or movie, consider lending it to him. Don’t always be in the receiving end – Give to the people you care about, too. It’s only the decent thing to do.
11. Changing our last names after marriage.
Seriously, women. We should really end that ancient and sexist tradition for good. Do whatever you want with your children’s last names, but don’t change a whole half of your name – your identity – just because you’re someone’s wife now. You are no one’s possession.
“But we want to be a family” you may say “and a family shares a last name.” A family doesn’t have to be defined by a shared last name, in fact, a family is so much more than that. A family is a project founded on love, and love is what sustains it, not a meaningless shared set of syllables and letters. If you really have to add your husband’s last name to your identity, then at least don’t dispose with your last name entirely but go for a hyphenated one, maybe?
12. Not responding with an enthusiastic “YES!” to sex with guys we actually want to have sex with.
We don’t want to be perceived as sluts, so, for many of us, sex is this thing that has to be kept under wraps. But in order to end rape culture, our “Yes!” has to be as clearly recognized and articulated as our “No.” So don’t be afraid to be very vocal with your sexual partners and express how happy you are to be having the opportunity of sharing a bed with them. By doing so, you’ll be doing every woman a favor.
13. Letting other people decide for us about matters such as how we should dress or what to do with our bodies. Or letting other people decide for us, period.
In some parts of the world, some white, middle-aged men are having discussions about how we should control fertility and what to do with our bodies, and they are not including us in the discussion. This should enrage you and act you to move. This girl was kicked out of her prom because she was “putting impure thoughts in the minds of men” just because she was dressed provocatively. Why do we let this happen?
Don’t let anyone else decide for you. Don’t let anyone tell you how to dress or how to act (as long as you aren’t harming anyone, of course). Don’t let other people tell you what to do with your body. Fight for women to have more representation in politics. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do – Not even me. If you decide to disregard this listicle as an act of freedom and personal agency, then, by all means, disregard it. We women have had enough, we need to start being the masters of our own lives. It’s about time.
[Note: I apologize for the heteronormativity of this article, I only speak from my limited experience. If you are a lesbian, bisexual, asexual or have any other sexual orientation, feel free to add items to this list that are specific to you in the comments.]