"I'm Not Like Other Girls" and How Women Help Contribute to Sexism // Kristen Anna
A few months ago, my roommate started seeing a new guy. She was immediately infatuated, so unfortunately I was the recipient of constant conversations about him. One of the things that caught my attention was when she said, "He likes me because I'm not like other girls." Being the mildly confrontational person that I am, I immediately asked her, "What's wrong with other girls?" Apparently, she believed herself to be better because she wasn't as high maintenance as others, (examples being that she didn't shower everyday or worry about makeup).
She also described to me in detail that this boy liked her better because she wasn't like all of his "crazy ex-girlfriends." To me, that sounded like a red flag, but to her it was a compliment. I asked her, "Why were all his girlfriends crazy?" She said they were crazy because they were high maintenance and didn't laugh at his jokes (which I learned were highly racist and sexist). She, unlike these apparently crazy girls, was a "cool" girl.
This immediately struck a chord with me. I think most girls at some point have had this experience of trying to be the "cool girl." We all were willing to impress a guy by hanging out with his friends, drinking beer, playing video games, and laughing at their jokes insulting women. We called other girls things like bitch, needy, crazy, prude, etc. if it meant separating ourselves from them. And this is a serious problem.
Why do we as women try to separate ourselves from other women? It's internalized sexism. Women have been taught since a young age that their worth is based solely on a man's perception and acceptance of her. We see it in the media all the time; the heroine in a story is "not like other girls" because she's quirky or a tomboy or thinks women are too emotional and men make better friends. Many women in our society still struggle with the need to be this girl. We try to distance ourselves from other women, even throwing other women under the bus in order to win the affections of a man.
Therefore, feminism cannot solely focus on educating and changing the opinions of men; it has to change the ideas of women as well. All people have been shaped and affected by the gender stratification in our society, whether seen in obvious acts of sexism or in more subtle ways, like what my roommate was saying. Oppression of gender comes in many forms, and we as women have helped contribute to our own oppression. In order to change this, we will have to change society completely, which will be no easy task. I hope we can begin making changes by teaching more women that they are the sole proprietors of their own worth, and that women should support each other instead of hurting each other.
As for my roommate, after a couple of months of sleeping together, the boy stopped talking to her, except for a one word text ending the relationship after she asked him what had happened. She was devastated. She tried so hard to be the "cool girl"- she kept things casual even though she wanted a relationship, she tried not to be needy, and yet she probably just became another "crazy ex" in this boy's life. While I don't know if I can convince her to be an feminist yet, I hope she will be able to start recognizing her own self-worth.
Written by Kristen Anna