So, when I was seventeen, I went to a party. Also in attendance was a boy that I liked (who actually liked me back!), so needless to say, we spent a bit of that little get-together flirting with each other. Nothing major: brief brushes of my skin on his, maybe a couple hugs that went on a few seconds too long to be considered merely "friendly"; all in all it was pretty innocent. Anyone who was keeping an eye on us would have probably noticed, but I figured that everyone else was probably too busy doing their own socializing and didn't care what I was up to.
I was wrong. It didn't even take a full 24 hours for it to get back to me that one of the other girls at this party was having an absolute fit about what a "total slut" I was. I was a "slut", a "whore", a "skank", and I was probably riddled with STDs to boot. She also made a point to talk about how stupid and annoying I was. Here's the real kicker: I'd never talked to this girl. Never in my life. She'd graduated from my high school a couple years ahead of me, so the only time I'd ever been in any sort of close quarters with her was at this party. The only logical conclusion? A boy had been paying special attention to me, and she was mad as hell about it. Naturally, at seventeen, my first reaction was to be outraged, to be hurt, to have angry tears, to rant about what a "crazy bitch" this girl was, and to revel in any nasty things anyone told me about her.
Then, I grew up a little bit. I grew up and I started actually thinking about this all-too-common phenomenon: girl-hate. It's so rampant that it's contributed to the stereotype that all girls are catty and horrible and some of us have started insisting that we're "not like other girls" to separate ourselves from all these generalizations, saying that we'd rather hang out with boys, because "boys have less drama". Here's the thing, though: homogenizing the entire female gender down to one or two negative stereotypes is sexist. When girls perpetuate it, it's called "internalized misogyny". And sadly, I've found that girls are guilty of perpetuating misogyny almost as often as men are.
If we, as a society, would stop conditioning girls and women to feel like we have to constantly compete with each other, girl-hate would pretty much stop. If we, as a society, would stop trying to tell girls and women that the most important thing is male attention, we’d stop feeling threatened by other girls and how they look and we’d stop ripping our fellow ladies to shreds over their appearances. Society has told us that male attention is the ultimate prize and that every other girl in the room is competing for it. It's made us feel that we've "won" if a man thinks we're attractive, so we get angry if another girl in the room might take that away from us. This is about the time we start sizing other ladies up: deciding that she has the better body, but your face is nicer and hopefully that makes up for it. This is about the time you start comparing your hair and your clothes to hers, start looking for every flaw you can possibly find in this human being just because she's there.
We feel that we've "won" if a man thinks we're special. This is part of what contributes to that god-awful "special snowflake" complex that leads many girls to attempt to separate themselves from the rest because they have to be better: if unique and special is what gets attention, then I have to be the most unique and special! Cue loads of posts online by girls who think they're better than other girls because they like staying at home and using the internet more than they like going out and partying. This is the attitude that leads to rubbish like this:
|NEWS FLASH: You don't have to constantly compare yourself to every other girl around you!|
|revised version by popcornmassacre@tumblr|
But I think recognizing this behavior is the first step to overcoming it. I think that once you've become aware that you're only mentally sizing a girl up because she's pretty and confident, you can stop yourself in your tracks. You can take control and not let this nonsense get the better of you. Imagine a world where girl-girl relationships were better, where women could work together for the betterment of their gender instead of hating each other. Imagine walking into a room and not caring who has a nicer butt than you! Viva la revolucion!
Once I embraced the idea that other women are not my natural enemies, my relationships with them improved drastically and so did my confidence in myself. I could focus on my own personal growth rather than stunting that of others. It's a perspective that has lead to me making wonderful, supportive friends who feel the same way. And friends are good, because no one wants to smash the patriarchy alone.