I’m Just Like the Other Girls, and You Probably Are Too
When I was a little girl, my dreams revolved around living in a big pink mansion, and desperately wanting to be the fourth Powerpuff Girl. Once I turned eight, I had decided that was a rather unrealistic dream so I moved on to a more plausible option – becoming an astronaut.
However, as I stepped foot into my teenage years, the point of plausibility became irrelevant and all I wanted was to not be like the "other girls." Who were these other girls, you ask?
The other girls were the ones who liked pink, who put effort into their looks, the ones who listened to shallow pop songs rather than meaningful and objectively cooler 70s rock music. You see, even though I had convinced myself I was entirely my own person who didn't care for anyone's approval, my heart was polluted by internalised misogyny. I had somehow convinced myself that in order to be taken seriously I had to completely disassociate from anything and everything "girly."
Once I became more aware about feminism, I realised that the sudden change in me was not solely the product of teenage angst – but a systemic process that made me shame myself and other women. Internalised misogyny is just one of the many tools of the patriarchy which makes you think that if you're a woman, your place in this world is so finite that you have to compete, and constantly battle yourself and other women. It manifests as the constant need to nitpick and put down other women for expressing themselves the way they want, or sometimes simply for existing.
The beloved shows and movies we grew up with relentlessly vilified the girls who were hyper-feminine and portrayed them as shallow, cunning or dumb. The shows set them up to the fate of a humiliating loss (read: not being chosen by the male lead) while the "cool girl" who was nonchalant about her appearance was an avid reader and had "masculine" traits such as playing video games, further reinforcing the stereotype.
Even beyond the media, there's the endless stream of seemingly harmless misogynistic jokes, and generalisations at the expense of women in our everyday lives. We are taught that other girls are our competition, instead of being taught how important female friendships and allies are. What's ironic is that to the other girls, you are also one of the other girls. After all, you cannot hate on other women without hating yourself a little bit.
It makes sense that in a world like this, many women are battling their internalised misogyny in some capacity. However, this is exactly where female solidarity comes in – it's the acknowledgement of the oppressive power at play that constantly pits women against each other, keeping them completely blind from the real truth: every woman under the patriarchy is oppressed.
The point of unlearning internalised misogyny isn't to only let yourself enjoy your femininity. It's to just let yourself and other women exist without imposing the same scrutiny that the patriarchy already imposes on us. The "other girls" are every bit as strong, smart, funny, kind, and all the other adjectives I consider myself to be and more. And, most importantly, we are all fighting our own battles in this patriarchal society.
Tasnim has realised her one true passion: marathon napping. Send her words of motivation at email@example.com