11 Ways to End Girl Hate!
Girl hate is gross.
It really is upsetting to see how often women are viciously critical of other women, whether the criticism is about life choices, profession, make-up application, weight, marriage, or motherhood, women are socialized to keep each other "in line." But in line with what? Check out these 11 tips to help you begin the process of dismantling the assumptions you make about other women and about yourself, so you can do your bit in working towards solidarity and sisterhood.
1. STOP competing with other girls
Women are your friends and contemporaries, not your opponents in some sadistic beauty pageant for male attention. Female friendships provide a level of support and validation that are just not available in male friendships. I mean male friends can be great, but who can understand your problems better than another woman? The more you befriend women, the quicker you'll realize that you’re not competing against other girls; you're on the same team! And on a team, one woman’s victory is a victory for the whole group. If you celebrate the achievements of the women around you, then you can rejoice along with them rather than feel threatened.
2. DON'T be a Special Snowflake™
Special Snowflake™ Syndrome (SSS) is the unfortunate condition whereby a woman thinks that she is somehow different from (and often better than) "other girls." Learn to recognize the symptoms of Special Snowflake™ Syndrome, which typically include phrases such as: “I’m not like other girls!”; “Ugh, other girls/women are so (insert negative trait here)”; “I’m only friends with men!”; “I get along with men so much better!”, etc. There is probably no better example of this than Taylor Swift’s song “You Belong With Me,” in which she says shit like:
She wears high heels, I wear sneakers
She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers
Taylor is delineating between the ditzy cheerleader type and herself, not realizing that in doing so she is both slut-shaming the other girl, as well as asserting her Special Snowflake™ status as being not like other girls.The fact that Taylor is different from the cheerleader apparently makes her think she is more deserving of the guy’s attention. The elements of classic girl hate are all present in this song: slut-shaming, Special Snowflake™ Syndrome, and competing with other women for male attention. Stop, Taylor. Just stop.
3. KNOW that women are not a monolith
The antidote to Special Snowflake™ Syndrome is realizing that women are not all the same! Girls are incredibly and vastly different, just like men are. Ever pondered the fact that men are allowed to be paradoxical and complex, but for some reason women are always classified into certain stereotypes (dumb cheerleader, sexless geek, slut, virgin, mother, crone, the list goes on)? There is not just one way to be a woman; there are myriad, innumerable ways. Whenever you are confronted by stereotypes of what women are or are supposed to be, realize that NO WOMAN IS LIKE THIS. A girl who’s a cheerleader is not a vapid, hollow shell of a person, and a girl who’s geeky can be outgoing, loud, like to have sex, etc. These harmful, misogynistic stereotypes strip us of our complexity and totally fail to represent us for who we are, so leave them behind. Far, far, far behind. The truth is that “other girls” are just like you – nuanced and amazing!
4. STOP slut-shaming
Don't judge other girls by who they do or do not sleep with. Don’t. As Ms. Norbury from Mean Girls once said, “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.” While it does not make it okay for guys to call us sluts and whores (not at ALL), her advice is good – we need to stop criticizing each other! When you call a girl a slut, not only are you asserting your position as a Special Snowflake, you are perpetuating a sexist system whereby women are judged according to how much or how little sex they have, while men are not. A girls’ sex life or lack thereof should never define who she is as a person, nor should it contribute to your overall opinion of her. Again, you aren’t special - a “slut” is simply a woman, just like you. She just happens to have more sex.
5. SUPPORT sex workers
Just because you would not choose sex work does not make it any less valid of a way to earn an income (also, some sex workers are not lucky enough to have a choice in the matter). Sex workers are incredibly marginalized by society and are often vulnerable, especially sex workers who work on the street. Sex workers already suffer incredible violence and discrimination against them at the hands of men (many of whom are their clients), so why would you want to add your vitriol to their already endemic abuse? Sex workers, again, are normal, real women, just like you. You don’t have to be interested in sex work yourself in order to uplift and support other women. We have got to stick together!
6. SUPPORT transgender women
If you, like most of us, have been taught that biological sex and gender identity are the same thing, well I've got news for you: they’re not. Biological sex is simply the genitalia a person is born with, whereas gender identity is their conception of themselves as male, female, or something in between or beyond. Gender and biological sex are a spectrum, and people fall somewhere along that spectrum, rather than being strictly “100% male-male” or “100% female-female.” Trans women, particularly trans women of colour, face alarmingly high rates of violence simply for being who they are (and their abusers are, you guessed it, almost always men). Trans women are real women, just like cheerleaders, just like sex workers, just like those of us who are cisgender (not trans), and trans women deserve the love and respect of sisterhood. Never make “tra**y” jokes or question a trans woman’s legitimacy as a “real” women. The last time I checked my genitals did not define me, and the same goes for trans women!
7. STOP body-shaming
Don’t comment negatively on another woman’s weight, skin, body hair, build, voice, anything. If you do, you are reducing her value to that of her physical appearance, something the media does all the time (seriously, pick up any women’s magazine and count how many times they criticize celebrity muffin top, flab, weight gain, etc). Take a step back and listen to the comments you make about other women. Are they positive, or negative? Do you often criticize women for their physical appearance? Make a decision to stop contributing to body hatred! All women deserve to radically love themselves and their bodies, so let’s support each other and draw attention to our unique beauty instead of being critical. Respect all bodies!
8. COMPLIMENT other women
Only genuinely, of course! A good compliment can brighten anyone’s day, but it also lets the woman you are complimenting know that you are observant and supportive of her. If you see a girl whose sweater you love, whose make-up is on-point, or maybe you just admire her confidence or positive attitude - tell her! Sisterhood is all about complimenting one another and spreading the positive vibes around.
9. STOP calling women "bitchy"
Successful, ambitious, or confident women are not bitchy. Stop yourself before you label a woman as bitchy and think: if a man exhibited the same traits as this woman, would you call him bitchy or bossy? Would you think he were overly selfish or assertive? Or would you in fact applaud his charisma, his strength, and his determination? Women in power are constantly getting flack for displaying “masculine” traits such as assertiveness and aggression, especially if they are in male-dominated environments such as business, academia, or politics. Have you ever been in a situation where you were one of the only women in the room, especially in a professional setting? You probably have some first-hand knowledge of how hard it must be for these women, so why use the same misogynistic language as the men who feel threatened by them? Hillary Clinton, Nicki Minaj, and Lil’ Kim are not bitchy – they are strong, driven women. Remember what I said earlier about celebrating other women's victories? Crack out the streamers and party hats!
10. STOP calling women "ghetto" and "ratchet"
There are serious class and racial implications at play here, and it’s far from an innocent comment. Why should we mock women for not having as much money as we do? For not being white? For not being as educated? Shitting on other women for not meeting your standards of culture or class or aesthetics is not only hurtful, but perpetuates racist and classist notions of which women are deserving of respect and which are not. ALL women deserve respect, and these are slurs that we need to stop using to degrade one another. (Remember what Ms. Norbury said earlier?!)
*NOTE: the exception to this of course is if you are a woman of colour who is reclaiming these terms, in which case, go for it!
11. DO NOT fight over men
Men simply are NOT WORTH IT. Seriously, I promise. Competing for male attention underlies most actions of girl hate, so we need to yank that need for male approval out from the root like a bad tooth. Instead of seeking male validation, dedicate yourself to finding other, self-defined ways to measure your worth and value as an individual. The approval of men will never give you the self-worth or inner confidence that you crave. Men are not worth losing friendships over, and a man is never worth your time if you need to degrade other women to gain his respect or affection. Ultimately, relationships (and men in general!) come and go, but solid female friendships are amazing support systems that can last a lifetime. Apply the “sisters before misters” philosophy to your life and see what happens. You’ll thank me later.
Internalized misogyny is one hell of a thing.
By examining the ways we think, talk, and act towards other women, we can identify the nasty internalized misogyny that lies within ourselves and work to eliminate it with a vengeance (kill it with fire!). Ultimately, radical love and support towards yourself and towards ALL women is the best way for you to do your part in ending girl hate!