From a feminist perspective, it’s easy to assume that the biggest threat to gender equality is men. But it’s not. What if we over simplify the way we view gender politics? What if it’s possible that women do things to each other that contribute to their own oppression?
Misogyny is not perpetuated by the male gender alone. Women can be misogynistic too, and in ways that are not immediately obvious. One of the ways is “slut shaming” — the premise of which is rooted in the fact that women should not claim agency over their bodies. When a woman judges another woman for her perceived promiscuity, she’s supporting the fact that many people think that a woman’s body can be controlled by societal norm in a way that a man’s simply never will be.
When a girl claims to “not be like other girls,” she’s doing the same thing. She does this to point out that girls as a whole are flawed, and she exhibits traits that demonstrate why she is not flawed. Usually this is followed with her being somebody that does something extra “cool” such as shotgunning a beer, being okay with casual sex, or liking sports — all of which are traditionally “masculine” things. Comments like this that reject female stereotypes, especially when coming from women, are harmful because they communicate that there is something wrong with being a woman, and desirable about being a man. And when we do this, we’re showing men that it’s okay for them to say things like this about us, too.
When we, as women, perpetuate the negative stereotype that women are petty and two-faced by talking about each other behind each other’s backs, we are delegitimizing ourselves. When we make hateful comments about each other, we are following in the footsteps of the patriarchal norms established for us that women all over the world have been risking their lives to change.
What does more productive feminism look like? It’s not making a comment that disses all female professors for being more strict than men because they are “overcompensating” for not being taken seriously. It’s asking a woman about her own goals, rather than when she’s planning to have kids. It’s not judging a woman who posts a lot of selfies online and calling her self-absorbed. It’s not rolling your eyes when there’s a girl in your class who raises her hand five times an hour and calling her a “try hard.” It’s not calling an assertive woman a “bitch” because she threatens you.
My list could go on. Statistics have proven that there is not a singular global demographic that is more oppressed than the female gender, and the values in America, and globally, were built upon the idea of women being less valuable than men. This is in our very roots as a country.
It’s more important every day that women learn to stop trying to play the “cool” girl, and start playing the “nice” girl.