Let’s Normalize Girls Supporting Girls

By: Ibnat Islam
Expectations weigh heavily on the lives of girls every day. They have the power to dictate our thoughts, actions, and personalities.  For girls living in Western societies, there are pressures to compete with one another, leave each other to fend for themselves in situations calling for unity, and to be ignorant of the way the patriarchy pits us against each other.  In the Victorian ages, relationships between women were seen as prerequisites for marriage. All throughout history women have lived with stereotypes degrading their relationships into nothing more than a ticking time bomb; there was only so much time left until the “mutual animosity” would come to destroy their companionship. For the longest time, the only love that could succeed in a female friendship was the love for drama. Many of these stereotypes stem from a media eager to feed into the minds of its consumers, telling them that women couldn’t possibly have a sincere platonic love for one another, turning our friendships into caricatures of dramatic T.V shows. Many of us have taken these to heart, and applied them to our lives assuming that there really can’t be room for too many successful women who help each other prosper and grow. As feminism continues becoming more strongly embedded into our societies against forces and systems intent on keeping us down, it is important for girls to look to each other as supporters of one another rather than competition.

The Mean Girl and Your Crush
Girl on girl hate has become a routine part of Western culture. From the dawn of modern day chick flicks, young girls have been consuming media which tells them their stories will always consist of a stereotypical “mean girl” who, no matter what the circumstances are, exists in your life only to taunt you. You watch these movies and shows and see that the “mean girl” always looks the same; clean, sleek hair, a clear complexion loaded with makeup and an outfit that seems a little too put together. When your crush tells you you’re “not like other girls” you’re meant to be swept off your feet, grateful to be put on a pedestal for your inherent superiority. A girl walks by you and you can’t help but go Fashion Police on her outfit, scrutinizing every aspect of her demeanour until the only part of her guarded from judgemental inspection is what’s on her inside (even though that should be the only aspect of her that matters). Not to mention, your thoughts on her are regulated by the patriarchal expectations of what a girl should be; is she too slutty? Too much of prude? She’s basically a cake-face, so she must be fake!

The embedment of these various microagressions have altered the way our societies teach girls to treat each other. We take one another for our face value, weighing our worth by the way we look. A short skirt is a slutty air head, a hijab is an anti-feminist symbol of oppression, so on and so forth. Another girl can never be better than you, and when she seems to be, she becomes your worst enemy. It seems a never-ending cycle of hatred and superficiality has nourished this form of systematic sexism.

How the Patriarchy Fuels Internalized Misogyny
While watching The Mindy Project the other day (spoiler alert for those who haven’t watched season 5 yet!), an episode in which Mindy’s gynaecology office was intent on hiring another female doctor, the audience saw Mindy go from absolute repulsion at this idea, to learning the ways of systematic sexism enforced by the patriarchy. In a strong monologue near the end of the enlightening episode, Mindy says to her staff that all she’s known was to hate on other girls, and that the patriarchy is what has motivated girls being pitted against each other. The episode reflects the more complex reality of internalized misogyny.

What Happens When Women Team Up
With Hollywood’s recent influx of sexual misconduct allegations, over 300 women from the entertainment industry have come together to create the movement, Time’s Up. It is a form of an established group of women supporting women, uplifting each other, and allowing each other’s voices to be heard loud and clear through a society that is so quick to shut us down and pit us against each other.

We’re All in This Fight Together
It’s important for girls to realize that we face similar struggles. You don’t like being judged? Neither does the girl you judged yesterday at the mall. You want to be the best at whatever you do? So does she. Instead of contributing to the repetition of this vicious cycle of internalized misogyny and hate, let us rejoice and support each other. You don’t have to be her best friend, but you also don’t have to hate her for no reason. She is your sister in this fight against the patriarchy.

The Real World
The real world doesn’t make it easy for girls to succeed the way our male counterparts do. Men sit at the top of the big corporations that produce the movies that tell you to hate the girl sitting three seats away from you in your history class. They’ll sit back and laugh when you fight with your friend, regarding it as a silly little catfight. In this world we are made to hate each other, despite being excluded and undermined and ignored all the same for years. Hating each other will not lead to our success. What is your success as a woman if you choose to disassociate yourself from your gender, from the millions of other women who have faced the struggles you have and who share the same goals as you? To the eyes of the powerful, marginalized groups are all the same; sensitive snowflakes waiting to be pitied. The success of one of us means nothing to them until we bring each other to the top. The power of unity holds the strength to defy the patriarchy and the systems put in place to keep us down.
So, the next time a boy tells you you’re “not like other girls” laugh a little at this utter, all-too-typical nonsense, tell him you are like other girls; powerful warriors who, for centuries, have fought systems intent on bringing them down, queens who have succeeded in excellence despite innumerable barriers, fighters who have never backed down because they have too much faith in who we are: we are women, we are girls, we are powerful and resilient. And with each other, we are a force to be reckoned with.



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