Once upon a time, I was the young woman in this cartoon. I was the one that professed to be “not like other girls”. I told anyone who would listen that I preferred men as friends, that I found “other chicks” shallow and boring. My guy friends always told me I was “Cool, not like other chicks.” They said they could hang around me because I didn’t “cause drama” like other women, and that I didn’t take things “so seriously”.
That was partly because I’d been taught that fat women weren’t the same as “normal” women. I believed that I wasn’t included in womanhood, so I figured the best bet was to just join the boys and to turn my nose up at “other chicks”.
Another part was self preservation. As long as the guys liked me, they weren’t calling me a “crazy bitch”, or making fun of me, or treating me like a piece of meat. It was easier to fit in with the guys, than to risk their wrath.
The rest was internalised misogyny. All my life I’ve been told women were lesser beings than men, they weren’t as important or worthy. I was taught that women were overly emotional, too sensitive, irrational, shallow, uninteresting… the list goes on. So I internalised that and spent my time trying to be not like what I had been taught “other girls” were. I didn’t want to be seen as any of those things, so I went along with the guys attitudes and spent my time trying to prove I wasn’t like that.
But then something happened. I disagreed with one of those guys who told me I was “cool, not like other chicks”. He said something hurtful and I told him it was hurtful, and asked him not to do it again. And boy, he and the other guys didn’t like that. Suddenly, I was “just like all those other crazy bitches”. I needed to “calm down” and “stop making drama”. He told me “Everything is about you, making you happy, isn’t it?” Thing is, he wasn’t the only one. Every guy who has ever called me “not like those other chicks” has eventually turned on me when I stood up for myself, or did something they didn’t like. They didn’t just tell me they disagreed with me because of X, instead they implied I was over-sensitive, or irrational, or selfish, or “crazy” (which is ableist as fuck as well as gaslighting).
All those male friends started turning on me. I was getting “too opinionated”. One by one, the minute I disagreed with them on anything, or asked them not to do something that hurt or upset me, they’d decide I was just like other girls, and it was too much effort to have around. Even those I had devoted YEARS to making happy, got pissed the minute I expected to be treated with respect, or asked not to do something that upset me or someone around me. As much as you think you’re playing it safe by being the “cool chick” around guys, they will turn on you the minute you do anything they don’t like.
At the same time this was happening, my self esteem was growing. I started to feel like a worthy human being, who had the right to be treated with respect, and who had needs and wants too. My confidence grew too. Instead of being quiet and “not making a fuss” when I believed something, I spoke up. Instead of backing down at the first sign of resistance, when I believed that something was unfair, or that I deserved better, I stuck to my guns.
As my self esteem and confidence grew, I noticed more and more that guys didn’t like me as much as they used to. I started to question why that was, and I found feminism. I started to understand misogyny and how deeply entrenched it is in our culture. I learnt how many women, as a self preservation method in a misognynist culture, decided to join ‘em because they can’t beat ‘em. That they took those messages that said women were lesser and internalised them, and regurgitated them as “I’m not like that.”
As a result of my growing self esteem and bourgeoning feminism, I realised something incredible… women are awesome! Women are smart, funny, thoughtful, kind, and strong. Women are great to be around. Particularly feminist women, who tend not to talk down to other women, and instead support and build women up. We listen to each other. We don’t dismiss each other’s feelings as being irrational or silly. We don’t let our egos get in the way of admitting we made a mistake, or that we don’t know something. We share.
Consequently, I now find myself with the most amazing women friends. Friends who treat me as their equal. Women who are unbelievably strong and who stand up in the face of a whole lot of bullshit from a society that sees us as lesser beings. Women who value each other. Who support each other while supporting themselves in a lot of ways. I can’t tell you how awesome the women in my life are these days.
I know it feels easier to play along with the guys. To dismiss your feelings as unimportant in the scheme of things, so long as the guys think you’re cool. It’s easy to convince yourself that other women’s feelings are irrational, overly-emotional and silly, and that you’re not like them. I know it’s easy to not make waves, not cause a fuss, don’t “get emotional”. It’s easier to suppress your feelings, to push things down and swallow your words and your emotions than “upset the boys”. You want to see someone “get emotional”? Say “No” to a man. They go from zero to “You fucking bitch.” in seconds.
If a man can’t handle you at what he perceives is your worst, then he doesn’t deserve you at your best.
Let me assure you, articulating your feelings, and expecting to be treated with respect is not causing drama or making a fuss. You have a right to be heard, to express your needs as a human, and to expect the same respect you put out in the world returned to you. Being hurt by someone in your life not speaking up for you, or by expecting you to not speak up for yourself is completely valid. It is not “over sensitive”. You do not have to tolerate cowardly men who would rather be liked by acquaintances than stand up for the women in their lives. You do not have to tolerate cowardly men who see their own comfort levels as more important than your wellbeing. You do not have to tolerate cowardly men who stand over you and bellow their opinions, while they think a woman’s convictions are “selfish”. You do not have to tolerate cowardly men who act like owning up to a mistake is a fate worse than death. You don’t have to put up with these things to prove you are “not like those other chicks”.
I am proud to be a strong, independent woman who stands by her convictions and takes responsibility for her words and actions. A lot of people like to call women like us “bitches”. Well, I’ll leave the response to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler:
I am so thankful for the strong, outspoken women in my life. To every one of you, be you near or far, close friends or fellow feminists, you make me a better person. I’m proud to be “one of those chicks”.