Women, Competition, and Sisterhood

“I like to hang out with guys more than girls. Girls are just…you know…”

“I’m one of the guys.”

“I’m not like other girls.”

I’m ashamed to say that I have used each one of those sentences some time in my life. I usually included it in the same conversation as “Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to ever vote. I mean, my vote will just be the same as my husband’s so who cares?”

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Yes, I was quite the piece of work in high school. In the last few years, I matured and learned what those statements were actually saying:

“There’s something inherently wrong with being female and therefore I will distance myself from that as much as I can.”

But where did I get that idea?

Our world doesn’t value women. It’s easy to see. From insults like “throws like a girl” to the gender pay gap, we just aren’t considered as valuable as our male counterparts. As interested as I am in that subject, I’m no scholar so I won’t get too much into it. Even if you don’t think that I’m right, I want you to think back into your past to see if there were ever a time that you felt limited by being a girl.

For me, I desperately wanted to be a pilot like one of my uncles. Some kids want to be doctors or rock stars (I wanted that one too) or optometrists, I wanted to fly. Until I learned that piloting was for boys. Girls are flight attendants. Besides, science isn’t a feminine art. So I dropped it.

Why are some things for boys and not for girls? Because girls are petty, unreliable, emotional, illogical, irrational, uncooperative hens. And we have periods, which is apparently the scariest thing in the whole, entire world.

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Hell, even douche-y politicians are afraid.

All in all, the stereotype about women is that we just aren’t capable. Goodness gracious, me? Make a decision? All by myself? Heavens, no!

Gag.

There are a lot of dangers to this thinking. We get less opportunities, have less representation almost anywhere, and we are left out of conversations that strictly belong to us (birth control, anyone?). We are routinely ignored, even more so if you happen to be a woman of color or part of the LGBT community. If we are raped or sexually assaulted, we are more likely to be on trial instead of our attacker. Statements like the one below (from a judge no less) are examples of exactly what happens when women have no value in society:

But I’m not going to go into that particular can of beans today because I carry too much anger in that subject to talk about it more fully. (Quick note, “I have a firm understanding”? Yeah right.)

What I really want to talk about is our reaction as women. You’d think we’d rally together and say, “No! Enough is enough! We are just as valuable, just as capable, just as human as men!”

But we don’t. We subscribe to the same thinking. We don’t like working in offices full of women because we believe what we are told about ourselves. We buy tickets to movies where the entire plot of the movie is about mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws hating each other. We don’t mind not having more than one woman in our books, movies, television shows, and video games because there’d be too much drama. We criticize other women every chance we get on things that we have no business with (how she mothers, how she dresses, what she does with her time). We believe this nonsense.

But we don’t have to!

We can bond together (not against the patriarchy, I mean, unless you want to. Then, hey, send me an invite). We can refuse to believe what society says we are and we can refuse to treat other women in that same fashion. We can encourage, praise, and support each other. We can buy tickets or copies of media that shows well-rounded women. We can defend women who are being victimized. We can refuse to compete with one another. We can show each other that we are in this together.

I’m going to tell you from experience that it’s not easy. It’s hard to rewire your brain after you’ve been living one way since childhood. But I read somewhere that the first thought that comes to your brain in reaction to someone else is what you’ve been taught to think. The second thought defines who you are.

So if you see a girl in short-shorts or a hijab or something that you don’t wear yourself or you think is unflattering, instead of internally rolling your eyes or thinking something negative, skip to the second thought. Be happy she likes her body. Be proud that she stands up for what she believes in. Whatever you do, try to think positively. Because we have enough out there trying to tell us that we aren’t enough.

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