"She's a slut." "Have you seen her new photo? Selfie, again.""Omg, her jeans are way to tight." "She's anyways not smart enough. I will get the job." "That boy? He's not into someone like her, please." Have you ever heard sentences like that, or even said them yourself?
Throughout my life, I've met very different women. The ones who are standing next to you no matter what, love you for who you are including all your weaknesses and flaws, who push you to achieve your goals, over to the ones who compete at work and try to stab your back, the ones who are filled with insecurity and thrive to receive compliments and attention, particular from men.
In my teenager world there used to be no extreme form of girl hate, at least not within my circle of friends. I was lucky to be surrounded by girls who cherished their friends. There have been fights and problems, sure. Two girls who've been into the same guy or just not getting along on a certain subject. Still we knew that we girls were stronger together. We've been honest, and kept the basic rule: sisters before misters. At school or outside of my friends circle, I experienced more issues between girls (the same as they also happened between boys), and here I was even taking part in gossip or felt this uncomfortable feeling of jealousy coming up, yet when I got older I learned from it and understood the magnitude of this behaviour. Later on in my life I met a new breed of women, here this wasn't about those teenage struggles anymore, the whole "friendship" was build upon insecurity, competition and jealousy: The girl hate version.
Girl-on-girl hate. A long story.
To be clear, jealousy, insecurities and competition between men exist as well. Also between men and women. They're genderless. What we address here is a certain form of jealousy and competition created within the female population. One which is about slut-shaming, talking down and getting really nasty à la Mean Girls.
Think about it. While being busy struggling with girl-on-girl hate, we women are distracted from the real problems we're facing such as violence committed by men. Back in early 20th Century, cultural critic H. L. Mencken who implied that when women hate each other it entitles men to hate women, too, defining a misogynist as "a man who hates women as much as women hate one another.“ So, girl hate is internalized misogyny giving men the okay to hate us women.
Getting to present times, Caroline Heldman explains in her TEDxYouth talk about the phenomenon of self-objectification whereby we women view our bodies as sex objects seeing the male attention as the ultimate triumph. And here starts the problem. We educate girls from a young age to aspire sexual attention by men and marriage as the dream of every girl. That's why the origin of girl hate emerges from our culture, and is unnatural to the actual bonding between women. In the end, we create culture and culture doesn't create us. That's why it's time that we women take the power back in our hands and break the cycle of girl hate.
Bye girl hate, hello sisterhood.
Let's be clear, another girl isn't taking anything away from you. Mostly it makes you even more beautiful when you cherish this girl, her glow becomes your glow. We women, we've been taught to compete for the wrong reasons. For men, attention, love. When we understand that all of this is a culturally constructed non-sense, that we need to challenge our own insecurities and fears, then we can rise by lifting each other. And finally, come further in our aim towards equality in the society.
It took me time to realize that you can work on yourself only to a certain level. When another girl doesn't realize the extend of her behaviour and its importance to change it and the friendship is filled with jealousy, competition and all other negative vibes, then it's not up on you to keep up with it. Look for the sisters who are not constantly talking about appearance, lie behind your back, seek for the attention of men or trying to show off. There will be women you can bond with, and who are sharing your believes and interests.
As a reminder for the importance of sisterhood, here a few benefits to bond with other women:
Together your are stronger
More women, more power. Every fourth woman in Germany has experienced once in her life time domestic sexual or physical violence. Many women don't speak up, and here's where a sisterhood might help. Look at the #metoo movement as key example.
Isn't it just amazing to see the positive energy of someone else and instead of feeling threatened, you try to learn from her? Appreciate the skills of other women, and grow through them.
Imagine you loose your job. Or your partner. Imagine you need financial support or a shoulder to cry on. A sisterhood implies having a sister. She's your extended family and can offer your the support you really need in this moment.
Imagine your worst fears. The things you would like to share, but are scared for the judgemental look of the person infront of you. A sister won't do that. She gives you the comfort and listens. All those secrets, dark thoughts or fears, they all have a safe space here.
What's also important: You can dislike another girl. You can be competitive. You can also be unfriendly (we all got bad days). Eliminating girl hate doesn't mean to be friends with every girl in this world. It simply means to stop the jealousy, the back-stabbing, the gossiping, the slut-shaming, and all the other steps which will bring another girl down for all the very wrong reasons.
Keep the words of Jameela Jamil in mind "It is never to late to check yourself and right your wrongs. I used to be slut shamey, judgemental and my feminism wasn't intersectional enough. Nobody is perfectly "woke". Listen, read, learn, grow, change and make room for everyone. We aren't free til ALL of us are free."
Text by Bernak Kharabi
Preview Image Vonecia Carswell via Unsplash