“I don’t really like girls.”
“I only have guy friends because I can’t stand drama and pettiness.”
“I’m practically a boy in a girl’s body.”
“My friends all treat me like I’m one of the guys.”
Okay. To a certain extent, I get it. Maybe you had a girlfriend freshman year of high school that ditched you for her new boyfriend, or a girl you told a secret to spilled the beans to 50 of her friends. Maybe you’ve had experiences in the past where a few girls have been dramatic or petty, and you suffered from it. Maybe you’ve never had the same issue with your friends that are guys. We’ve all had these sort of experiences, and it really does suck. I’m sorry.
Your personal experience with women in friendship does not give you any excuse to make any sort of blanket statement about the nature of women, especially a negative statement.
Here’s why: it is harmful to you and to your fellow women. When you say that women are dramatic, emotional, or shallow, you are participating in the stereotyping of your own gender. In a fight against the stereotyping of women by men, your stereotyping of other women is only hurting yourself.
No matter how many “masculine” traits you adopt, or how many guys you call your friend, you are still a woman and you are still oppressed. But – there is some good news. You are not alone. We’re in this together, and pretending that it’s not happening to you is exactly that: pretending.
By throwing all other women under the bus, you are not protecting yourself from oppression. In fact, you are losing the chance to connect with the only people who experience and understand the multitude of struggles you face that are unique to women. Why would you close yourself off from that? In a world where women wake up every morning to face oppression and limitation, knowing that you are not facing those struggles alone can sometimes be the thought that gets you out of bed.
When you say “girls are ____,” people hear you. Men hear you. Women hear you. Your negative statement is internalized. You may influence a woman to isolate herself the way you have isolated yourself, harming her ability to feel as if she is not alone in her struggles. You may strengthen a man’s views on the second-class nature of women. Your words affect others.
If you have this sort of attitude towards women, recognize its harmfulness and want to change it, I encourage you do something as simple as striking up a conversation with a woman today. If you maintain a positive and open mind, I bet that you’ll find that your attitude was a lot of the reason you have struggled to maintain healthy friendships with women in the past. Grudges can effect the way we interact with others, but they are also a conscious attitude that we can get rid of.
To the men and women reading this article who do not have this attitude, I encourage you to challenge those who do. Ask them why they hold those beliefs. My guess is that their past experiences, as well as the oppressive world that they live in, have led them to truly internalize those stereotypes. In a world that is shouting at you to hate women, it can sometimes be hard not to listen.
I encourage you to shout back. Shout that woman-ness is a strength and not a weakness. Shout that being a girl is nothing to be ashamed of. Shout that you refuse to be shoved into the box of “dramatic” or “emotional” or any other label the world chooses to place on our gender – and most importantly, don’t let anyone tell you that your struggles aren’t worth shouting for.