ROSE BOSTWICK (GRADE 11)
It would be dishonest to say that I’ve never talked about other girls in a negative way behind their back, or described another girl as “bitchy.” Usually, I chalk that up to myself being a judgmental person, although it’s probably safe to assume that some amount of internalized misogyny plays into it as well. However, being a critical person means that I usually to surround myself with a fair amount of similar people, both girls and guys. Therefore, it’s hard for me to argue without being hypocritical that it isn’t okay for a guy to dislike certain people who happen to be girls and to talk about that. But it can be difficult to draw the line, then, between what is innate judgmental human nature and what is disrespectful and dehumanizing.
A while back, one of my guy friends told me a story about a girl he disliked. I originally agreed that, given the evidence and her actions, he was more or less justified in his feelings. When he went on to call her a feminazi (among other things), I was slightly less on board, but said little other than frowning a bit.
Later, I was discussing those two with another friend and he asked if I had heard about the incident. “He really hates her now,” he remarked.
“Yeah, I heard, he called her a feminazi,” I said, assuming for some reason that this friend was a person who would understand my tone and share in my thinking that that was an unrelated and unacceptable insult.
“Oh yeah,” he said, “Because she is one!”
“No,” I started, “that’s not…” I gave up, realizing any argument from me would be futile since I had introduced the topic. As a friend, it’s hard to tell someone that what they’re saying makes you genuinely uncomfortable, especially when it’s someone you like being around otherwise. I’ve had a few too many conversations with guys where they call women the C-word. I’ve overheard my fair share of rape jokes. I’ve seen certain guys texting each other screenshots of girls they know on Instagram with the caption “You want?” What I’ve often found in my relationships with many boys is the harsh understanding that, just as they pick apart other girls’ bodies and personalities and beliefs, they’re definitely doing the same to you.
It’s often hard to explain to male friends that while you understand their intentions are fine and while you don’t think they’re fundamentally bad people, what they’re doing is sexist. What can be even harder is realizing you’re part of the problem. A lot of factors go into why I and a lot of girls usually don’t actually say anything or stop associating with those people. Regardless of the excuses, what I have to do is stop contributing to misogyny at the root. I have to stop being apologetic and making excuses for the actions of my male friends. In the end, the result will feel better than any male validation ever will.
Photo credit: Hannah Barcyzk