When I was growing up there seemed to be this unspoken idea that, as a female, it was cool to be friends with guys - way cooler than it was to have a ton of girl friends. I'm not quite sure where this idea stemmed from, yet even when I think back to all of the Disney princesses I grew up admiring, from Ariel to Belle, not a single one had a female friend or surrounded themselves with like-minded women. In fact, in many instances, other women actually played the part of the rival or the protaganist. And so, somewhere along the line, I began to believe that it was more desirable - you were more desirable - if you were a girl who was just one of the guys. As I transcended into my teenage years, I felt myself becoming increasingly nervous around, easily intimidated by and actually almost a little bit resentful towards girls that I wasn't already super comfortable with (see: my mother, my sister and maybe one or two really close friends that were there since the beginning). I found it so difficult to connect with females because for so long I viewed myself as 'not like other girls', subconsciously buying into the idea that being a girl, or associating myself with other females was bad, whilst surrounding myself with masculinity was good. Inevitably, this evolved into a very unhealthy relationship with my own gender right up until I hit my twenties and started educating myself. Seriously.
Since then, I've been consciously working on my relationships with other women and working towards eliminating girl hate from my life. I want to be a better feminist. It's not hard to see that instead of bringing us together, society continually pits women against one another, from beauty standards, to careers, to sexuality and everything in-between. Rivalry between females has become so ingrained in our culture, that our subconscious insecurities do the rest of the leg work for us. One too many times, I've caught myself thinking (or actually saying), "Yeah, she is *insert compliment here*, BUT..." We've all been there. When you put it into perspective, it becomes easy to see (albeit hard to swallow) that these type of comments and thoughts come from a much deeper place of insecurity. I mean, look at it this way: it's absurd to dislike another woman just because of her success, or because of her body type, or because of her sexual prowess, or because of her relationship, or because of anything that really doesn't have anything to do with her - because it's all to do with your own insecurities and these ingrained societal problems that all of us have inevitably internalised.
In truth, you shouldn't be so hard on yourself if you've ever had similar thoughts. After all, it's an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. I'm learning every single day. As mentioned before, we live in a society that accepts girl hate as the norm instead of placing a bigger focus on girl love, and that in itself is so sad. Don't get me wrong, some people are worth 'hating'. That's where you have to consciously differentiate between the girls society tells you to hate because they are your 'competition', and the girls who might actually just be sh*tty people. And so, in a bid to wave goodbye to unnecessary girl hate, here are just a few of the ways in which you can show your support for and empower your fellow females.
- Remember that her success is not your failure.
- Be open and accepting of other women's personal goals for success.
- Stop judging - stop slut-shaming, stop body-shaming, stop shaming other women.
- Remember that girls come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, ethnicities, sexualities and cultures.
- Remember that society's expectations of what makes a 'girl' isn't the only definition of what a girl is.
- Remember that the term 'real woman' is super subjective, and often an extremely harmful one.
- Respect the voices of our fellow girls - we have so much to learn from one another!
- Get involved, donate, volunteer - recognise your privilege and use it for good.
- Listen to criticism.
- Speak up against everyday sexism.
- Make your feminism inclusive of all women.
And, if you're all for girls supporting girls, you can pre-order this super cute shirt from Laura Supnik and wear your support right on your chest. A portion of the proceeds from the t-shirt orders will be going to Planned Parenthood.
Be an ally, not an enemy.Katy Belle.
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