Two days ago a 6th grade girl said, “It’s in our DNA to gossip because we’re girls…” For an 11 or 12 year old girl, this statement feels so true to their experience as they enter middle school. As a 21 year old getting ready to leave college, this statement feels so true to my experience.
I’d be lying if I’ve never said the statement, “I don’t like other girls.” What happened in my girlhood and now the many girls after me to make this idea one that feels so inescapable that the only explanation is that it is coded into what makes us women and girls?
As beautifully stated by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.” Think back to the shows you may have watched and the media that you encountered as a child. Images of “girl fights” over crushes, advertisements for make up and clothes that would allow you to stand out from the rest of your competition along with many others are likely easy to recall.
How do we raise generations of girls to be strong, empowered, and unified if from a young age we pit them against one another? When we allow “girl hate,” we show our girls that girls are all the same; incapable of differing from their assigned gender stereotype; not worthy of knowing. And if we tell our girls that all other girls are unworthy of their time, how can we expect any girl to feel like they are worthy of any person’s time?
It starts with girl hate and ends with low self-esteem, loss of confidence and voice, and a generation of girls that don’t want to be “like other girls.”
by Emily Kindschy