How I Overcame My Misogyny
I was a pre-teen bitch.
I wasn’t exceptionally mean or catty — in fact, I was an anti-bullying advocate. But my deeply internalized sexism led me to disdain anything and everything considered “girly,” from “Twilight” to dresses to teenybopper Disney stars. And the girls who enjoyed them.
I had plenty of friends. But I had trouble getting through a conversation with them. Without expressing annoyance at their passions, anyway.
How could anything be good if the fanbase was 12-year old girls?
Sure, I was a 12-year-old girl, but I was special and different. I liked things that girls didn’t: incontrovertible proof that my favorites were better.
It was gender ranking at work: ranking male-things as better than female-things. My whole life, I’d been told that being a boy was good and being a girl was not so good. I still remember a boy in preschool breaking into tears after being mercilessly teased because his favorite color was purple. Or, if a boy wasn’t quite up to snuff he was called a girl.
To someone seeing through a patriarchal prism that says “masculine” is normal and “feminine” is an inferior mutation, it all made perfect sense.
I didn’t realize I was playing into the double bind which says women and girls should like “feminine” things like fashion, make-up, children and romance, but which simultaneously says those things are shallow, stupid, and lazy.
Ironically, it was the pink-saturated, lipstick-smeared, female-dominated movie Mean Girls that made me think again. I was stunned when Tina Fey told a roomful of high school girls that,
You have to stop calling each other sluts and whores, because that just makes it okay for guys to call you those things.
I was suddenly ashamed of how I had treated women my whole life. I had an epiphany that there’s nothing inherently wrong with being “like other girls” because there is nothing inherently wrong with other girls.
I rededicated myself to defying gender expectations. But this time the defiance wasn’t rooted in misogyny or effemiphobia, but in seeing the look on people’s faces when they realized I wasn’t going to back down when challenged, like a “good girl.”
Turns out, by dismissing mainstream femininity as vapid and useless, I perpetuated a system that pressured me to reject my feminine side. There is nothing superior or intellectual about blindly accepting social norms. Or cutting off half of your humanity.
This was written by one of my students who gave me permission to post it.