How Being "Different From Other Girls" Is More Harmful Than Helpful
Posted on 05 June 2016
hidden - adjective: not easily found or recognized
misogyny - noun, mi-sog-y-ny: a hatred of women
Over the course of time, I realized something about the way we hide insults to girls and women. Of course, there’s the obvious kitchen jokes and fight to either destroy or maintain the patriarchy. What I didn’t notice, though, were the micro aggressions toward girls and women. One being “you’re different from other girls”. It’s so common but for different reasons, there are micro aggressive misogynistic tones behind it. Obviously, context matters but during the different scenarios that I have seen the saying be used - there is a misogynistic essence. Mind you, I’m not saying that it is used deliberately to be misogynistic or borderline condescending, I’m just saying that the hidden misogyny is definitely there.
In scenario one, we have the open male misogynist looking for his female misogynist counterpart. The consecutive eyerolls whenever a girl laughs, or radiant pride when a girl answers the wrong question or the look of halfway confusion and halfway disgust when a girl says that she likes football. The thing with these kind of guys is that they have to have a mirror image of themselves in order for them to remotely find a girl relevant enough for their time, hence finding a girl that is “different from other girls”.
Girls and women have almost our own culture, same as guys. We understand each other in an almost universal matter. What some people, particularly misogynist boys, don’t understand is that we are not a monolith. We are capable of like to wear dresses and have a hobby of construction work, too. We can love romantic comedies but be experts in field like medicine or politics or law. And contrary to popular belief, we can like sports for our own entertainment and not just an excuse to be around more men. We are not all the same and we are not all different.
So yes, misogynistic people who hate women, find yourself a counterpart who also hates women. Find someone who hates anything as soon as a girl or woman says that they like it. Find someone who hates fun and laughter as much as you do. It’s not going to stop girls from being girls. But keep fueling your misogynistic girl friends by telling that that they’re “different from other girls”, I’m sure one day you’ll realize that no matter how much you try to rain on our parade, you’re not going to change anything.
Then we have scenario two, making the girl feel special about herself. Don’t freak out because yes I do believe you are special and yes I do believe that someone should let you know it. When describing the things you like about a girl, don’t forget the little things, details matter. But mentioning the little things and saying “you’re different from other girls” are two different things. However, I am against theoretically telling someone that they are better than their gender in order to make them feel good. Mostly because it can create a lot of sexist thoughts and ideas that tell girls and women that their choices/lives/actions are better than others and separate them from the bunch.
You see this a lot with the girl on girl hate that cycles through our everyday lives. “Different from other girls” creates entitlement for girls to judge and ridicule the decisions of other girls. It’s used as a way for all genders to make themselves or girls and women to feel like they are above all others. And when girls themselves use it, it is often in a way to make herself feel better and look better. This is a tricky situation, though, don’t get me wrong. Context and personal belief very well plays into this a lot. But, it’s better to be safe than sorry - that is a real thing.
What it can also do is form a false sense of a security blanket within the relationship. Telling a girl that you like her because of her individuality is not a bad thing but it does come with a price if the relationship ends and said partner moves on. It can create issues with low self-esteem, confidence and trust in people’s word. How does the girl that was different from other girls become the girl who is just another ex? How different is your new partner? Did her differences ultimately create her downfall? A lot of questions that will probably never be answered.
And lastly, here comes my favorite personal use of the phrase, scenario three. Saying “you’re different from other girls” as your defense against a girl or woman calling you out on your misogyny and/or sexism.
- Sexist: “Girls just aren’t meant to be politicians, they just can’t hold the debate as well and don’t hold enough authority.”
- Girl Defender: “I just don’t agree because-”
- Sexist: “No, not you. You’re different from other girls.”
But hold on, yes me. It very much is me. “Different from other girls” is used as an outing when sexist people stereotype girls and women but then don’t feel like arguing or finding “logic” behind their statement. What girls and women need to realize is that whether or not you happen to fit said stereotype or criticism, don’t feel better when they say “Oh, no. Not you. You aren’t like them.” because regardless of you not being that thing, don’t let girls be underestimated. Don’t let people make us a monolith but then single you out because they’re afraid of an argument. And don’t single yourself out unless you’re ready to defend the fact that we are not a monolith.
And besides the fact that we as a gender are not a monolith, you as a singular girl or woman do not have to have a uniform personality. You can vary and you can be diverse and you can have an interest in things that are polar opposites to themselves. Tell them, you love shoes and you love politics. You do not have to succumb to the stereotypical image that girls and women are constantly only one thing or another with no inbetween. And you do not have to and should not have to succumb to the deliberate lack of faith in our gender to support one another, differences and similarities included.
We are and will always be individuals. We are and will always be unique. However, that doesn’t mean that individuality and uniqueness places each other on pedestals or let boys and men do it for us. We fight for our own and we fight for each other.
Our differences should be shown in only ways that can better and help not only ourselves but each other. Our competition shouldn’t be who does or doesn’t dress modestly enough, it should be in the workforce or for our education. Our uniqueness shouldn’t be shown to pit one another against each other, it should be to embrace ourselves and our differences. And we most definitely shouldn’t use our differences as a reason to enable and cultivate misogyny.
We need to be aware of hidden misogyny, it can and will destroy us from the inside.
Have you ever used the phrase "different from other girls" before? Will you now? Let us know in the comments section below!
Hi, pals! Isabella Rhodes here. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. It's kind of hard because I consider myself to be a little bit all over the place. But for the basics: I'm 16 years old, I have she/her pronouns, I am an unapologetic carefree black girl (don't ask me what that means because what that means to me is very different from the black girl next to me, and that's okay). I'm currently living the high school experience and I love it. I'm grateful for my surroundings, my life, my family and friends. And the most important thing that you should know about me is that I am a feminist, a womanist and above all - an activist.