“You’re not like other girls.”
Translation: I’ve just basically said I’m not a big fan of women in general, but you’re pretty nice, and I expect you to take that as a compliment.
How many times have you been told, in one way or another, that ‘you’re not like other girls’? And how many times have you got all excited because, like, that is such a big compliment?
I’ll answer first: too f*cking many.
It’s not always stated in those exact words. Sometimes it’s “You’re so interesting to talk to” or “It’s so refreshing how laid back you are” or “Wow, not a lot of girls like Rick and Morty.”
Sometimes it’s even “God; my exes were such psychos, so glad you’re not like that!” What’s that, a bunch of red flags, for me?
The patriarchy mainlines misogyny into our veins from such a young age that by our teens, most girls won’t think twice about taking “You’re not like other girls” as a compliment. And a big one at that. Who cares if all the best people I know are other girls? Right now, there’s a 17-year-old with cider breath who wants to put his tongue down my throat, so I am going to listen to what he says, thank you very much!
I didn’t even lack a basic awareness of feminism as a child and young woman. Seriously, at age two, I was refusing to build a snowman – it was a snowgirl, and I’d hear no more about it. I have always been staunchly pro-woman. By secondary school, if a boy had said to me, “I think most girls are sh*t, but you’re pretty cool,” I would have told him he was being a sexist pig. Or at least I hope I would have. I probably would have still let him kiss me after, if I’m being totally honest.
Still, yearning to not be like other girls – and so to be special to boys – was very much underneath the surface. That’s why they call it internalised misogyny.
Despite growing up in a post–Spice Girls “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends” era, I was very much more concerned with securing the lover than enjoying the friends. The male gaze was a light bulb, and I was a little fly constantly buzzing against it, getting burned and then coming back for more. Weren’t we all?
Meanwhile, were boys all focused on the approval of girls? Was their self-esteem totally dependent on our attention? Like f*ck it was. Boys were also being taught that it was boys who they needed to impress. Even their pursuit of girls was all too often wound up in their endeavours to prove their worth to their (male) mates. So, that’s fun and fulfilling for all concerned.
The world tries ludicrously hard to convince us that being the best girl, rather than the best person or simply the best version of ourselves, is what we should strive to be. I suppose it distracts us from realising that we’re already better than a lot of men, which would be a disaster for the whole patriarchy thing.