How patriarchy leads to animosity among women
By Connie Honeycutt
If I learned anything throughout my awkward middle school years and troubling high school days, it is one thing: Girls are catty, annoying bitches.
This, I truly believed, for the simple fact that we shared the same genitalia. They were women, and so of course that was enough reason to be wary. However, a little enlightening moment in college, and I realized something: I was wrong. But who could blame me? This was all I knew. I had learned to hate other women. And why? Because society taught me that in order to succeed, I needed to stand apart from my gender. Women just aren’t quite there yet. I’m not afraid to say that women are still struggling to find equality in our society. And because of that, girls fight.
I would never deny the enormous successes that women have achieved over the past 50 years. We have gained so many more rights and freedoms that women years ago would never believe were possible. However, there is one thing that has remained the same—our misogynistic, patriarchal society. A world where we are all taught that in order to be successful, we must follow a heterosexual script. And where does that success lead to? To power. But in today’s world, men still have it.
So, women weigh their options. And what they quickly figure out is that to be seen, to be respected, or to just be heard, they have to be more than a woman. They have to strip away all of the negative attributes that are so correspondent to their gender, and the further they can distance themselves from these negative characteristics (weak, catty, bitchy) the closer they come to gaining power and recognition from men. So, fighting with other girls brings them closer to the power they crave. Men kill their weak, while women kill their strong.
Four female and two male students were charged with harassing a freshman student at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts. Phoebe Prince resorted to hanging herself from a stairwell in January due to the taunting that started when she had a brief relationship with a popular senior boy. They called her an “Irish slut,” knocked books out of her hands and sent her threatening text messages day after day, and she committed suicide.
Why? Because at a very young age, we are forced to follow a heterosexual script in order to gain what we ultimately desire: Power. Respect. To be known. To be appreciated. To be loved. To be wanted. So, when another girl stands in our way of getting there, or she chooses a path that we don’t approve of, we tear her apart. We break her down so that there is a slim chance that we will be granted that slice of power she once had.
It is simple: Girls are fighting for power, and the best way to understand what has happened to our society in the aftermath of the feminist revolution is to recognize that we have settled in a secure hell. We have learned to deal with the system instead of working to change it. Yes, let’s be happy we can vote. We can buy birth control. We can sometimes get the same job as a man. But, we have to remember that women are still struggling. They are not told that it is okay to desire sex, to want or to fight for respect. They are not taught to love or appreciate other women. Women are taught to search for a man, tame him, and then live in fear of other women who will try to take him away.
Our society believes that women just fight. Plain and simple, girls are naturally mean. And so, our beliefs become our realities. The problem is that when we struggle to separate the two, the reality is quite clear. We become lost and learn to take ourselves out of the equation altogether. We simply deal. We start to think it is normal. Girls are bitches. That’s the end of the story and, for some reason, that just makes sense.
I know these claims are large, complicated and even a little scary. How can we be in the 21st century and still be whining about equality, right? Well it is simple: We have forgotten how strong socially constructed ideals can be.
I understand that it is hard to put an end to something so deep and complex. But, if we all become more aware of others and ourselves in this strict society, then there is more hope for change. The personal is political, and this story is a personal one for many women. However, it can easily be explained by the larger social structures that create the very oppressions that drive women to hate each other. Girls fight for a reason. And if we recognize the problem, then maybe we can at least work to put an end to that. If you believe it, you can make it so.
Connie Honeycutt is a sophomore TV-R major who is looking at you, Regina George. Boo, you whore. E-mail her at [email protected].