Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: The “I Hate Other Girls” Trap

Oh, you all know at least one. Who knows, maybe you are one. A girl who hates other girls. A girl who says, “All my friends are guys.” A girl who generalizes about other girls, calling them “bitches” and “superficial” and “annoying,” and using all of those things to justify to other people why you don’t have female friends. Here’s a newsflash, cupcake: maybe you don’t have female friends because you’re a jerk and not very pleasant to be around.

There’s nothing wrong with disliking other individuals, regardless of gender. But when you start proclaiming for everyone to hear that you’re just too good to hang around with other people of your gender, you’re saying less about their personality flaws and more about your own. You’re so convinced of your own amazing special snowflake-ness that you’re completely discounting the fact that there may be more women out there just like you. If you don’t like girls who are into fashion and makeup and like to go to the mall, I promise you that you aren’t alone. If you’re annoyed by girls who seem to expend all of their energy on getting guys to like them, there are tons of other girls who also hate that. If you like sports or cars or computer programming or video games, well, these are not the domains of men exclusively. Think about it. You’re a girl. You possess all of these qualities that you value in a human being. Why would you choose to believe that you are the only one out there who possesses those qualities as well as being female? It just doesn’t make statistical sense.

Why the need for an “I hate other girls” proclamation? Is there some underlying desperation for male approval, some need to prove that you’re so different from all the other girls out there, when all that boils down to is that you’re one of those chicks who just wants dudes to like her? And you do it by insulting and generalizing about other women. And here’s the thing, once you do it, you start to make it OK for everyone to do it. So saying, “Girls are bitches” or, “Girls are shallow and catty” just opens up the door for guys to say those things. It’s one of the ways that society at large helps to keep women down: by turning us against one another, even subtly. And I know that girls who hate other girls are the first ones to say, “Oh, I’m not like that. I’m like a guy! I like guy things, and guys are easier to be friends with.” So you probably shouldn’t be surprised that all those women that you’re being a jerk about aren’t banging down your door to be your friend. Because by saying all of that, you’re being shallow and catty. You’re reducing women to stereotypes while somehow frantically begging everyone not to apply that stereotype to you.

Not to mention, female friends can be awesome. You have stuff in common! You can have easy conversations, or crazy adventures, or build stuff together. You can play video games, or go to baseball games, or take apart engines. Whatever it is that you like to do. Why is it that so many girls think that they can only do those things with guys? People deserve better than to be reduced to their gendered stereotypes. I have awesome female friends. I can have heated discussions about TV shows or great novels or how to best insulate a drafty house against winter winds. We quote bad movies and veto outfits and critique each other’s writing. With some friends, I do “girly” stuff like go to the mall or shop for makeup. But that’s not the sum total of our friendships. We are complex, whole people who interact with each other in complicated and interesting ways. If I were to decide one day that I’m too good to have female friends, or that I hate other girls, I’d be denying myself some of the best and strongest relationships in my life. And, frankly, I feel a little sorry for those girls who have decided that they’re just better than the rest of their gender. Because they’re missing out. We’re awesome. You should want to be our friend.

(A slightly more profane version of this post appeared at Nice Girls Don’t Swear.)

9 replies on “Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: The “I Hate Other Girls” Trap”

Thank you for this! This annoys me so much, primarily because I’ve witnessed it in action with some girls in my (mostly male) film classes-and considering how strongly, predominantly male the industry is on the production side, women already face enough misogynistic b.s. from men without getting it from other women too. There’s such a strong element of hypocrisy in it, too, as the declaration of “non-girliness” usually goes something like this:
Random girl: Oh, yeah, I HATE girls. They’re just so shallow and bitchy and judgmental. I just, like, can’t deal with the drama that girls create-they’re all so mean to each other! Guys are soooo much cooler, not all petty and underhanded like girls are. (Flips hair and eyelashes repeatedly, hoping desperately to curry favor)
The fact that statements like these, combined with the actions that usually accompany them, are in fact the very essence of shallowness and underhandedness, never seems to occur to these girls. And it’s kind of weird, since it’s almost always done to impress guys, but I’ve never actually met a guy who thought it made a girl hotter. In fact, (anecdata alert), I was talking with a group of guy friends one time, and this subject came up, and the universal consensus was that it was a turn off if a girl was really nasty towards other girls. Ultimately, I think hating on other girls doesn’t make you better than them; it just makes you not a very nice person.

I’m probably way too late for this but I’ve been thinking about it anyway. In high school, I was definitely one of those girls. I always had more male than female friends. I felt that I got along better with boys. I attended a women’s college anyway, which I loved, where I made a tonne of female friends and swore to myself that I would never be that girl again. Then I started grad school and lo and behold, once again I have more male than female friends, and feel more comfortable with men (though I would never, ever say ‘I hate other women’, because I know now that it’s incredibly stupid and a self-fulfilling prophecy).

I’ve been trying to figure out why I keep finding myself in this position, because it’s not really a place where I want to be. The female friends I made in college, and the one or two I have left from high school, are my favourite people in the universe, bar none. I have a close relationship with my sister, a real ‘girl’s girl’. So what’s wrong with me?

A lot of the girl ‘groups’ I’ve been in, outside of the context of my women’s college, have dynamics that I’m just not able to handle. I’m really bad at picking up unspoken signals, and these groups have all relied on unspoken signals to interact with one another. No one is ever honest about conflicts, instead things remain unsaid (or discussed behind backs), and I just don’t get it. I live in perpetual fear that I’ve upset or offended someone, and that I’ll never be able to apologise because they’ll never tell me what I did – but I’ll still be blamed. I feel constantly on my toes, as if I can’t relax and I don’t know where I stand.

Just to make it clear, I do not think this is how all female groups interact. My groups of friends in college were nothing like this. Sure, we had fights, but things were always out in the open. If I piss off my best friend from high school, she’ll tell me, I apologise, and we move on (and vice versa) – and, crucially, if one of us is annoyed but not enough to make an issue of it, we just let it go. Even now, my closest female friend in grad school is someone others see as very straightforward and even a little blunt. I just don’t know what to do – I feel like there’s a skill I’m missing, or something. I don’t live in the same country as any of my best girlfriends anymore, and it’s really lonely. Sadface.

I was just thinking about this concept yesterday while commenting on the “i Hate Sookie” post. Seinfeld was mentioned and I immediately thought of Elaine as one of these women.

There’s nothing wrong with disliking other individuals, regardless of gender.

That is key! There are plenty of people of both genders who are assholes and when you single one out it shows me you are pretty ignorant to the complexities and nuance of humanity.

There is a long standing competitive dynamic that is present in the relationship between girls that I think is groomed from when we are very, very young. It starts when we are in kindergarten and they start giving out those awards for the best this and the best that. Granted, that is not gender based, but because we start to separate the activities of boys and girls at that time, I think young girls learn very young to compare ourselves to each other and feel better, more than based on how less than other girls are perceived.

Add in the fashion/beauty industry and all the others that scrutinize the “best” look, the “greatest hair do” the “most appealing” body, “who wore it best” beauty pageants, blah, blah and by the time girls are in high school, they are almost pre-programmed to judge another girl on her appearance and mentally categorize her. So we end up making friends with women who accept us, who approve of how we look/talk/act/think, usually people who are like us, and we hate on the ones who don’t. You know, we form cliques. Now add in boys and it gets really messy. I recently had a conversation with a relative who was “replaced” by another girl on FB as this guys FB girlfriend. As soon as that happened this girl, who she didn’t know, became and ugly bitch that she hated.

I said So, you don’t know this girl from Adam, and she is an ugly bitch just because he dissed you for her? Why are you happy to speak to him and why aren’t you thinking screw you, you dissed me I don’t want anything to do with you? Well, because she wanted him; she wanted to be chosen and she wanted to win. So she she was mad at the other girl because basically that was easier than looking at her own her own disappointment, the feelings she had when the guy dissed her.

So basically, I think when a girl is looking for outside approval to make her feel good about herself she’ll hate on any one who doesn’t give her that or draws attention to her flaws. The whole “I hate other girls” is a cover up.

Another possibility to consider is someone’s fear of acceptance and feeling as though they are being judged. Girls in middle/high school were VERY hard on each other and I was constantly teased about my curly hair, freckles, rosy cheeks, anything else under the sun. The guys, though, thought I was nice, smart and beautiful. So, I spent time with the people that were more accepting and not waiting for me to wear the wrong outfit so they could publicly humiliate me.

During my college years, when I had more freedom to choose who I spent time around, I socialized almost exclusively with guys and was someone that would generally say “I don’t really get along with girls.” I might have thought that it sounded tough, but I knew that it was because I was too scared that I would continue to be judged or that my trust would be betrayed.

Now, in my late 20s, I don’t really care what gender someone comes from if they’re rude and not someone I want to spend time with, but it took time to get over being bullied almost exclusively by girls. Sometimes peoples’ patterns are more about self-defense and less about their desire to be kind humans.

I had a very similar experience in high school, and then in college I talked about myself as someone who usually associated with guys (which was true). This was also a very real part of processing a sexual assault, which resulted in some unsafe behaviors and fear of being close to anyone – perhaps especially other women? I still can feel the impact of this fear and to this day do not have many friends, much less women friends. Its something I am aware of, and am working on, but I don’t think I’m being a judgy-jerk. That said, I also no longer say that other girls are the problem, instead I recognize it as something I need to overcome. That’s not always easy for people.

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