By AMY WONG
She’s funny. She’s quirky. She reads. She plays video games. She’s not afraid to eat pizza and fries (or both at the same time), and she hangs out with the guys because it’s ‘less drama’. But most importantly, she’s not like other girls.
Maybe we’ve heard this line delivered more often by men to women. If you’ve seen Disney’s ‘The Princess and the Frog’, Naveen’s clumsy proposal has him blurting out that Tiana’s not like any of the other girls. On the surface, it sounds like a compliment to her uniqueness––surely nobody wants to be the average person. But it’s not what lies in the words, it’s what’s unspoken that’s worth analyzing.
Why is it so important that this one individual be unlike other girls? Of course she’s not like other girls; we subscribe to the idea that everyone is special and unique in their own way. If this is what we champion, then there must be something wrong with all these ‘other girls’.
Who are the ‘other girls’? Other girls are ‘basic’––they have an addiction to pumpkin spice lattes, UGG boots, shopping, and Instagram culture, among other things. These girls are your quintessential ‘basic bitch’, a term that most people have attributed to rapper and singer Kreayshawn’s hip hop song ‘Gucci Gucci’. The interests of your average basic bitch change according to the times, but her underlying personality traits remain the same: vapid, shallow, materialistic, boy-crazy, obsessive. She generally subscribes to mainstream pop culture––she’s what Gillian Flynn might describe in her novel Gone Girl as a Cool Girl. In protagonist Amy Dunne’s words, the Cool Girl is “basically the girl who likes [everything her boyfriend] likes and doesn’t complain.”
Flynn’s Amy Dunne isn’t the first (albeit fictional) girl to proclaim her difference from other girls. Arya Stark of HBO’s Game of Thrones delivers a similar line when asked about her more masculine interests, such as sword fighting. “Most girls are idiots,” she proclaims, referring to those in stories with flowers in their hair.
While this is an extraordinarily broad and inaccurate statement made by a young, fictional girl, it highlights how pervasive this mentality of needing to not be like ‘most other girls’ is. These are just two of many instances where it’s been shown on TV, and we’ve probably heard something along these lines in real life, too. For some women, being unlike our sisters is a crowning point of achievement in feminism and women empowerment. But is it really?
Let’s revisit the definition of feminism. Feminism, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”. The issue here is within social equality among women. Why is it so important to be unlike other women? What do we gain from this difference? And why do we frown on other women for conforming to stereotypes that we ourselves have imposed on them?
To be like other girls is not inherently bad or anti-feminist. The character traits of the aforementioned ‘basic bitch’ are not inherently harmful, nor do they impede social progression. Why we have such an aversion to being like other girls is less clear, but what is clear is that this mentality creates an unnecessary, even harmful division in women solidarity.
The need to proclaim yourself as unlike other girls is an implication that the rest of your gender is doing something wrong. This generalization only furthers negative stereotypes about women and prevents solidarity from being reached. While everyone has undoubtedly met some equivalent of a basic bitch and disliked her, the reasons for disliking her should pertain to valid personality flaws and not an obsessive love for Starbucks. She’s doing nothing wrong––rather, those who perpetrate the stereotype are in the wrong, especially women attacking other women just for daring to exist in a certain way, or to fit a certain image of their choosing.
Putting other women down for personal reasons, no matter how thickly veiled it is, should never be considered cute or quirky. It’s childish, boring, and frankly anti-feminist.