Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beautiful Harpies

Have you ever heard a woman say that she "just doesn't get along with other women"?

Not a wild statement at first glance, but if you truly consider it, what it's really saying is, "I'M not like other women, I'm special. I'm the Cool Girl who hangs out with the boys." This is generally considered to be a form of internalized misogyny - a poison belief that all (other) women are either too 'girly' in their interests, or are jealous, catty harpies. It's a load of shit, of course, but it is depressingly common and usually based on experiences we had in our teens and early 20s when we're still feeling out who we are and what we're interested in.

Compounding the problem is that there is social conditioning at work that sometimes dictates subject matter in conversation - there's an archaic idea that women in a group MUST talk about makeup, or babies, or cooking, or some other 'feminine' topic while the men play beer pong in the next room and talk sports and philosophy. If a woman is bored by babies and lipstick, she should not assume all the other women in the room are interested solely in these things - she should try bringing up a different topic and see what happens. Maybe one of those women who likes lipstick also likes serial killers.

I'm quite lucky in that I know many fantastic women, and I feel even luckier in that I have the pleasure of working with several. Last Friday, a group of us went out for drinks and spent a good few hours just talking. (I may have, after three glasses of sangria, suggested that women need to stop being racist and homophobic and just band together since if we have a united front we outnumber horrible old white men, buuuut... see three glasses of sangria.)

The following day I had my first Gracefully and Grandly class with Ruthe Ordare, and at the beginning of the class we made introductions. I was surprised by the fact that more than one woman was taking the class specifically to meet other women - one of our classmates is an engineer, and she said she was surrounded by men all day during the week and just needed to get away from testosterone sometimes. Obviously there wasn't much talking in a dance class since we were, you know, dancing but I was still struck at the time by how safe a space it was. Some of the exercises we did for free movement were, objectively, hilarious... but nobody was sitting there judging anybody else, and nobody was laughing or being bitchy. It was a supportive female environment.

Women - like men - can be wonderful people, or terrible. Both genders (and any and all in between or beyond) are simply people. Treating them as anything but is bound to cause problems and leave you missing out on some great experiences and opportunities for friendship.

And honestly, if you really think that every one of your own gender is a jealous, catty bitch? Well. YOU'RE probably being the cunty one and could stand to do a little self reflection. Come on, ladies. Let's not buy into this trap.

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