By Eva Bilick
Last summer, Kate, Ilana, Jeremy and I were drinking at, arguably, the dirtiest bar in the West 80s, when a girl in a yellow tank top sipping a martini stepped into our line of vision. Jeremy, Ilana’s third boyfriend in four months (go girl!), noticed her and commented that this girl looked a lot like Kate. Ilana and I balked.
You see, there is a tendency among girls to jump to judgment after a statement like this. We think: do they look alike? And against our better judgment, we ask, “Yeah, but who’s prettier?” or “I like this one’s makeup, but that one’s skinnier with better boobs.” It’s not intentional meanness. It’s living in a society that teaches girls from day one to adhere to the heteronormative standards of beauty. So, when Jeremy compared this stranger to Kate, Ilana and I heard, “Let’s stand around and determine which of these two girls is prettier with a better set of shoulders,” and hurried to defend our friend.
“Yeah, but Kate is so much prettier,” I said, gently touching Kate’s arm for reassurance. Kate smiled and we were all in agreement: Kate was Kate Middleton. Yellow Tank was Camilla.
Of course, what we heard was not Jeremy’s intention. It was our trained ears perking up at the familiar threat of an attractive girl we didn’t know (similar to that of an attractive girl we did know, or of girls existing at all anywhere on the planet). For all of time, girls have been set up for rivalry. I bet female dinosaurs spread rumors in the forest about whose tail was enhanced and whose horns were lopsided.
Fashion magazines ask readers, “Which of these two women wearing the same shirt looks better in it?” In other words: who are we bashing today? I, for one, am in constant competition with the sexy H&M mannequins on 59th street (no one looks that good in a tweed skirt, amiright?).
After the Oscars, reporters didn’t ask Seth McFarlane how he felt about the negative reviews of his performance. Instead, they printed articles like, “How Annoying Is Anne Hathaway?” and “The Science Behind Hating Anne Hathaway”, and, “At Least Your Boobs Are Bigger Than Anne Hathaway’s”. Why are we in such a rush to judge each other? (Note to magazine editors: Just because you quote a scientist in your article doesn’t mean your entire premise of perpetuating girl-on-girl bashing via Anne Hathaway isn’t totally messed up).
I realized something that night at the dirtiest bar in the West 80’s: I was a total misogynist. Sure, I campaigned for Hillary and made a point to spot sexism in the media, but as long as I boosted my friend’s ego by bashing a fellow woman, I was all talk.
After my epiphany at the bar, I tried to become more conscious of my judgments of other women. When I began replacing statements like, “you’re so much prettier” with “you’re both really pretty”, or a simple “yeah, you do look alike”, I began to free myself from the prison walls of gendered society.
It’s nearly impossible to shed all of our discriminatory thoughts. But, as long as we’re aware of our behavior, we can combat these prejudiced tendencies. Moreover, instead of judging others to fight for the Who’s Hotter prize, why not band together to form a modern, kick-ass lady-led society? After all, it is what Beyonce’s been singing about all these years.
Eva Bilick is a proud feminist and aspiring writer living in New York City. She believes in the limitless power of united, outspoken women, and in the gospel of Ms. Beyonce Knowles. Don’t try and talk to her about anything serious when there are puppies around – she will be distracted. You can read more of her thoughts on her blog — istheresomethinginmyteeth.com — or on Twitter via @evabilick.