By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Photography Editor~
She had sex, so she’s a slut. She wears leggings, so she’s basic. She’s your boss, so she’s a b*tch. These classifiers roll off our tongues, deliciously digging at the women we don’t like and the girls we envy.
These words are more than insults that we hurl at people to bring them down in a sort of “I am still 12 years old and refuse to be a decent human” kind of way. These words speak volumes about the way we basically hate women.
But we don’t hate women, right? I mean, that’s absurd. Except it’s not. The thing about misogyny is that it’s hidden in our speech, our actions and our laws. Misogyny ranges from views about feminism, equal pay and the right to vote, all the way to saying, “I’m not like other girls.”
I wore dresses exclusively until I was five years old. My favorite book was “Hannah and the Seven Dresses,” a story about a girl who loved all of her dresses so much that she tried to wear them all at once. Then I realized that my beloved dresses made me “girly” and that being associated with femininity was bad, that it made me weak, stupid and shallow. I remember proclaiming to my classmates, my parents and my friends that I now hated dresses and skirts. In reality, I hated being associated with women. I didn’t want to be like “other” girls.
This girl, this “I’m not like other girls” character, is a common trope in entertainment. She’s quirky and nerdy and hangs with the guys but doesn’t sleep around. She isn’t concerned with her appearance. She’s the tomboy who wears band tees. But the one time she wears a dress, she looks more stunning than ever. She’s smart, but not too smart, and rebellious but still wholesome.
The reason she can be all of these things is that she has dissociated herself from the rest of the big bad female population.
This kind of attitude is not only dangerous, it’s detrimental to how we treat women. When I saw girls as “others,” I found excuses to harp on them for the way their pony tails swished and the clothes they probably wore to impress some guy. The “other girl” complex pins all other women as inferior and says that their actions are hinged on the approval of others. This complex completely dehumanizes women.
Once we dehumanize women, it makes it incredibly easy, and almost fun, to call them sluts and b*tches. Women can be sluts regardless of their sexual behavior. She’s a slut if she turns down a date. She’s a slut if she’s walking to class on a busy street. She’s a slut because she’s not a person anymore. So what else could she possibly be?
Well, she could be a b*tch. After all, she’s in an authoritative leadership role. She’s assertive, confident and outspoken. But she’s not allowed to be those things, so we call her something harmful instead. Moreover, we reserve this incredibly negative, derogatory language exclusively for women. These awful traits in women are attributes that we actually praise in men. If a man is an effective boss, he’s accomplished. If he’s sleeping with multiple women, he’s desirable.
The criticism of women extends even further with the term “basic.” Whether used genuinely or ironically, the objective is to insult women who buy into or participate in popular trends. Leggings, UGGs, pumpkin spice lattes and taking selfies all make you “basic” and therefore inferior.
We use the term “basic” to condemn women who like things that, guess what, a lot of other people like. It’s not making a point about consumerism or mainstream activity. This word is specifically used to target women and make them feel bad about themselves. “Basic” is an attempt to put a superiority complex in place that condemns women for liking what they like.
The way we use derogatory words to target women is an epidemic. This makes femininity and womanhood synonymous with weakness, promiscuity and insincerity. All of the hatred aimed toward women makes it even harder for women to support other women because we have been told to do the complete opposite. We are still searching for answers to fix inequality and hate in our world, but we have forgotten to look at ourselves.