I Am Not Like Other Girls – Can We Unbox Feminism from Trappings?
As a teenager, I had a penchant for films like Mean Girls, The Duff and Wild Child. I was inordinately perplexed by the idea of “I vs. Them”, easily concluding girls who love wearing makeup are nothing but “plastic” and deducing without an iota of hitch that I detest shimmer and glamour.
Plain speak. But we all have been, we all are and will always be guilty enough of luxuriating in discourses where we have validated ourselves by harnessing catchphrases like- “I don’t like wearing makeup”, “I hated playing with dolls”, “I abhor kids”, “I am not girly” and the most lionised of them all:
“I AM NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS.”
As a young girl, a teenager or a 20 year old woman we have invariably strived to be not like other girls, the idea to be different, unique, tomboyish ( an extremely problematic adjective) is nothing but a fragment of our patriarchal legacy.
Patriarchy regulates us on a sexual, emotional, physical, social and cerebral level. We have seen in young adult novels, teen dramas, romantic comedies how a college heartthrob goes from dating a popular girl who is always shown to lack intellect and her interests being bounded by makeup, manicures-pedicures, and her attire restricted to a colour palette of pinks and purples.
The Two Stories We Are Fed
Then a girl who plays football, hangs out with boys or does not care about her looks makes an entrance, eventually leading to the boy fall for this girl, we all remember Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Mujhse Dosti Karoge – Now this is the plot that is often projected to the audience and affects the way the society identifies an archetype of a woman.
The other one, a popular girl is often pretty but her thoughts and wisdom are rendered as thick. “You are too pretty to have radical thoughts”.
There is an urgent need to analyse and scrutinise the kind of vocabulary we employ in our deliberations—“girly”, “boyish”, and many such adjectives bereft us of the fluidity of gender. This is one of the main grounds where women try to detach themselves from the idea of femininity. And I believe it is this affiliation of femininity with vanity that leads them to some point start hating themselves because they don’t stand up to the definitions laid down by our patriarchal oppressive society.
The whole idea of not associating with “other girls” should make us ponder that who is exactly the “other girl”?
We have a fixated idea about certain aesthetics which we relate to girls in particular – a girl who likes reading, journaling and drinks coffee but this girl will never go to clubbing, then we have a girl who is sexually independent, drinks alcohol and smokes but we can never find her reading or staying at home thus we find how these aesthetics that hardens a discriminating prototype by eliminating fluidity of choice for any woman.
Girls from a very tender age are acclimatised to such an environment where we are humiliated if we are either feminine, soft, empathetic, emotional, vulnerable or sensitive.
This is brewed in a male dominated society where things that are allied with women are seen as infirm and puny. Of course these also lead us to question how men who shed tears are condemned by dictums like “Are you a girl?”, “Stop whining like a teenage chic” and many such statements which clearly indicates how feminine qualities are seen as not good enough in a patriarchal society.
We have internalised acceptance of supremacy that perpetuates a female “type” and stereotypes women in water tight compartments. Thus, the ingrained patriarchy in our DNA and the only way to tame this internalised misogyny is to check our vocabulary that moulds and solidifies the entrenched notions of patriarchy and constantly unlearning and relearning the various facets of feminism.