Well, well, well, if it isn’t a tale as old as time. Sally dates John. John and Sally break up. Sixth months later, Sally is scrolling on Instagram and sees John with a new girl, Sue. *gasps*
I am sure you can guess where this one is going…
Shocked and hurt, Sally screenshots the post and sends it to her friends in a group chat. Moments later, the group chat explodes into a John and Sue hate party. Most of the slander is geared towards Sue. Shocker! Sally’s friends are quick to point out all the things wrong with Sue in efforts of reassurance. Taking comfort in Sue’s flaws, Sally pledges a life-long vengeance and smear campaign against Sue.
Girls supporting girls at its finest
I’ll leave the rest of the story up to your imagination. But, I would put money on Sally stooping down to Sue’s level at one point. The phrases “sloppy-seconds” and “crazy-ex girlfriend” are the main lines of defense. A lot of social media stalking from both ends is inserted somewhere in there as well. John enjoys a massive ego trip and boner while this takes place. Two girls fighting over him has always been a fantasy of his…Did I predict well?
If you ever attended high school, I am sure the answer is somewhat yes. Chances are most of us have probably–to an extent– played the roles of Sally, Sue, or even both before. To completely out myself over the internet, I am sadly one of the girls who have played both.
It was NOT my finest girls supporting girls moment. No hair-pulling was ever involved, thankfully, but I have definitely held a grudge against the new girl, as well as felt threatened by the old girl. The main thing validating both instances was my own insecurity.
Bitterness and dislike are forms commonly masked behind insecurity. I had no valid reason to dislike either of them other than the fact that they liked the same person I did. It wasn’t a personal attack, but I took it as one.
The real bad guy
Ever notice how in these situations, no one is ever attacking the guy? I mean, how many times have we seen two girls fight over a guy just for one of them to get back together with him afterward? Just downright wrong. Even worse, when all is said and done, the boys will always get a slap on the wrist, but the girl in question will be forever banished to Hell in our book. Now tell me, how is that fair?
Boys in this context like to think it’s their irresistible looks and personalities that cause girls to fight over them. However, the real heart of the matter is in the hands of our own internalized misogyny; the guy and the other girl in the situation are just mirrors of it.
Internalized misogyny is a subconscious occurrence in which women project sexist ideas onto other women and themselves. Also seen as the tendency of some women to regularly put down, make disparaging remarks about, and sabotage their own or other women’s and girls’ identity, potential, and success.
“From Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me to Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend, internalised misogyny has reproduced a toxic culture that pits women against each other, teaching us that we must compete for either male attention or to simply be better than one another. Magazines push the idea in “who wore it better?” spreads and breakup songs do it in their comparisons between the new girl and the ex.”Feminism in India
Toxic belief systems
I now know this wasn’t about the boy. Although I am sure his ego will never forget the time two girls fought to be his homecoming date. Instead, it was a projection of my own internalized misogyny that made me turn my back on any woman who threatened my desire for male validation. Examples like this one serve as a testament to how common it is for women to go against each other to gain male approval.
Although my cat-fight high school days are long gone, internalized sexist beliefs are somewhat ingrained in all of us. These belief systems are constructs fabricated by the patriarchal idea that women need to compete against one another. Society has normalized the male gaze as the only perspective in which a woman’s beauty is admired, while women only recognize it in comparison to their own.
In 2021, these ideas are frowned upon on paper as most women like to think they are a part of the women supporting women movement. However, when you look at how popularized shows like The Bachelor are, these girls vs. girl type of narrative ideas are still heavily normalized and supported.
Why we need feminism, reason no.1000
As someone who claims they are a feminist, nothing brings me down to earth faster than knowing I stooped down to the level of fighting with another girl simply over a boy. However, feminism won’t make you immune to the deeply rooted patriarchal beliefs we were taught growing up.
What feminism can do, though, is bring these toxic belief systems to your awareness. By shining light on all the ways the patriarchy manifests, feminism provides a mirror for us to see how these ideas reflect back into our own lives. From there, we can begin to unlearn all the things we are taught to hate about ourselves that we commonly project onto other women.
Doing this is a life-long practice, and although some may seem, no feminist is perfect. True feminism will allow you to see that the characters of Sally and Sue live somewhere in all of us; it may just be projected differently. Once we see how a projection of a woman’s insecurity is no different than our own, we can then be in tune with the true heart of feminism: viewing and supporting women as equals.