Not like the other girls: The Consequences of Internalized Misogyny

By: Janani

A phenomenon that surfaced first in the early 2000s, the “not like other girls” rhetoric finds its roots in a still deeply patriarchal society. It stems primarily from the mockery of women and things that are considered traditionally effeminate, even in the most subtle forms. For example, the phrases “You throw like a girl” or “Don’t cry like a girl” are used with taunting connotations, reinforcing the notion that being “feminine” is inherently shameful, thereby encouraging the idea of a lesser gender. Another example is socializing revulsion towards the color “pink” in young boys simply because it has been designated as unmanly. There are numerous examples of this behaviour that are so widespread and normalized in society.
What exactly is the “not like other girls” peculiarity that pervades the minds of so many impressionable young women? It is the mentality that adheres to conventional gender norms and conforms to societal expectations of femininity that is distasteful. The seeds of doubt planted by patriarchal aversion to female agency have grown into the monstrous weed of self-loathing and contempt in young girls who grow up in a world where everything that is associated with them is subject to derision. All of this has led to the popularly dubbed “not like other girls” mindset, wherein women join in on the mockery of femininity.
The representation of women in popular media plays a significant role in how young girls who consume it are socialized. This social conditioning, influenced by the media, peers, and even authority figures, causes many girls to reject and demean traditional femininity. When they are constantly made to feel inferior for expressing certain qualities, the desire to be “different” and “not like other girls” is inevitable.
A certain disdain forms for women who prefer traditionally feminine things and are never associated with patriarchal-approved traits like intelligence or depth. This treatment of certain qualities as mutually exclusive of femininity asserts a false dichotomy.
“You can’t be both smart and attractive,” “you can’t like makeup and video games,” and “you can’t be both “girly” and not at all “girly ; all of these only push the idea that you cannot associate femininity with other characteristics. And when the former is subject to mockery, impressionable young women are left with no choice but to choose the latter.
All these misogynistic ideas that are carelessly thrown about fester and accumulate in the young minds that experience them. The “not like other girls” phenomenon was never about trying to be like men or compete with other women. Rather, it is a difficult journey of discovering oneself. 
Speaking from personal experience, I admit that I was also someone who wished to be “not like other girls.” I put on a façade of despising pink, cast aside my dolls, abstained from frilly dresses, and wore only plain pants and shorts. I was considered a “tomboy,”, disregarding all things “girly.”
But deep down, I did like pink. I did like dolls. I liked stereotypically “boyish” things as well, like video games or sports. I never realized that classifying hobbies with gender binaries was a ridiculous concept and that I was free to like the things that I did, regardless of my gender. 
Because I was afraid. Afraid that I would be seen through that derisive lens that laughed at all those things I secretly liked. I was afraid that I would be just like other “girls,” who I was made to believe were simply one-dimensional caricatures, devoid of character.
Fortunately, like many others who were once victims of this mindset, I realized how wrong I was. With growing social awareness, we matured and learned to accept ourselves and those around us. The “I’m not like other girls” mindset was identified as problematic and is no longer considered an acceptable mindset.
However, now the target of taunting has gone from “other girls”, to the “not like other girls”, who are termed “pick me’s”.  There are numerous social media accounts dedicated to mocking these girls, who are characterized as jealous, obnoxious, unconventionally attractive, and unsocial. 
Isn’t the real problem clearly evident now? A constant mockery of women, in a vicious cycle of misogyny and hatred has never been more obvious.
The only way to break this cycle is to stop reinforcing gender roles and activities in children. If a boy wants to wear pink and play with dolls, let him do so, without derogatorily calling him a “sissy” or “girly”, just so the children that hear this think, “Is there something wrong with being girly?”
If a girl wants to play with trucks and wear shorts, let her do so, without praising or being amused by her apparent lack of femininity, just so the children that hear this think, “So not being girly is a good thing?”
Let people be who they want to be and do what they want to do. There is no need to follow a rigid binary. We are all unique in our quirks and personalities. Be yourself, and do not shame others for doing the same. 


This blog page serves as a platform for the Editorial department of The Hindu Education Plus Club at VIT Vellore. We provide opportunities to budding authors across campus to hone their writing skills. We publish blogs four times a week, where writers can communicate their views on any topic of their choice with our readers.

6 thoughts on “Not like the other girls: The Consequences of Internalized Misogyny

    1. Never thought about this topic. A really good view on the matter and some examples suggested of real life instances are perfectly representative of this issue

  1. I remember reading Famous Five and getting a serious case of not-like-other-girls syndrome when I was young; all thanks to Georgina !

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