I watched a video recently titled ‘I’m not like other girls’ by Girlsfeed, Buzzfeed India’s panel discussing mainstream issues of toxic masculinity, online dating and other everyday concerns a modern Indian woman faces. This particular video ran me through a series of emotions, ranging from guilt to anger to determination.
Maybe it stung because I’ve been unapologetically on the receiving end of it, from boys, aunties, and myself, always proclaiming ‘but I’m not like other girls’ because I didn’t enjoy make-up and I preferred dungarees over skirts, or I just believed strongly that I had a difference in opinion. In my naivety, I generalised and put down the ‘other girls’, not once seeing anything wrong with that.
We hear it in movies all the time – this statement has subtly infiltrated our pop culture without the audience being aware of the larger social implications statements like these have. What we’ve assumed to be underhanded compliments, what are they really saying?
‘You get math, you’re not like other girls’.
‘You drive well, you’re not like other girls’.
‘You are no drama, you’re not like other girls’.
‘You don’t care about how you look, you’re not like other girls’.
The list goes on.
The problem isn’t if you like math, or if you drive well, it is the implication that your gender, the entire female population is inferior by default and the special-ness, better-ness comes from not being like this gender. Can you now see how that is not okay?
This is where we need to reflect! I realised that I was subscribing to stereotypes and stigmas that were fueling this idea, and it now disgusts me. You will find these thoughts and ideas everywhere, in the course of writing this piece, I stumbled upon an ad on Facebook that read ‘X Blogger looks super cool despite her ultra-feminine dress from Y Brand’. I’ll give you a moment to think about what’s wrong with that sentence.
Being ‘not like other girls’ is not a compliment, it is an insult. A woman’s choices, ideas and beliefs do not make her any less woman, or any more woman. Being like the other women – strong, powerful and multifaceted is a compliment. Not being like other girls doesn’t make you special, being like other girls does.
Stop forcing boxes, opinions, and ideas on people. Quit being a woman who brings other women down. Everyone is flawed, that isn’t fuel for division, it is reason for unity.
Stop the toxic method of communication. If you don’t mean it like that, don’t say it like that. Words create actions.
So, for once and for all the times I said otherwise, I am just like other girls.