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Girl Hate: An Introduction

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"Look pretty fast!" was plastered on top of the page. Underneath were various makeup tutorials that took five, 10 and 15 minutes. I have nothing against lipstick and blush (as seen by the growing collection in my bathroom), but why did I have to paint on a new face to feel good about myself? That article, which appeared in a major teen magazine, is just one example of the increasingly prevalent internalized misogyny within women. A few months ago, I wouldn't have given the seeming harmless editorial piece a second thought; but now, I knew better.

Feminism is usually described as opposing unequal treatment of women by men. From overly sexual rap videos to varying salaries, sexist actions by the opposite gender are fairly obvious. But "girl hate" does exist; its understated quality just makes it much harder to spot. Internalized misogyny doesn't just come in the form of bullying cliques who wear matching outfits reminiscent of the movie Mean Girls. Every time a girl states that she "is only friends with guys because girls are too catty," she is making sweeping generalizations that oppress her own gender. Or when the words "slut" and "whore" are spat at a woman because of her decisions, her own right to choose is being vilified. Even when pop stars portray the "bad girl" in a song as wearing tight clothes and being flirtatious, they are condoning the shaming of other women based on their skewed set of morals.

There have been pushes to combat this self-hate, but they do have faults. Many "body peace" initiatives started by magazines and corporations in order to encourage self-confidence have led to a distorted perception that "real women have curves" and that naturally thin girls are "sickly." The mainstream feminist movement has also struggled with inclusiveness; as an African American, it is sometimes difficult for me to fully support their ideals.

Women are simply burning bridges by submitting to these sexist views insinuated into our minds by society. A woman could proudly declare herself a feminist and in the same breath shame another woman for her choices. No change can happen if we are constantly tearing each other down. Especially within teenage girls, there have been countless cases of relentless harassment leading to serious depression that has a lasting effect on the victim. Even though I have only recently become involved with issues affecting women's rights, I can feel the weight of everyone who has struggled for their beliefs before me. With new issues that affect women surfacing every day, in order to make real progress, we have to stop taking one step forward and two steps back.