Not Like Other Girls

“Other girls are always drinking pumpkin spice lattes and wearing dresses. I drink black coffee and wear jeans, because I’m not like other girls.”

“Basic bitch” is a term that has entered our everyday vernacular to talk about girls who like typically feminine things, the sting of the insult being that the women that fit this category are typical and boring. Urban Dictionary gives so called basic bitches a scathing review, poking fun at their “averageness” as equating to boring and annoying. Their definition of basic bitches summarizes the attitude of a large portion of online culture, where women who are seen as “typical” are faced with ridicule.

Juxtaposing this are women who try to distinguish themselves from these stereotypes, proclaiming that they are “not like other girls”. Two movie characters who often have the title of not like other girls ascribed to them are Summer from 500 Days of Summer, and Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. These two are fun and quirky, different them from the rest of the women around them. What is important to note is that these characters are usually categorized as not like other girls by their love interests, or by the audience that discusses the movie; but it is worthy to note that this is not a description they use to refer to themselves. For Summer, she actively battles this title by (spoiler alert) breaking off the relationship with the guy that is absolutely infatuated with her.

These popular examples contribute to the image of a certain type of girl – someone who is quirky and non-conformist. She distinguishes herself from what she argues is the hoard of PSL loving zombies, and she receives some sort of a reward for this in the end. In some cases, the process of the rebellion is the reward in itself because she will receive recognition from being not like other girls.

These two contrasting opinions of women, one by Urban Dictionary and the other by popular media, leaves two options for women: would you like to be an insignificant basic bitch by enjoying all the things that other women do, or would you like to be different and appreciated by “everyone” through not being like other women?

Nerds with Vaginas, a popular Facebook page that clocks in at over two million likes, published a post recently claiming that not all women are bad drivers and uninterested in sex, as well as trying to counter other negative stereotypes about women by claiming that not all women are like that. Whether this was meant to be a retaliation against stereotypes, or an effort to distinguish themselves from other women who do adhere to those stereotypes, the underlying message of the post was that not all women are awful, that there are a few very special ones out there. This post is an example of how being bombarded by cultural messages about the downsides of being a woman results in women trying to distance themselves from other women.

I think it is important to recognize that women do not do this because they are catty and hate other women, but because there are a lot of conflicting societal pressures depicting what girls should and shouldn’t be. The Nerds with Vaginas’ post solidifies this with their much-liked example. The not-like-other-girls mentality, paired with a disdain for “typical” women, creates a divide between women, where the goal shifts from supporting each other (with friendly critique) to stepping over each other to be the best for an audience that does not see us. It is a problem worth paying attention to and being aware of, in others, and in ourselves.