What is a “Pick-Me” Girl and “Not Like the Other Girls”?
You’ve probably heard all of the nicknames by now. “Pick me” and “not like the other girls (NLTOG)”; these labels are used to expose an apparent internalized misogyny within women, which causes them to want to differentiate themselves from other women and seek male approval. These are insults which are defined on Urban dictionary as follows: a “pick me” girl is essentially, the female version of a "simp". It is a girl who is not offended by blatantly sexist things, because they crave male attention and validation. Such women often say they only hang out with men, because they are "less drama" and are okay with putting down other women for their personal gain, doing everything they can to cater to males (Kathycopp, 2020). Girls labeled as “not like the other girls'' or NLTOG are described as “girls with internalized misogyny, who try to steer away from femininity as much as possible because that makes them "girly" or "weak". They will put down feminine girls to impress men.” The distinguishing difference between these two caricatures is that a “pick me” girl is primarily seeking male approval, while the “NLTOG'' girl is primarily setting herself apart from other women, though many feminists would assert that the origins of both types of women lay in the desire for male approval, whether or not they are consciously aware of it.
There is a problem with this little assertion: it often has no basis, is unwarranted, and has nefarious motives: to silence women with opinions that differ from the majority. This is not to say that women of this caricature do not exist. Certainly, there’s bound to be women who hold certain opinions primarily to seek male attention and who genuinely shame other women for liking popular things and this is a sign of emotional immaturity. However, the term in theory and in application are two completely different things. Women who espouse opinions that differ from those held by the in-group are often labeled “pick mes” or “NLTOG” as a shaming tactic on social media. The terms have become weaponized to be a tool of shame and silence for thought crimes. Women who post memes comparing themselves to other women in a lighthearted, admittedly potentially cringy attempt to be relatable fall into this “not like the other girls” category. However, one must wonder if this phenomenon is really even particular to women. Sure, lots of women may go through a phase in which they feel (misguidedly) that they must reject femininity in order to be unique or interesting, but is that not a characteristic of wanting to be unique and not necessarily a desire for male attention? Moreover, one must consider the possibility that such women who genuinely reject things popularly admired and cherished by other women do exist and this point of view is valid, given that they are not shaming other women for it. Most concerning, however, is how overused it has become (often at the expense of women who were not putting down other women) and how effective it is at naming and shaming women with unconventional views or way of life.
The Feminist Question
The accusations of internalized misogyny have become weaponized to silence certain voices from the public sphere. These people also hide behind the guise of feminist critique and claim that they do so for the sake of empowering or defending women’s rights, while simultaneously silencing fellow women for disagreeing with them. Most commonly, women who are antifeminist or who reject the feminist label are targets for public smearing. Often, this woman is characterized as being ignorant, misinformed, or of course, attempting to garner male approval. Less common, however, is the engagement in discourse concerning the woman’s actual arguments. Ad hominem attacks, which are a fallacy and not an argument, are unfortunately usually effective and persuasive. The real motive, I believe, is a desire to promote conformity. According to studies on gender and cultural differences in conformity, on average, women are more concerned with connecting to others and maintaining group harmony. While men are more likely to hold their own ground in public, as they have more of a concern for the appearance of possessing status, women are more likely to conform to the opinions of others in order to prevent social disagreement. These differences are less apparent when the conformity occurs in private (Eagly, 1978, 1983). This is sort of a “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” situation. Women may feel compelled to shame women for holding different opinions, because they are violating this conformity principle and other women are also encouraged to do the same, to prevent disharmony or social disagreement.
The Invalidation and Erasure of the Traditional Woman
Ironically, NLTOGs are often characterized as women who reject femininity or things often revered by women, yet it’s often third wave feminists who shame these women for choosing to be in a traditional relationship, to cook for their partners, or being a housewife, often accusing them of being a “pick-me” for doing so. However, some women genuinely desire to be stay at home mothers, have no interest in a career, and their primary objective in life is to have children. Over the years, this type of woman has become not only erased, but invalidated in the name of feminism. A woman’s choice to partake in a certain relationship dynamic and to spend her time how she pleases is of no one else’s concern but her own. A common trend on Tik Tok is for any traditional woman filming her day as a caretaker who performs domestic duties (nevermind that her husband is almost always supporting her financially) is for women who don’t approve of this lifestyle to comment one of these labels as an insult. However, if we as women do not respect and encourage women to make their own choices, then what even is feminism? Another commonly shamed type of woman in the online sphere is the woman who espouses conservative ideals. While it is perfectly valid to disagree, debate, or take offense to certain political beliefs, what is not appropriate is to relegate other women’s opinions as a pitiful attempt to seek male attention. Women have agency, they can and do think differently from other women, and are not required to be spokespeople for feminist theory. Whether this is a coping mechanism for jealousy or competition, it’s certainly taken on the form of targeted harassment and it’s not a good look.
The next time you accuse a woman minding her own business of being not like the other girls, maybe just maybe, she is. Women are not a monolith, and we do not all belong to the same echo chamber.
Eagly, A. H. (1983). Gender and social influence: A social psychological analysis. American Psychologist, 38(9), 971–981. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.38.9.971
Kathycopp. (2020, April 15). “Pick-me” girl. Urban Dictionary. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=%E2%80%9CPick-Me%E2%80%9...
Kdramaddict. (2020, December 8) Not-like-other-girls. Urban Dictionary. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Not%20Like%20Other%20Girls