Girl-on-girl hate used to be something that separated the popular girls from the unpopular in high school. However, this kind of hate didn’t stay in high school—it continues to follow us in our homes, our families, our congregations, and our workplaces.
What exactly is girl-on-girl hate, and are we guilty of perpetuating it? We’ll talk about the thinking behind negative thoughts and how we can be more supportive of women around us.
What’s the difference between girl-on-girl hate and disagreeing?
To start, girl-on-girl hate is formally known as internal misogyny. Misogyny itself is basically hating women for being female, and internal misogyny is basically other women putting down other women for the sake of competition.
Obviously we live in a world where competition takes place in school, work, and elsewhere. However, it’s really unhealthy to put other women down specifically to impress other like-minded women or to impress men—especially when they haven’t done anything to deserve the negativity.
It’s hard to decipher internal misogyny from disagreement. If you have a disagreement over politics, parenting, or religion, you can likely base your argument on a fact, event, or study that helps you form an opinion or argument. In other words, a disagreement lies within the topic or debate itself.
Girl-on-girl hate is more like a disagreement that lies in a woman’s appearance or supposed character. You dismiss her as a person based on something irrelevant like her looks or hobbies. An example would be judging another woman at the gym because she’s wearing cute, flattering clothing and full makeup. It’s easy to think, “Are you even working out? Afraid to sweat?” Should a woman look good at the gym? Are you getting a good workout if you’re all sweaty? Does it really matter?
The main point is that it’s totally fine to disagree. It’s absolutely acceptable to be your own woman and have your own definition of what it means to be successful and happy. However, every woman has earned that right, too, and if we want our opinions to be respected, we have to show that same respect, even if don’t understand or agree. We don’t get to pick and choose who has agency and who doesn’t.
What’s so bad about internal misogyny?
It’s already bad enough that both men and women have issues with the opposite gender. We don’t get any closer to equality or understanding if women continue to put each other down. The hate is deliberate attacks on femininity: what is considered a “real woman” or a “good women” in society. Whether we like it or not, we have much to work on to ensure both men and women receive equal justice in every aspect of life. Giving into the hate of feminine or girly things (e.g. lots of makeup, expensive clothes, pop music, selfies, and delicate hobbies) is counterproductive if you care about your community or family.
On a more secular level, there are a lot of problems our country faces, and many of them specifically affect women. Even if we disagree in political matters, it’s important to listen to the plights of other women that have issues specifically tied to femininity, such as sexual/domestic abuse, poverty, reproductive rights, equality in the workforce, and more—in America and all over the world.
We may think that we shouldn’t complain about how life is, but plenty of women are pleading for justice, safety, and equality. If we aren’t in need of anything, we should stick up for those who have less. We’ve come a long way as a country because we’ve listened to each other and created compromise. Being each other’s stumblingblocks don’t help anyone. It just leads to bitter online discussions.
How can we be more positive towards other women?
If girl-on-girl hate comes so naturally to us, what can we do to slowly wean ourselves off of it?
The first step is to recognize the behavior. It’s usually a thought or a quip. Sometimes you think something to yourselves or you share it with someone else. It’s really easy, especially if someone we already don’t like does something to annoy us.
The next step is to think deeper about what you’re really saying. For example, if you make a comment about a woman not enjoying sports as much as you, what are you saying? Are you inferring that she’s too ditzy or feminine if she doesn’t understand football? Are you trying to impress someone else by your high interest in sports?
Our thoughts often comes from some inner form of insecurity. We’re already comparing ourselves with other women based on body size, clothing, husbands, homes, and more—if we’re putting someone down, it’s probably because we’re jealous or see them as a threat. Other women are not your enemy—and they’re not determined to ruin your happiness. We can afford to be honest with ourselves to figure out what is actually bothering us.
The final step is to cut off girl-on-girl hate right as it happens. Challenge hateful comments that happens, or replace hate with love. Most people will feel embarrassed if you question their thinking and show it’s not funny to you. If you can’t think of anything nice, you can simply say, “It’s none of my business.”
It may feel forced or silly, but good thoughts said about women to women set the example for others. They either won’t say negative things around you, or they’ll realize that how petty and wasteful it is to dwell on knocking other women down. It definitely sets a good example for your kids if you have them.
Now more than ever, we need to spread positivity and love to those around us. We don’t have to agree or be afraid of thinking differently, but we all deserve respect regardless. There is so much negativity out there in the world and online, and it’s always a struggle to be more mature.
However, I know that even just changing our inner dialog or how we speak of others will make a difference in our communities and help us to be more like our Savior Jesus Christ. In fact, as we try to look for the positive in others, I know Christ will fill us with peace and self-confidence to see ourselves and others as children of God.
How has girl-on-girl hate affected you, and do you have additional insight on how to be more encouraging and positive?