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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Overcoming the Acrimony That Divides Women (2007)

"We need each other. Discouraging words, belittling other girls in front of boys, laughing looks...have no place here. Dialogue does. Let's make girl love real, okay?"- Kathleen Hanna

To make girl love real, we need to get over girl hate. Cattiness and bitchy attitudes toward other women are an everyday experience of most American women, and for some reason it is rarely questioned or thought of as a problem. It’s pretty much time for this to change. Overcoming the Acrimony That Divides Women

by Maggie and Sylvia

"We need each other. Discouraging words, belittling other girls in front of boys, laughing looks...have no place here. Dialogue does. Let's make girl love real, okay?"- Kathleen Hanna

To make girl love real, we need to get over girl hate. Cattiness and bitchy attitudes toward other women are an everyday experience of most American women, and for some reason it is rarely questioned or thought of as a problem. It’s pretty much time for this to change.

Our whole lives, the society and culture we live in have taught us that it is acceptable for women to hate each other. This is really convenient for the patriarchal men that run the system we live in since it is one more thing that allows them to divert our attention away from their control over us. They produce the media we absorb, the products we consume, the institutions we belong to, almost everything. Everywhere we look, we see negative interactions and relationships between women, and because this is the world we have grown up in, we have come to accept this without question. If I’m looking through a magazine, and I see a picture of Paris Hilton or Hillary Duff, we’re programmed to immediately think something along the lines of “I hate them,” “slut,” “disgusting,” “stupid.” This is the problem we’re talking about. It’s this arbitrary hate of other women that is preventing us from working against those who are oppressing us and making us feel this way.

Women in other countries are more united by their oppression than we are, and they do not experience this level of animosity toward each other. When they come to America, one of the culture shocks they face is the bitterness between women here. In many other countries where women are oppressed, they watch out for and take care of each other, while we plan ways to backstab each other and to make each other look bad in front of other people. Instead of pitying the plight of these women from often more extreme patriarchal countries, like we frequently do, we first need to learn a lesson from them and take care of ourselves and our girlfriends before we judge other women and their situations.

When the feminist movement was in full swing in the 1970’s, the word “sisterhood” was a big deal. Today, you barely ever hear it, and may not even understand what it means. Sisterhood is the bond between all women, no matter their class, race, age, or sexual orientation that exists because of the oppression we’ve all been through for the past thousands of years. The reason sisterhood has not been achieved in American society is because the feminist movement has failed to recognize the differences of women with individual circumstances, such as class and race. Although women of color face similar injustices from the patriarchal system, they also have to deal with racism in the system which complicates their situations. Obviously, in order to achieve sisterhood, these differences need to be taken into account and not brushed aside as they have frequently been in the past.

Something else that has prevented us from loving other women is the fact that we first learn its ok to have negative attitudes toward women, and since our patriarchal society is destructive to our self-esteem this causes us to lash out against other women in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. This is not conducive to our ultimate goal of sisterhood, and it’s not helping us liberate ourselves. We need to look at our own problems and issues with self-esteem before we attack other women, which is difficult to do in our society because we haven’t always been encouraged to analyze our own insecurities. Also, because the goals of the current patriarchal system we live in are opposed to our own, we need to change the thinking patterns that it has instilled in us. As Inga Muscio writes in her book Cunt, “acrimony is a way of general socialized American life until you decide you don’t want it that way no more.” This means we must choose to consciously rethink the way we treat other women and interact with them in our personal lives. Although this may seem difficult at first, it is entirely possible and is very important if we are to get over girl hate and help further sisterhood. So the next time you see a girl and you think “slut” or “dyke” or “fatty” or any other negative thought, ask what aspects of yourself you see in them, and until you come to terms with it, don’t judge other women. We need to understand each other and unite if we want to make life better for all of us.

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