The trope that women hate women never feels true to me, even though I read the Phyllis Chesler book and I work with teenage girls, who are supposed to be the worst bullies of all. They’re not. Teenage girls experience the gamut of human emotion including a desire for power, which they rarely achieve via any other means but their sexuality — how “hot” they are; what they’re wearing; which guys want to date them. When they behave badly, it’s usually a sane reaction to an insane situation — an understandable response to a toxic culture that ensmallens them; asks them to be sexy but not “slutty,” (i.e. sexual); to self-objectify and see themselves through male eyes. This isn’t news. Have you listened to any mainstream hip-hop lately, the kind they played at my gym this afternoon? Watched any cable TV? Seen what’s new in free online pornography? (Skip the vileness and check out one angry girl instead).
Anyway. The subject of single-sex education came up in a staff meeting today, and the other 15 people at the table agreed that they would ONLY teach at a boys’ school because girls are “mean.” They’re “bitchy.” They “turn on each other.” I was fucking horrified, of course, so I said I’d much rather teach girls because, when you take boys out of the equation, they tend to calm down, re-focus, and do amazing things academically and socially.
Several of my colleagues laughed quietly at me. I could read their faces: Yeah, of course, she’s a dyke. The woman sitting next to me, who teaches a male-dominated subject required to succeed in most high-earning careers, hardly looked up from her grading but I saw her face as 60 years’ worth of rage and bitterness broke the tight surface and she said, with real hatred in her voice, “I hate women. They’re nasty and two-faced; you can’t trust them.”
“All of them?” I asked, thinking STOCKHOLM SYNDROME STOCKHOLM SYNDROME YOU HAS IT.
“Most,” she scowled. “I prayed to have only male children, and I got what I wanted.”
I gently posited that the world hates women, so naturally we begin to hate ourselves — had she listened to any rap or accidentally clicked on any porn lately; had she ever heard the term ‘internalized misog’–
“I don’t hate women because of porn,” she said, viciously inking an “F” at the top of a unit test. “I hate them because they’re shallow, petty bitches.”
What I wanted to ask, of course, was this: Are you like “most” women, or are you an exception? If you’re an exception, how — and by whom, and with what — have you been rewarded? Does your special, non-bad-woman status make you feel more worthy? Does it make you immune to the dangers and degradations “most” other women fear? Are you magic? Also, do you hate yourself, or just the rest of us? Where is your disconnect? Can you hear yourself? Do you know that the girls hear you, too? Every single day?