Monday, February 3, 2014

Yes, I Do Take Offense If You Say You Hate Girls

Edit: When I say "girl" here, I am mainly using the words as a generic word for females, as I use "guy" for males. I also use "girl," "woman," and "female" interchangeably because I didn't want to use only one term and "female" sounds too sterile to use very often. There is of course a difference between adolescent girls and adult women, but that's not my focus here.

The first time I heard a girl say, "No offense, but I hate girls. Girls only cause drama," I got to admit, I DID take offense. That was probably when I was a teenager, but I heard it more frequently as I got older, oddly enough--adult women are even more comfortable admitting that they hate their own gender than teens are. I try not to take offense, even though it is downright offensive, and akin to me saying, "No offense, but I hate Hispanic people. They're so uneducated and [insert negative stereotype here]." My being Hispanic wouldn't make it okay for me to be a racist jerk, and your being a girl doesn't make it okay to be a sexist punk.

To the women and girls who say that, I may have offended you by saying what I just said, and I'm sorry about that. Please try to not take offense and take that personally, because I'm trying not to take offense at your telling me you hate what I am and what you are and what both our mothers are. Even when the "I hate girls" has an addendum of "I mean, I love my female friends, of course," it still rankles me quite a bit. Again, imagine me saying that about Hispanics. I would sound like a massive jerk.

Not that I think all the girls who say that actually even hate girls or truly believe that 99% of the 3.5 billion women in the world are basically drama-crazed mean girls (who possibly are Regina George clones??). I'm sure many have been burned by shallow girls, and those who are very young may have not had the privilege of meeting many genuinely kind girls in their lives thus far. 

For the women who "hate girls", I assume that they were burned in the past and saying they hate their own sex has become such a habit that they don't think it's an odd thing to say to a bunch of females, some of whom are their friends.

I do have friends who say this. And I'm including them when I say that having such an abundance of female friends all my life has been one of the greatest blessings in my life.

Growing up with sisters might've helped (though girl-haters may have many sisters!), but I never saw any reason to hate all girls any more than to hate all boys. Girls could be mean, but they could also be kind--just like me, just like boys too, just like any human being. I didn't even think about the gender of my friends till I was probably a pre-teen. By then, I had spent years growing up in a church community of boys and girls. We all ran and screamed and accidentally hit one boy's dad's car with a ball, setting off alarms. One girl in our little gang wore a dress all the time, but she ran too, and later on we all played soccer on mixed-gender teams (my one sporting enterprise!) and no one thought anything of it.

As I grew older, I had crushes on the boys I knew best (if any of you are reading this, which I doubt, I had a crush at different points on all of you except one). But they were still friends. The girls were friends too and I never felt a need to choose, aligning myself to the friendship of a single gender. In middle and high school, I was part of a homeschool group, where there were strata of popularity and I was on a fairly low stratum, above the kids who smelled or who dressed like Mennonites, but definitely below most people. (I like to think that being the loser in a homeschool group proves that some people are innately popular or unpopular, and explains why some people are stars wherever they go and some will always be the geeks.)

I was comfortable with guys, though the unpredictability of new guys definitely made me more uncomfortable than my old guy friends, for whom the predictability of the years could over-ride the mysteries of their gender. Yet, for several years, I did remain friends with that guy at summer Bible camp who was always trying to stroke my leg whenever no one was looking. The first time was on the porch and I could tell from the way he asked if I was scared that he wanted me to be scared, so I said no, and pushed him away. The second time was during a prayer at lunch when he knew I wouldn't jump up and make a scene, so I just got up afterwards and I believe I had another male friend switch seats. Of course, looking back on that and writing it, I realize how truly creepy that all sounds. Not all guys I knew were like that; that boy was a rarity. But guy friends are by no means perfect and I can't imagine relying solely on the male gender as if it were somehow superior to my own. 

Guys also make drama. I remember a certain relationship drama that the guys I grew up with blew out of proportion. For the privacy of my friends, I won't say too much, but I recall being surprised at how it was the boys who spurred on the rumors and fed the drama, making an issue with each other, and making many friends feel like they had to choose sides. The girls I spoke to had heard the gossip from the guys and mostly were spectators to the drama-fest. Not long ago, a teen girl I know was getting texts from a guy friend asking if she "liked" a mutual guy friend who had just started a relationship. She kept on saying no, but the texts continued, clearly driven by a hunger for drama. Finally, the texts got argumentative and they stopped, so the friendships all continued--a drama begun by a boy but defused by a girl.

I've known shallow girls, girls who put others down and need to be the center of attention, but I've known guys like that too. Those are just people who suck, to put it in the very nicest PG terms possible. They come in all chromosome combinations, all colors, all builds, all income levels, and even all ages. If only we could establish that one single group was made up of drama-craving monsters, we could, I dunno, exterminate them ASAP  quarantine them and put them on a strict diet of kids' movies that show mean kids getting what they deserve and nice kids winning. But sadly, drama-hungry slugs are found among every group of people.

If only all mean girls made their dark natures apparent at first glance with weird dead eyes and obnoxious graphic tees!
When I think of girls, I don't think of dramarama and gossip. I think of some of the most reasonable, strong, genuine, and earth-shaking people I've ever known. I know women who have wits that make you want to give them a standing ovation every single time they speak. I know women who are determined to reach their goals and nothing stands in their way. I know women who are so kind and loving that your head will drop in shame because they're speaking from their warm hearts. I know women who go about fighting for what they believe with astounding dedication. I know women who juggle a million different pursuits--family, career, hobbies, etc. with more skill than many do with a single pursuit.

I thought of women I've befriended in all those categories (and more)...and you know, sometimes I've found those women annoying. Girls aren't perfect, just like anyone in the human race. I feel like I shouldn't be saying "heyyy, girls are people" because WE ALL KNOW THAT but sometimes, reading crap articles on the internet about women, I really wonder how many people truly understand that.

Thus the creation of Asha (Yara) Greyjoy, possibly my favorite female character ever. Also, recalling women are people will make you a better novelist, I swear, but that's another post.
Incredible females in my life showed me not to be hindered by stereotypes. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, but she wasn't a delicate flower--she was fierce. She never said, "Wait till your father comes home!..." to us; she took care of discipline herself. She taught us every day and even when I wasn't using the best curricula, I was learning independence. She told me I would go to college and get a job, and yeah, sure I would hopefully get married and have kids, but the first time I heard that a woman's main purpose on the planet was to reproduce and that was the only way she'd be happy and fulfilled was from a man (not a relative) years later. Never from my mother. 

My older sister is strikingly well-behaved and so morally upright that it makes people apologize to her for swearing in her presence and used to grate on me, but she is willing to take controversial stances and argue for it in a way that always baffled her elders, whether they're more conservative or liberal than she. I've been known to say in debates, "My sister has a really good argument for why that's actually not wrong...let me try to remember it because it convinced me." She will cry "like a girl," but she's also the most emotionally strong person you will ever meet, because she can't be actually beaten down by anything in this world. My little sister is beautiful and slender, but she also has the sharpest humor and can match wits with anyone she comes across. She also can drop down from a standing position right into a military-style push-up and that is literally her idea of fun. At the same time, she is compassionate and forgiving, which is why she has such a consistently steady following of younger kids who can't even verbalize why they admire her.

A dear friend of mine from high school is the classiest young woman I've ever met, but she is also stubbornly opinionated and deeply thoughtful. I don't always agree with her and we argue or nearly argue often, but no matter what, I always respect that she isn't afraid to have her opinion. She's actually a little scary, and sometimes I think she has the intensity and strength to play a very regal sort of queen in a movie. I remember not long ago (I hope she won't mind me sharing this story) when she told me that she could never imagine agreeing to a husband's opinions if her own understanding stood at odds with his. This may not seem like a big deal, but in a Christian community, particularly from a person who appears very demure at first glance, a woman saying that her theological opinions are solid enough that she'd argue with even a wise man till she found strength enough in his ideas to change her own is absolutely major.

My oldest friend (who isn't related by blood) is a stay-at-home mom now, and yeah, she cooks dinner for her husband and she takes care of the house. But she will also break down for you why she hates gender stereotypes and why they're damaging to individuals, relationships, and our culture. When she talks, her husband, a considerably more reserved person, listens and looks at her with respect. She is ready to look at tradition and separate what's right from what's wrong, without holding back for tradition's sake. She listens to my career dreams and my ramblings about single guys, and she has advice at times or just hears me out. She also matches my extraordinary levels of nerdiness, as was proven in a recent event that I'm actually not going to share because I'm still stunned that she and I actually DID that. Growing up, she was a second older sister, and never made me feel silly or small.

I could go on and describe more women in my life, but honestly, that was really tiring because it's hard to document awesomeness. My point is that among my female friends are some truly wonderful people who don't deserve to be hated for the stereotypes of their gender, but actually admired and sought out by people because they will challenge you and make your life better and more interesting.

This is why I've decided to not be offended by girl-hating girls. I feel sorry that they don't know the people I know. There are billions of incredible girls out there--more than I'll ever know. More are being born every day. I know toddler girls who are already wonderful little people.

Knowing how amazing my gender can be challenges me every day to be a better person. If you, as a girl, can honestly say, "I hate girls," what are you saying about yourself? You're better than most? That's a little egotistical, not to mention statistically improbable, so let's be generous and say that you include yourself as a drama-seeking little rat. In which case, are those really the standards you want to set for yourself? There's more to attain to, and lumping your whole sex in as sharing a singular flaw deserving hatred is hardly going to make you a stronger and more excellent person. It's going to make you shrug your shoulders and not try too hard. If girls can be awesome, you can too. So let's not only try to be a little more careful about slinging our "hate" around, but let's strive to reach our full potential as human beings. Gender won't hold you back, but your misogynistic gender stereotype probably will.

Written for Ink Spots Blog Initiative prompt #3: What did you have more of growing up: guy friends or girl friends? Why do you think this is and how has it affected you? 

Currently listening to:

Disney's Lilo and Stitch Soundtrack
"He Mele No Lilo"


  1. This is an incredible post. Wow. This iss the most excellent thing I have read is some time.

  2. I think what you highlighted here is the important difference between girls and women. Girls are immature and prone to drama, but we forgive it because it's part of growing up but it isn't always easy to cope with. (I say that as a woman who was a fairly dramatic girl and who is raising a VERY dramatic preschooler at the moment). But being women means growing out of this and maturing into the kind of strong, moral, upright people you described above. We've mistaken physical development for emotional maturity. I don't dislike girls, they are still growing and changing, trying to find out who they are. But I do find those "girls" who should have become women long ago rather tiresome. I feel the same about boys who refuse to become men. I used to think that I didn't like girls much because I didn't have many female friends when I was a teen. Now I realize I'm just an introvert which is part of why I have trouble making friends period. The long term requirement and constant social media and electronic communication barrage necessary to maintain a friendship in the 21st century is exhausting.

  3. Bravo, friend. This was a rocking post. This deserves applause. I know most of the women you mentioned, and I have to agree - they are fantastic, strong women who are amazing (as are you!). I love your family, and I love your mom. I do have a few questions, however. Ok, really one: WHICH ONE?

  4. Oh, my. This was taking a stand, and I loved it. You really spiked every argument for the "I hate girls 'cause drama" excuse; like, every "Yeah, but" my brain wanted to express, you sufficiently addressed it. So this was very skillfully composed. And it was also a very personal essay, and I liked how you highlighted different women in your life. It's time to end the girl-hating. Thanks for writing this. :)