Once upon a time, many years ago, in a land far away, the big, strong men of the world battled, and courageously vanquished a foe that had ruled society for far too long: sexism. And the women of the world lived happily ever after, with all their rights restored, their dreams fulfilled, and respect bestowed upon them. Except, that’s not what happened. It is a huge misconception that misogyny is no longer prevalent in the 21st-century world.
Misogyny exists in various facets of life. The most obvious and in-our-faces are the topics of family dinner politics. While we MUST keep talking about our rights to our bodily autonomy and safety, that’s not what I want you to take away from my writing. Instead, I want to highlight what I feel is lacking from our intellectual discussions: the underlying attitudes of men and women alike towards the ‘female species’; how misogynists have cleverly disguised their resentment of women as trendy microaggressions; the dehumanizing shelf life of a woman. These are conversations you cannot elicit without the risk of being dramatic, a social justice warrior, or too much. These are the topics your male friends might scoff at and call you sensitive for. These are facts that threaten the people who are just sexist enough to frustrate you, but not enough to ding the misogyny light bulb.
It is important to preface that I too am guilty of the following. We all are, whether subconsciously or intentionally. Misogyny is ingrained into us. It is taught and encouraged behaviour. If you recognize your own mistakes here, learn and do better.
A society that loves to hate women
If you were anywhere online in recent months, you would have seen the drama between Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber. Maybe you watched some TikToks about mean girl behaviour, or have seen a Watch Mojo video on Top 10 Hailey Copying Selena Moments. Perhaps you were even Team Selena or Team Hailey. Regardless, you will have seen how ruthlessly the internet came together to villainize the latter woman. Millions of vile videos and terrible comments all agree there is a clear and acceptable evil in this scenario that must face social ruin.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that once a young famous woman becomes immensely popular, she is due for a brutal public teardown.” – Laura Brodnik, 2023
One week we manicured our nails with white chrome powder because that’s what the beautiful and respectable Hailey Bieber did. The next week we condemn the embarrassing and disgusting Hailey Bieber and throw out her cosmetic brand products, over a narrative we fabricated. How did we switch it up so fast?
Hailey Bieber is not a lone victim of such an abrupt change in social reception. Jenna Ortega, worshipped since the release of Wednesday, suddenly became a scandal after pictures of her smoking surfaced. Notably, Taylor Swift, America’s sweetheart, became widely known as a “snake” and was as such chased into reclusion in 2016. Unfortunately, there is a name for this “vibes-based” hatred phenomenon.
- coined by Rayne Fisher Quann. As sad as it is, this is a real term people use to describe how “rational critiques are often used to justify visceral and unwarranted criticism” (Juanjo Villalba, 2022). If someone calls a woman out for a behaviour, the woman will be torn to pieces, with her appearance, professional skill, relationships, and choices all dissected by the media and general public. This is especially true of a previously beloved woman, who needs to be “humbled”. After all, there is a limited shelf life for successful women, and devouring her is very enjoyable.
It’s fun to hate girls!
It gets even worse when we realise that this is all a sick hobby, celebrated and rewarded by views and internet validation. A classic example is the “pick-me-girl” trend which became a clever tactic to put girls down. The villains in these skits are the horrible and unredeemable “pick-me’s”, often played by girls themselves. The clever part is that the internet convinced even feminists to think this is a harmless trend. “Women like hunting witches, too. Doing your dirtiest work for you.” – Taylor Swift, 2020.
Although the pick-me-girl character is new, before that, we had the “fake girl,” the “popular girl,” the “dramatic girl.” For so long, we have been entertained by content that fuels our aggression towards women and gives us a reason to hate young girls with bold personalities.
“Many content creators, however, flock to impersonate pick-me girls, not to explain the toxic roots of the phenomenon but to demonize other women” – Marsha Phoebe, 2023
Before you say that this is a chronically online take, search for one of these videos and just read the comments. Disturbing, right? Or is it okay to express that you want to be violent towards these girls? Also, why are all those videos about the girls in those situations, and not about the boys who conditioned them like that?
The hypocrisy that plagues us
There is a clear double standard between women and men in almost every situation, so this should honestly not be such a surprise. It is, however, deeply frustrating. I will never forget how the internet terrorised Amber Heard, a victim of domestic abuse, after finding out she returned the treatment to the beloved and poor Johnny Depp. How the internet made fun of her, ridiculed her, called her a liar, discredited her, all so readily and happily, like they were waiting for it. Although both celebrities were abusers and victims of each other, Amber Heard got dragged through the mud, and Johnny Depp was put on the pedestal, all his past sins forgiven a forgotten.
“A famous man has to be branded a sex offender to get the complete pariah treatment. Famous women just have to rub us the wrong way.” – Jeremy Helligar, 2021
I don’t care who you think was the bad guy, because objectively speaking, neither of them was innocent. The fact of the matter was that this trial gave misogynists an excuse to be vocal and proud about their hatred for women.
These are just recent examples we’ve seen with big names in the news. In the real world, women are hated with just as much passion too, for their choices, their opinions and their hobbies. Teenage girls get endless ridicule for their “fan-girling” while grown men fan-boying over sports is normal and even expected. Absent fathers are troubled men, while absent mothers are demons that tear apart the nuclear family. Feminist men are woke and deserve love and appreciation, while feminist women are annoying. The only conclusion I can come to as a young woman myself is that the world hates women.
These pervasive double standards and judgements need to be called out and challenged. Unless we target these underlying gender-based aggressions, there will be little progress in eradicating misogyny.