Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
August 16, 2022

Why saying “not like other girls” is damaging

By GEMMA S | October 20, 2016


Via Girls can’t use toxic phrases like “not like other girls” without distancing themselves.

I’m not a bitch. I don’t gossip. I don’t betray my friends. I don’t care about my appearance. I don’t care what other people think. I don’t judge anyone. I’m not a ditz. I’m sporty. I’m smart. I’m ambitious. I’m a hard worker.

I’m not like the other girls.

I, with all my exemplary and positive qualities, am not like any other girls. Because other girls have only horrific and negative qualities — qualities I myself would never possess.

In saying you are not like the other girls, you associate all the bad qualities which you detest with the female gender. All females must then be bitches. Bitches who gossip, betray their friends, care about their appearance, judge others, fail at sports and suffer in school.

If you aren’t like the other girls, then is the entire female gender the stigma you are attempting to avoid?

Why is it that to be an interesting, complex individual, you can’t be a girl?

The statement “I’m not like the other girls” carries a dual meaning. Firstly, it underscores the idea that girls are intrinsically bad, so bad that it is necessary to distance ourselves from our own gender. Secondly, this statement often arises when attempting to gain approval from boys, insinuating that male approval takes precedence over female support.

But even when women claim not to be like “other girls,” they still maintain their femininity, a femininity that submits to the male definition of the perfect and archetypal woman. No one has ever asserted, “I’m not like the other girls because I don’t shave my armpits.”

The statement “I’m not like the other girls” means, in its essence, “I am a fun, interesting and intelligent person, a person who also happens to be a woman, but only a woman in the feminine (but not too feminine) way you want me to be. I can drink beer and watch sports, but I won’t be too smart, too sporty, too into drinking beer. I mean, sometimes I drink wine, but only moderate and classy amounts that make me intriguing but, of course, not stuck up like any of those other wine-drinking girls.”

We separate ourselves from other girls to gain approval from boys. We put other women down to be exalted by men.

My individual qualities, whether I happen to be a bitch who gossips about my friends or a girl who repaints her nails seven times a week, are not related to my gender. Boys can be bitches. Boys can be high maintenance. Girls can be bitches. Girls can be high maintenance. We can all be sh*tty, horrific and deplorable people if we want to be.

But no boy has ever said, “I’m not like the other boys.”

Being a horrible person has nothing to do with being a woman. If you are a terrible person, who also happens to be a woman, you are still just a terrible person. Should you change your ways? Probably. But one woman’s awful behavior doesn’t apply to all the other women in the world.

To other girls, bitches and otherwise, I will never try to distance myself from you.

I am a female. So yes, I am like the other girls.

Gemma S. is a freshman Writing Seminars major from Seattle.

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