By: Kara Lynch
It’s a Saturday night. My girls and I are pregaming and pre-glamming, taking sips of vodka sodas between putting on mascara. Another friend arrives and is greeted with, “Hey slut!” The first time I heard that word, I was seven years old watching “Mean Girls.” Every time it was said, I lowered the TV because I was afraid my mom would come in and say I was too young for this, as moms often do with films that have too much cursing. To me, “slut,” “hoe” and “whore,” were curses, never to be said or heard. “Mean Girls” quickly became a trademark, exemplary tale of the average high school experience for American girls. Instead of becoming upset by teens calling each other sluts, we became desensitized.
Slangs & Set Backs
15 years later, women are calling each other sluts as a term of endearment and The
For every woman who uses “slut” as a term of endearment comes a woman who uses it maliciously. It often seems like you’re more likely to be bullied with the term by a woman as opposed to a man. But if women want
After watching Stewart’s TEDx Talk, I learned that women often demonstrate relational aggression in the workplace. This includes any form of gossiping, publicly insinuating comments, public humiliation, divulging secrets, sabotaging and undermining. Studies show that when little girls play together they make sure everyone has the same amount of toys and feel included. Subconsciously, they are leveling the playing field to make sure everyone has equal. 20 years later women in the workforce are doing the same. So they gossip and undermine, subconsciously and consciously, to keep the playing field level. This can erode a women’s sense of self-worth and keep women from accessing their true, professional potential.
Who remembers the infamous scene from “Mean Girls” when the girls are comparing their insecurities in the mirror? At that moment, the playing field was level because each girl had insecurities and they were all equally unhappy. Twisted as hell, I know, but is it not another example of how women keep each other equal? Frankly, I don’t remember preschool Kara, but I see that relational aggression is real and hindering us from progress.
Culture & Competition
While Kris Stewart’s findings are cool, I have another theory. Our American culture conditions us to compete. We’re told that in order to step up professionally, we must step on someone. We’re constantly being taught in school, sports and work that “better” means better than someone else. This culture affects everyone, however, women are prime targets and as a result, develop insecurities that stick for life.
Magazines photoshop models to look thinner, more European, and will even alter the model’s original skin tone. The photos set unrealistic standards of beauty which cause women to strive and compete for perfection for life. We begin to think, if I can’t look like her, then I’m gonna hate her, forever. The bullying most women endure derives from insecurities and a culturally embedded ideal that other women are better than us. All women are beautiful but in different ways. I was never educated on embracing the uniqueness in every woman’s beauty. But I vividly remember being told that someone was always prettier, skinnier and simply better than me. And guess what? It wasn’t men telling me.
A Final Message to My Queens
The law of attraction states that positive energy attracts positivity and negative energy attracts negativity. Currently, women remain contributors to our own oppression. If women continue to call each other sluts, then everyone else will. If women continue to bully each other, then everyone else will. Competition, relational aggression, and unrealistic beauty standards contribute as well. But as the famous nineteenth-century hairdresser Elizabeth Holland once said, “No one can do more mischief to a woman than a woman, perhaps one might reverse the maxim and say, do more good.” Message me your crown size.