*Entirely aware of how absolutely paradoxical and hypocritical this statement is coming from a woman.
I remember actively ranting to friends and family in 2015 and 2016 how entirely idiotic and contradictory it is that women still hate on women in this day and age. “It’s two-thousand-and-effing-sixteen!” I remember saying. But, unfortunately, not a lot has changed by two-thousand and effing-seventeen either.
Internalised misogyny is still at large, and we’ve seen it in the press this week from keyboard warriors attacking Lady Gaga at the Super bowl via twitter for apparently looking fat. Yes, FAT in the below picture:
Even designer Gabbana from Dolce and Gabbana criticised her looks – further demonstrating how the industry are still immobilised by false allusions of the feminine ideal.
Despite the fact you can still see her ribs and is probably a Hollywood size 0, her absence of washboard abs apparently pushes her to the foreground amongst American obesity. But fuck me, if this is fat then I hope I’m this fat by the time I’m 30 years old.
Yet what’s most infuriating is that the Twitter trolls didn’t just come from men (as if that in itself is acceptable or at least expected), but from women. Real life and ordinary women who I would bet my last pound doesn’t have a body even close to Gaga’s. So why do we feel the need to project our own insecurities onto other successful women? After all, the discussion of Gaga’s dress choice dominated over her undeniably talented performance.
Projecting insecurities isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s why bullying still happens in schools all over the world. It’s where hatred stems from. Insecurity is the ugly twin to jealousy, and the only way we can stamp them out is together. Criticising other women in any way just continues that endless cycle. We condition our daughters to hate their bodies by doing so, and we become conditioned into thinking and inspiring hatred.
So I don’t blame the women that did criticise Gaga. It’s not their fault. Society made us this way since birth to reject celebrating female success and to reject our own natural bodies. A study in US primary schools demonstrated an alarmingly increasing rise in young girls as young as six who believed that the boys in their class were destined for success, thinking that brilliance is a male ‘trait’. I remember feeling something similar when I was at school. While the boys played and enjoyed their childhood, the girls learned to hate. We learned to hate one another and to hate ourselves. We were in competition from the day we were born, and the only way to stop this wagon wheel from snowballing out of control is to stop the hate within your own mind, girls, and it takes a lot of practise. But I know we’re all guilty of that inner snide voice that jumps to attack before you’ve even realised, it’s what to do with it next that counts.
On the flip side women jumping to Gaga’s defence that she is “brave” is still stemmed from the idea that she doesn’t have the idealised and unrealistic body type, but she is brave nonetheless for showing she doesn’t give a fuck on live television. Amy Schumer did a whole comedy sketch on how much of a backwards compliment ‘brave’ is. Your body in clothes isn’t a brave act. It’s barely even an act.
Similarly, comments that suggest Gaga should have maybe “covered up” a little more or worn more “flattering” clothes to avoid press hatred still resides in the complex sphere of internalised misogyny. We’re never going to get anywhere if we have to start covering up our bodies. The press are never going to learn and we as a society are never going to overcome the problem. If we never address it, if we never protest and demonstrate and educate and inspire with our support against the hate, then we really are stuck in a dead end of ignorance.
But what makes these comments all the more weary, is that we do it without even knowing. We don’t even know that these comments ride on the same wave as calling her fat. And they do because you’re still criticising her body for not fitting to the ideal one you have conjured up in your mind.
Furthermore, commenting on a woman’s body by saying she is “too skinny” is just as detrimental as calling her fat. We marginalise ourselves and it is no wonder we are never happy with our bodies because what even is the perfect body? I can guarantee that every woman will tell you a different answer. While Gabbana took back his initial shock, he revelled in the ‘inspirational’ quality of Gaga’s body: it is “the truth, it’s reality”, he says on instagram, “something real and not retouched”. The key word here being ‘something’ and not Gaga’s body. Aside from exploring Gabbana’s imagined ‘reality’ of female bodies – which to him apparently is ranged from a size 0-4 and where women can dedicate 2/3rds of their time to healthy eating and working out with a private instructor – h.e forgets that the ‘reality’ of female bodies is in every single female body we see. We are all real women. We all demonstrate ‘reality’ with our being. We all possess female bodies and therefore represent them. It’s like the infamous celebrity and gossip magazines in the run-up to summer, ‘Top 10 ways to be beach-body ready in six weeks’ they say. The feminists replied, step one: have a body, step two: go to the beach.
Imagine for a minute being a little girl and looking at Lady Gaga on the television at the super bowl. Imagine reading the comments that regard her as wonderfully “brave and inspiring”, as well as all the “fat” comments. The two sides of the spectrum. Yet neither side of them are a positive influence on a young girl’s mind. Heck, even an older woman’s mind can feel hurt by these comments as they look down at their own stomach, their own thighs, their own arms… If Lady Gaga is fat and ‘brave’ for showing that tinsy weensy bit of stomach, then what the hell am I?
I can’t wait for the day it’s not “brave” or “inspiring” for women to show their bodies. I just want it to be normal. What is inspiring, is her disregard to the hatred. In an instagram post she slams the negativity saying, “I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too. No matter who you are or what you do. I could give you a million reasons why you don’t need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed. Be you, and be relentlessly you. That’s the stuff of champions.”
While misogyny in men is no new concept, the fact that women are just as critical is really a type of idiocy I can’t even put into words. When women criticise women they join hands with the oppressor who then continues to oppress them. You become a victim to the male hands you seek approval from and will do your whole life, because essentially that’s why women oppose feminism. They oppose feminism to make themselves seem more attractive to men. They shackle their own hands and say, ‘here, I am your slave, I’m not like those other women.’
A great and recent example of this, is this Daily Mail article from the beginning of January of this year. 2017 was only two days old and the Daily Mail just wanted to remind you that they still hate women by providing an in-depth analysis on British New Year female revellers. Their “indecently” short dresses and binge-drinking rampage which sees them ‘drown’ themselves in jäger bombs with men alike; placing them within the bracket of lad culture or “ladettes”, to which the author continues, is to fill a ‘selfish’ gaping hole in their life. Yes, people can’t have fun in 21st century Britain without being cast upon with some indecent trait. Unless of course, they are men. Men are ‘allowed’. And what’s worse, the ‘journalist’ continues, is that the women have no remorse when hungover the next day… oh my god, the cheek of those selfish bitches. Essentially the article seems to say, “APOCALYPSE NOW: CATASTROPHE TO VICTORIAN FEMININE SOPHISTICATION AND INTEGRITY AS WOMEN CAUGHT IN DRESSES, DRINKING ALCOHOL, AND WAKING UP WITH HANGOVERS!”
The article continues to express its blatant discomfort for women in dresses and ‘indecent exposure’ of body parts. Which they then printed via a gallery on their website. Yes, don’t worry. The Daily Mail spent their New Year’s Eve stalking women and taking perverted pics’ of them so you can voyeuristically objectify them and dismember them on their website! LOOK! A FEMALE BUM! HOW INDECENT! Yet not indecent enough to show the public the exact picture. Don’t worry about the Istanbul shooting either, the Daily Mail say that the UK has a serious and female-only drinking problem. And clothing problem. A seemingly contradictory statement from the Daily Mail whose supporters once screamed ‘ban the Burka’… What exactly are we supposed to wear then?
Regardless, the worst part about this article is that it’s written by a woman. A fucking woman. A woman steeped so high in her own steaming pile of misogynistic shit she can’t see the real picture.
Is this a world you want your daughters to grow up in? Because it certainly isn’t mine.
We are the reason we keep each other back. Internalised misogyny is why there are not enough female representatives and MP’s. Internalised misogyny is why we don’t always get a voice to represent us. Internalised misogyny is why the fictional superhero “Wonder Woman” is the sodding UN ambassador, because apparently, we don’t have any “real” inspirational women fit for the role. Internalised misogyny is why Trump got away with signing the ‘Global Gag Rule’. Internalised misogyny is why you hate your body, your hair, and whatever negative insecurity you burden on your back. Internalised misogyny is why domestic abuse victims can’t leave. Internalised misogyny is why sexual assault victims think it’s their fault. Internalised misogyny is why women suffer with eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and a shit tonne of other mental health issues. Internalised misogyny is why we think we’re not good enough.
Internalised misogyny is something you don’t have to put up with anymore. Let it go, and we’ll all benefit from it.