By Brittany Tankersley | Photographer
Not liking popular music, movies or fashion doesn’t make you cool. So often, young girls and women fall victim to this idea that our interests are inferior. Listening to Taylor Swift or loving “Twilight” makes you basic and uninteresting. Meanwhile, guys can watch the same action movie and all its sequels twice a week without any objection.
Women are constantly criticized by men for liking completely normal things, but why is that? According to Barry Kuhle, associate professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, demeaning others for liking popular media is a type of superiority complex.
“I think a part of it is virtue signaling; you’re trying to communicate to others that you’re above them, on a different dimension,” Kuhle said in the article.
Belittling women is used not only to flaunt male prestige but also to avoid seeming uneducated about a topic. By minimizing the interests of women, men do not have to talk about topics they know very little about. Instead, they can hide behind harsh words to mask their own insecurity. Kuhle explained it saying, “disparaging what you don’t know takes that weakness away [and] you’ve turned it to a strength, essentially.”
The constant downplay of female interests can make it more difficult for women to succeed in the business world as well. According to Laura Moss, “Mocking teenage girls and portraying their interest as worthless can further reinforce ideas that things created for women and by women are unimportant.” It is true that women face many more obstacles to have their work recognized than the white male faces, and being hypercritical of female interests plays a huge role in that.
Not only do men undercut women for their interest, but other girls are also notorious for aligning themselves with men to appear more likeable and less like “other girls.” This mindset is known as the “cool girl syndrome” and is directly related to the way women are portrayed in various media. In nearly every movie or TV show, women are depicted as catty and fighting over a man. This depiction of women translates to the real world and pits women against one another.
“Women are socialized to be competitive to other women, and we can’t deny how many of us carry that with us our entire lives,” Julie S. Lalonde, Canadian women’s rights advocate, said. “There’s this idea that if you distance yourself from other women and align yourself with men, not only will they ‘choose you’ over other women, but they will treat you with the same respect they show their friends. It’s a phenomenon known as ‘proximity to power’ — the idea that aligning yourself with the person/group in power will give you access to said power.”
In the end, it is about the freedom to enjoy whatever you want to enjoy. There is no need for rivalry or criticism, but rather for loving what truly fascinates you, recklessly and without fear of judgement. Women should raise women up, and men should support them, but until this happens, the world needs some strong and confident women to be unafraid and pave the way for the future.