At age 8, ‘You’re not like other girls, you don’t wear skirts.’
At 13, ‘You’re not like other girls, you’re funny.’
At 15, ‘You’re not like other girls, you don’t care about make up.’
At 17, ‘You’re not like other girls, you watch football.’
At 21, ‘You’re not like other girls, you’re so laid back and you never nag.’
At 26, ‘You’re not like other girls, you’re so easy to get along with.’
At 29, ‘You’re not like other women, you’re not obsessed with your looks, your personality is better.’
At age 30, on International Women’s Day, I say we stop taking ‘You’re not like other girls,’ as a compliment.
Don’t get me wrong. Growing up and hearing these things made me feel fucking great. Look at all the things that make me better than other girls! I’m so different – that just make me special. As a grown up, reading that back, I see that they are not compliments. They are comparisons.
Let’s look at where those comments are coming from. Boys. Men. The male gender (some of, I hate generalisations) have been brought up to compare women. Which one do I fancy more? Who do I prefer talking to? Who will make a better wife? Cheryl or Nadine? Pamela or Yasmin? This one doesn’t bollock me as much as the last one. This one isn’t as ‘psycho’ as the previous one. This one can actually let me relax and have a laugh.
These misguided gentleman have been brought up to believe that women need validation from them. That women need to be told that they are good enough by them because otherwise it’s not true. And so they compliment and compare.
Sometimes even as you walk past them on the street! Or whilst they’re grabbing your arse on the dance floor. Or cowering over you on the Tube. Or shouting at you from a van. Or in a job interview. Or on a date.This type of man believes that we need to be complimented and compared because when they do, they are uplifting us and setting us free from our wimpering women caves. Bless them.
But from this day, I implore us to expect better. I implore us to set the bar higher. I emplore us to never accept a compliment that starts with, ‘You’re not like other girls.’
Because other girls are queens. They are successful, strong, creative, academic, feisty, intelligent, nurturing and kind. I want be Other Girls.
So instead we will tell those who want to see us compete that, ‘Yes actually, I am like other girls because other girls are x,y,z’
Instead we will choose to educate anyone who thinks a woman needs to be compared to be complimented that no, we are our own women, we respect ourselves enough to not need your validation. And if you do wish to compliment us (because omfg I love compliments like the world is loving Ed Sheeran) then we expect more from you. We expect you to compliment us about what makes US great, not what we have over others.
We must be bold in this quest to educate. We must not roll over for an easy life. We must not accept this turn of phrase just because we want to be liked. We must…