Too many times in my life I have been shamed for liking certain things or wearing
particular clothing, just because I am a girl.
Just last week, I was walking uptown on campus when a group of drunk men decided to yell "Freshman!! Hey you stupid freshman!" at me. At first, I felt confused, then insulted, and lastly, I just felt frustrated because I knew why they assumed I was a freshman when I am actually a junior. It was because I was wearing a large, furry jacket and white Adidas sneakers. Apparently, if you wear white sneakers to walk in and a furry jacket to keep warm in 10-degree weather, you are automatically a freshman. I felt angry; what did these men suggest I wear instead to keep warm? What kind of shoes did they want me to wear? Now, I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes assume people are freshmen based on what they wear, but it is not always obvious and I certainly would never yell insults in their face. I started to think about what this really meant and it made me think of all the things that men make women feel bad about enjoying by harassing or making fun of us.
I remember really feeling this shame from boys when I was in middle school.
To put your mind in the right time frame, it's around 2012 and social media is really starting to become popular among young people, along with a certain boyband called One Direction. I remember so many of my friends and girl classmates were obsessed with One Direction, and of course, so many of our boy classmates made fun of us endlessly for it. They would tell us things like "they don't even make REAL music" and "you only like them because you think they're cute." First of all, what is real music? Second of all, yes we did think they were cute, but that wasn't the only reason why we liked their music. I just didn't understand why all these boys had to hate on our love for One Direction when they were loving certain female celebrities for the same reasons we loved One Direction. Also, the boys had certain obsessions too like sports teams and "The Walking Dead," but you didn't hear any girls making fun of them for those interests. Of course, One Direction stayed together for years following, so the misogynistic remarks only became worse as we all grew older. The same goes for my personal love for Taylor Swift. I understand that even a lot of girls dislike Taylor Swift, but the boys were really the ones who would roast any girl who liked her music. Once I reached High School, I was sometimes afraid to admit to liking One Direction and Taylor Swift because I knew that it was deemed "uncool" and that the boys would secretly make fun of me.
Fast forward to today, and suddenly both of these interests are acceptable.
Recently on Tik Tok, I have seen so many men on the app showing their love and appreciation for both One Direction and Taylor Swift, which honestly blows my mind. It seems like now that there are no "crazy" girl fans of One Direction, it has been deemed ok by men to listen to and enjoy their music. In one Tik Tok I viewed recently, a girl played a One Direction song for her boyfriend. He loved the song and asked who it was and when she told him it was One Direction, he was absolutely shocked. Another Tik Tok showed a man dancing to "Fireproof" by the boyband and his caption said something along the lines of "One Direction has major bops." Why is it that men grew up believing that One Direction didn't make real music? Why do men suddenly enjoy their music? The answer, to me anyway, is because men felt that if they enjoyed the kind of music that so many young girls were obsessed with, then it would make them seem feminine or less of a man in the eyes of other men. Therefore, the only acceptable thing to do was to make fun of anyone who listened to their music. Admitting to liking music that so many girls loved would make any boy or man look weak or feminine to other men.
Moving away from music, this idea relates to so many other areas of interest.
Men love to constantly classify girls and women as "basic" for liking certain styles of clothing. I realize that plenty of women wear the same styles of clothing, like black leggings, a crop top, a jean or furry jacket, and white converse. This is usually the outfit that will get you called a freshman if you are in college. However, I always found this to be so hypocritical because men do the exact same thing. If I had a dollar for every man I have seen on the street wearing a flannel with a hoodie, khakis, and sneakers, I would be rich, but they don't seem to get the same amount of scrutiny for this as women. It's crazy to me how this idea applies to so many different areas of interest. Even the food, drinks, movies, television, and room decorations that women like are put under judgment by men. If you have a tapestry in your room, you are a basic bitch. If you buy a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, you're boring and basic. Oh, you watch Grey's Anatomy? Guess what, you're basic too! My thought is, who really cares if we are basic for liking or having those things? I will never understand why men can't just allow women happiness in the things that they love. You don't usually hear women bashing men's interests or labeling them as basic. I think it's time that we move away from this idea that women need to be ashamed of every single little thing that we enjoy just because the vast majority of women take joy in them. Also, it's ok if men find happiness in the same things as women. It does not make them less manly. Let people be happy and mind your own business!