Bekkerus: Let women exist

Columnist Paula Bekkerus breaks down why stereotypically “female” trends seem to be universally hated. 

Paula Bekkerus

I like Harry Styles. I like “Twilight.” Pink is my favorite color. I like romcoms, and Hallmark movies, and sweet wine and wearing makeup. I like shoes, dresses and purses. I like taking hundreds of pictures with my best friends, and I love my dog more than anything, and I like pop music and Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo. I love to shop, and I like sweet coffee and pink cake pops from Starbucks. And finally, I’m guessing you have a preconceived notion about me just from these few things.

But I’ll also tell you that I like watching baseball, and I drink Mountain Dew and eat hot wings, and I don’t wear makeup every day, and most of the time, I’m in sweatpants and comfy shoes. I like “Star Wars,” and I love ‘70s and ‘80s rock music and I love math, even if my skills have declined from a lack of practice. I’m stubborn, and I grew up wrestling with two brothers and no sisters. And based on this description, I’m guessing you have another assumption and opinion about me.

It’s natural to automatically make generalizations about people. If I heard either one of these descriptions about someone, especially about a woman, I would already have a judgment about her as well. But honestly, I’m tired of feeling self-conscious and worried about what people think about me, and I’m tired of giving into misogynistic generalizations telling me and other girls who we should be and how we should think.

Rebecca Jennings at Vox wrote an article about how hard it is to exist as a girl, especially on TikTok. She points out that there’s not a single hobby that girls can have and not get made fun of for. You like One Direction? You’re a crazy fangirl. You’re in STEM? Oh, but you’re just a girl, right? So you’re annoying and a try-hard. You’re a gamer? You’re probably a “bruh girl” and aren’t a real gamer.

This trend of hating what women like came up in the age of the “VSCO girl,” or a girl who wears oversized T-shirts and scrunchies and has a Hydroflask. It can definitely be argued that hating what women do has been happening since the dawn of time and has been especially strong since the dawn of the internet, but for the sake of time, let’s stick with the VSCO girls.

Since the rise of the VSCO girl, the term has gone downhill to be derogatory and has come to be on par with words I absolutely loathe, like “basic” and “cringe.” And, of course, there are more misogynistic stereotypes: Bustle lays out a list of five.

We need to fix these stereotypes because young girls and women are being told that what they like and what they find important are actually useless, unimportant and trivial. These double standards are rising like crazy: boys can like “masculine” things, but girls can’t; girls can like “feminine” things, but if only women like those things, they’re dumb. Right?

I really hate to say that I’ve been sucked into making snap judgments about people as well. As much as social media like TikTok can seem like a great place to spend time, it can be harmful if we don’t take the time to look at what we’re consuming and critically think about what we’re seeing and sharing.

To men: Stop reinforcing these stereotypes and unpack why you think something is “basic.” Why is that bad? Why is it that all of the reasons why women’s interests are “lame” are based on the belief that women are doing it to get the attention of a man? As a woman, I promise you that none of us like you as much as you think that we do, and I promise we don’t do things to get your reaction.

I’m tired. Other women are tired. Other people are tired. Stop going along with jokes just because you don’t want to offend your “bros.” Stop harassing women for literally just existing, having hobbies and liking things. If you want to help women, read more on the topic and listen to the women in your life. 

To women and otherwise identifying readers: I don’t care if you’re “basic.” I don’t care if you like stereotypically “feminine” or “masculine” things. I just want you to be the happiest version of yourself. So do what you love and be your best self.