I have never been one of those people who, when criticised, will shrug it off as the words of jealousy. I take criticism to heart; not just from people that I admire and wish to imitate, but from everyone. As my online presence grows and my blog finds more readers, naturally I have become more exposed to both negative and positive attention. I get trolled by both men and women on Twitter for expressing my views on feminism that might not match up with their own. I often have to delete casually nasty comments from my blog, and I stumble across many other instances of girl-hate, or as it is academically known, internalized misogyny. Internalized misogyny is when a woman unconsciously absorbs patriarchal ideas and attitudes, and directs them towards herself and/or other women. You know, those times when somebody tweets you something that sounds like a compliment at first, but is really laced with venom; “Oooo, so jealous you got to go to that event! How on earth did you get an invite?!”; “You look amazing in your last post! It’s so nice that you’re confident in your curves, I don’t know if I could be that brave!”. It is girls spewing poison left, right and centre, with an innocent face and a shrug. Internalized misogyny is thinking that you are the only girl in the world that reads comic books or plays video games. Internalized misogyny is dismissing other women’s interests as girly, superficial nonsense. It is laughing at women for their apparently inferior life choices. It is branding women or their taste as “basic” or “ratchet”. And I see it everywhere in the blogosphere, coming from all niches and directions.
When somebody within the blogosphere has a great success, I sit back and wait for the inevitable shit storm. People don’t like to see their contemporaries do well, it seems. When Zoella announced the launch of her beauty line, the criticism, bitchiness, and blatant jealous backlash on Twitter was depressing to witness. The most depressing thing about it is that it came, almost invariably, from other beauty bloggers. The people who object to Zoella, Pointless Blog et al on the grounds of their “vanilla blogging” being culturally damaging (as Vice did in this article) you would at least have expected to have something critical to say. But no - the people tearing her down were her secret followers, her hidden admirers. People who read her blog and envy her success, but would never admit it. I checked the relationship between Zoella and a few of the people behind the nastiest tweets (this information is public and can be checked easily on many apps) and every single one of them was following her. This says a lot about the competitiveness at the core of internalized misogyny.
I’ve heard so many remarks along the lines of “I’m not like regular bloggers” or “I don’t really fit into the usual blogger mould”, or even worse, “I don’t want to be associated with most bloggers, I’m not like them”. People feel pressured to fit into a box, and in reaction to this, they attack the box and everyone who fits within it. This is overlooked because we live in a society where it is normal to slate others in order to glorify ourselves. We have “body confidence” anthems like Anaconda and All About That Bass that are all about pandering to the male gaze, because hey, real men like curves, right? Who wants to be one of those “fake”, “Barbie doll”, “skinny bitches”? Fuck those skinny bitches, right? Wrong. Bashing a woman’s body shape (or blog, or lifestyle, or taste) because you want everyone to know that yours is better or more “real” doesn’t make you confident. It makes you a sad, uneducated sexist.
So how do we stop it? Well, we can start by not being hypocritical. If you write a blog about make-up and skincare and then slate a girl who does the same as a talentless fraud, please take a good, long look at yourself. If you don’t like a blog, don’t comment on it because leaving your link there gets you lots of traffic. Don’t leave insincere comments period. Share the things you like. Promote the things you believe in. Praise people. Watch loads of Laci Green videos. And remember you aren’t the only woman who likes video games.