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As a teen, I would have never accepted liking Taylor Swift simply for the judgement it’d have garnered. Why are women’s choices always judged so harshly?
Today, I want to shed light on a subject we barely question ourselves on. I figured that I cannot merely touch upon it through a poem like I usually do. For this is something we really need to dig deeper into. And the magical term is: Cultural capital.
This refers to personal assets that provide us with social mobility. It enables us to climb the social ladder without necessarily having wealth or financial resources. And includes our skills, knowledge, interests, hobbies, etc.
In layman terms, cultural capital is when we’re perceived on the basis of our non economic strengths. Unfortunately, this leads to class differences and social inequality most of the time. But one of its biggest consequences is gender inequality.
You’re probably confused but let me explain.
Women and particularly teenage girls hold almost zero cultural capital in our society. Their interests are quite frequently looked down upon in contrast to those of men.
Things that are stereotypically marketed towards men- sports, action films, and action figures are generally considered good taste. Whereas when it comes to the ‘stereotypical’ interests of women- rom-coms, make-up, and to an extent even fashion, self-created critics are always quick to comment. I mean, ask yourself, what holds higher value in your mind?
A movie like ‘Mean Girls,’ or a movie like ‘Thor’? One has a strong masculine superhero who fights supernatural creatures. And the other has spoilt rich teenage girls who plot to avenge each other. If I were to take a wild guess, based on the years of gender biased mindset that we’ve all been victims of, I’d definitely say the latter.
We are naturally inclined towards downplaying the likes and dislikes of women in our daily life.
Let’s take another example: fashion.
Stereotypically, most females are drawn to clothing and accessories. They tend to care about the way they look more than men do. However, the fashion industry as a whole is considered highly superficial.
Women who enjoy styling themselves are quickly boxed into the spoilt and stupid rich bratty stereotype. Although, if a man takes care of the way he dresses and experiments with his clothing, he’s considered ‘cool,’ and ‘classy.’ He’s even termed as smart looking to an extent.
I think it’s important we ask ourselves why. For this is not just present in the cinema or a few other industries. It’s present within us as well.
When I was younger, I’d never have admitted to liking Taylor Swift or One Direction. Those were two artists whose fan bases mostly consisted of female fans. Unsurprisingly, it was considered ‘basic’ to like them.
If you were fond of Taylor Swift, you were immediately labelled as the dumb girly teenager. When it came to One Direction, people were quick to assume that girls only liked them because of their attractive looks.
I mean what else, right? People didn’t waste time listening to their music before calling them the band only shallow teenage girls listened to. Young women were practically shamed for having a choice that was different from that of the men.
Sometimes, it was even worse. For quite frequently, a man and woman might have the same interest but a woman is shamed for it whereas a man isn’t.
Let’s go back to Taylor Swift. She was and still is famous for writing most of her songs about boys who broke her heart. Now although heartbreaks are a normal part of life, she was continuously shamed for it.
She was perceived as this immature unintelligent blonde who was utterly boy obsessed. And was termed as someone who was forever ‘victimising’ herself.
Yet when Post Malone wrote about a girl who broke his heart, everybody was ready to drop everything and scream ‘f&% that b#$^,’ with him. They began to think of him as someone who understood real pain.
But why? What’s so different about a young woman writing about heartbreak compared to a young man doing the same?
A more current life example would be the different trends which keep coming into light. Like the whole VSCO girl thing.
Young girls were trolled, bullied and forced to feel shameful for talking and behaving in a certain way. Something that was termed ‘stupid’ in the eyes of the other people.
Now, let’s look at TikTok. There are so many videos on YouTube of people reacting to TikToks of teenage girls, making fun of them for having ‘no talent,’ or being dense. And all of this is done simple because they chose to put themselves out there by recording short videos.
But who on earth gave us the right to judge? Who gave us the right to make them feel that by being themselves, they are guilty of something?
This right here, is the sole reason why girls grow up to silence themselves. They grow up to become women who stay quiet because if your interests and opinions aren’t valued, what’s the point of using your voice? When your likes and views are naturally considered inferior what’s the point of arguing? What’s the point of saying anything at all?
I’d like you to just imagine if teenage boys were picked on for liking superheroes or unrealistic action movies like girls are? That could never happen, right? Because we have been programmed to think of anything associated with females is inferior as compared to the things linked to the males.
It is way ‘cooler’ to watch Mission Impossible instead of Clueless. And to have Iron Man figurines instead of dolls. It is ‘cooler’ to prefer shirts over dresses. And to be a professional swimmer than a professional make up artist.
Our minds have been conditioned with a toxic mindset since birth and we don’t know why. When we’re two years old, we don’t know the definitions of words like pencil, chair, or even mother. We only know how to identify them with images.
And we know that the woman who feeds us everyday is our mother, the object we write with is a pencil, and the piece of furniture we sit on is a chair. But when we’re two, we don’t know how to state the meanings of each word. We only know what we’ve seen and heard.
Similarly, as a society, we and even our mothers and ancestors don’t know why the colour pink and the floral dresses are associated to women. We don’t know why scary movies and sports are associated with males.
And we can do nothing to change the identification established in our minds, either. But what we can do is start believing and reminding ourselves every day that liking pink is just as okay as liking blue. Enjoying the Avengers: End Game is just as okay as enjoying the Titanic.
Being a stereotypical teenage girl is just as okay as being a stereotypical teenage boy. Not being either of those is alright too.
For our likes and dislikes make us who we are and that is something which should never ever be compared.
Picture credits: YouTube
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