This Women’s Day, Can We Ladies Make A Pact To Not Be Pick-Me Girls, Please?
It’s the eve of International Women’s Day, a day where every brand wants to empower women (even if they take advantage of them the next day), every man wants to make the women in his life feel special (so they can go back to their patriarchal ways the next day), and women want to support and lift up fellow women, because who run the world? Girls! And because it looks nice on Instagram Reels also na! Chalo theek hai, go ahead and do it all, basically anything that gets the ball rolling on women empowerment because we need every drop in the ocean to make a difference. And one very big drop in the ocean will come from us women itself, if we make the pact this Women’s Day to not be pick-me girls. It’s hard, I know since we even pick-me girls are products of the very patriarchy that oppresses us all. But try toh kar sakte hain na?
Who is a pick-me girl?
According to the Urban Dictionary, a pick-me girl is “a girl who goes out of their way to impress boys and make them seem that they’re ‘not like other girls’; otherwise known as internalised misogyny; usually does this to be accepted by boys and be considered ‘one of the good ones’.
Ever come across this format of social media posts that shame girls from certain ‘feminine’ traits? Classic pick-me girl post!
What are examples of this behaviour?
Have you ever met a guy, or even dated one, who has told you that he likes you because you’re “not like other girls”? And then, have you, in the deep throes of your love for him, tried consciously hard to not be like other girls when with him, because you’re afraid you won’t be special anymore? We’re all guilty of this, even I, who’s sitting here preaching to you. I recall a time in school and college when I was proud to have more guy friends because women were just “too much drama”. Eventually, I gained a better understanding of the unconscious biases we live with, corrected my follies and grow out of that phase. But that doesn’t happen for everyone. Kya karein, the misogynist society we live in has imposed on us certain ideals of what a good woman is and what a male fantasy woman is, and neither of them does real women any favours.
Pick-me behaviour is hella problematic because it basically involves women seeking validation from men by degrading or demeaning other women. They might not even know sometimes that they’re doing this consciously. Because most of our ingrained misogyny manifests itself subconsciously and reflexively. What’s more, not just women, the subjects of this judgemental behaviour can be other men too, especially those who respect women or who display qualities that the society often presumes ‘feminine’ or even ‘feminist’. Let me give you a very recent example.
The past couple of days have been good for Indian cricket, or so I’d like to think. Virat Kohli got an honour guard for playing 100 test matches by his team, led by captain Rohit Sharma. Our women’s cricket team won their match against Pakistan and taught us a beautiful lesson in the spirit of unity and sportsmanship when pictures and videos of them playing with the baby daughter of Pakistani women’s cricket team captain Bismah Maroof and celebrating their win with her lit up the Internet. It was such a wholesome sight, and then a Twitter user shared a picture of herself at a cricket match, holding up a placard that said the following:
It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to tell you that this is clearly aimed at Kohli who has repeatedly exhibited healthy respect for his personal life, something which most people in highly demanding professions don’t often do. For example, take paternity leave, or take a step back from duties because they want to spend some more time with family. There’s a lot of “Haaye tauba” around someone choosing to not be a slave to their profession, but because it is a man, people have found a way to blame the woman in his life, namely wife Anushka Sharma, for all his decisions. Whether this makes sense or not, or whether it is true to not, they’re not concerned with it because that would require logic on their part. Humein bas bolna hai.
What makes this a perfect example of pick-me behaviour is that this comment comes from a woman, who looks like she is trying too hard to break the stereotypes around women and sports. Maybe she’s trying to show that she understands the rumoured deep politics of men’s cricket. We don’t care. The point is, when Sunil Gavaskar made even a small joke about Anushka Sharma having something to do with Virat Kohli’s performance on the field, we all jumped at the chance to call him out. But when a woman does it, it hurts extra bad, because she’s a fellow woman. She’s supposed to be an ally. She’s supposed to be on our team.
However, in a bid to probably “look cool” before the boys who dominate sports discussions and hoping to be ‘picked by them for being different than other girls, this lady has chosen to slyly trash talk a male player and his wife. Sad, isn’t it? What’s worse is that the more this behaviour is rewarded, the more it increases. We’ve seen countless examples of pick-me girls in tv shows and movies too because Indian entertainment is only now learning about these biases. And these are shitty role models for women who’re already struggling these days while voicing their opinions and getting trolled by men for it. Many of them wonder, “Is being a pick-me girl an easier life?” But the truth is, it’s one without an iota of respect from fellow women. Toh kya hi fayda na?
Is it possible to not be a pick-me girl?
Haanji, it is, but it takes breaking years and years of conditioning to do so. Pick-me girls are born of the very wretched patriarchal system that is on autopilot at this point and has been mass-producing misogynists of all genders. The need to have validation is only fair—sabko hota hai—because the world is being run by men, and not every woman has managed to find her place in society. Only a few spots are up for grabs. So she’s seeking it through the men in her life. Phir how can she antagonise them? It would also be elitist to say that all women have the choice to seek or not seek validation.
However, there are a few things that we can do to make sure we steer clear of pick-me behaviour. For starters, remember that putting down other women is never a correct argument. You want to pull yourself up, sure do it. But not by putting other women down. The second important thing is empathy. Women all over the world are going through some pretty tough shit, so belittling or shaming anyone for their choices is cruel. Show some empathy, try and put yourself in their shoes, see where they’re coming from. And if you can’t do either, because you have no background information on them, or you don’t know their story, it’s okay to refrain from saying anything at all. It’s fine yaar, you’re a tiny speck in this vast cosmos. Chalega if you don’t know enough to not have an opinion on things.
And finally, fuck validation. You don’t need that from anyone, especially not from men who would let you badmouth other women so you can stand out in their eyes. It’s easier said than done, just like I can’t ask sexist pigs to just stop being sexist. Learned behaviour hai, time lagega. It takes time, effort, and exposure to lots of strong-minded women and feminist literature to bring about that change. So when there are women (or men) calling you out, listen to them, without getting antagonistic or defensive, and understand why they think you’re being a pick-me girl. That’s how we’ve all learnt to do better, through steady, collective effort. We shall overcome.