I was disgusted to recently read about the death of a high school girl in Delaware who was killed at her school. I saw the story on one of the popular feminist blogs that I follow. Sixteen-year-old Amy Francis-Joyner was beaten to death by a group of girls in a restroom at her school….all because of competition for attention from a particular boy. Then her killers went on Instagram and publicly BRAGGED about how glad they were that they had killed “that ugly ass bitch”.
I was disgusted when I read about this….but not at all surprised. I’m no longer surprised to hear about stories like this because I have seen it firsthand myself throughout the last twenty years or so of my own life. It’s an issue that has gotten way out of hand in the last few decades, and it all stems from our toxic patriarchal culture that teaches girls that all of their worth and value lies solely in the way boys think and feel about them. This in turn creates fierce competition among girls for the attention and affection from boys. And since girls have been raised to believe that their entire worth as a human being hinges on whether or not they are liked by boys, naturally any perceived competition from other girls is viewed as a direct threat and assault on their very being and is dealt with through vicious bullying and harassment. I should know this better than anyone, because I was on the receiving end of it for a good ten years or so.
I first recall a few instances of it in middle school. I entered middle school in the fall of 1992. Just before entering the sixth grade, my biological mother, whom I was still living with at the time, took me shopping for some grown-up looking new clothes for school and allowed me to get a rockin’ spiral perm done to my long chest-length hair. This was before I had braces on my teeth and before I had to begin wearing eyeglasses all the time, so for a brief time in the Sixth Grade I looked like a very stylin’ cool early 90’s girl, complete with the long curly permed locks and teased up bangs that were very popular at the time. My hairdo combined with my sharp new wardrobe made me look more like a freshman in high school than a sixth grader.
I wasn’t that popular in Elementary School to begin with, so when my classmates and I entered middle school rife with the new hormones and insecurities that plague all prepubescent children of that age, several of my female classmates suddenly brought out the cat claws and turned on me. A few of them began viciously competing with me for the attention of a cute semi-popular boy in our class whom I had a crush on. They would vandalize my locker at school, hide my clothes from me when it came time to change in the locker room after P.E. class, and I endured nasty remarks and insults from them on a daily basis. For the first time in my life, other girls were calling me a “bitch”, “slut”, and “whore”….and we were only 11-12 years old!! I doubt those girls were even old enough to have had any clue what those words even meant.
I recall getting into a fight with one particular female classmate in the locker room after P.E. class one day in the Sixth Grade because she was ranting and raving at me for no particular reason and this time she made some vulgar comment about how I regularly “stood on the street corner with my legs spread open”. Such filthy language and thoughts coming from the mouth of a 12-year-old girl!! Kinda makes you have to wonder where a girl that young would get that kind of idea from. I wouldn’t have been surprised at all to find out that she had done that very same thing herself, especially since she was pretty trashy. Anyway, although I was far more timid and shy back then than I am now, I wasn’t going to tolerate that kind of disgusting talk from anyone, and so I fired off a below-the-belt insult right back at her. This resulted in her slapping me across the face, since she apparently could dish it out but couldn’t take it when it was dished right back to her, and then a big fight broke out in the locker room. Surprisingly, the P.E. teacher decided not to punish me for getting into a fight with the other girl, probably because she had witnessed me taking shit from the other girls all year long and figured I had probably reached my breaking point.
I highly doubt any of us kids were non-virgins or sexually experienced in any way yet at that age, but yet here they were throwing out sexualized insults at me right and left. I was just a CHILD who was still a few years away from menarche and was still many years away from any of my first sexual experiences, yet I still had to endure other girls at school calling me “slut” and “whore” just because they were afraid that this particular boy might pay more attention to me than them. When you look at it through the perspective I just described, it really does sound ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Fortunately for the insecure girls in my class, I suddenly became really ugly and geeky looking the following year when I got braces on my teeth and had to begin wearing eyeglasses full time, so they didn’t have to compete much with me anymore after that point. I didn’t experience much competitive bullying from other girls over boys throughout the rest of my middle school years or my high school years. Once in a rare while a girl would express disgust towards me for my homely appearance and gloat about how a certain boy or just boys in general preferred her over me. Looking back on that now, it makes me laugh, because if I was really that ugly and unattractive to boys, then why would any girl even feel the need to verbalize the fact that I was no competition for her at all? As homely looking as I was back then, I suspect that I (surprisingly) may still have generated some insecurity and jealousy in other girls at school. Why else would they make such remarks?
Surprisingly, I didn’t receive very much of this treatment at all throughout my high school years even after I outgrew my ugly duckling phase. That really shocks me, but I think the reason why is because by that time everyone else in my class WAS having lots of sex and knew that I was still a virgin. So I guess they just viewed me as some weird prude by that point. I do recall a small handful of incidents in high school where other girls tried to hint that I was a slut, but it never really stuck. By then I was such a nobody who was ignored by everyone that no one seemed to think it was worth their time to bully me about my perceived or non-existent sexuality.
One particular incident that I DO recall with much amusement was during my Junior Year when I sneakily began dating a 21-year-old who was introduced to me by one of my cheerleading teammates. What was funny about it was that this young adult man was the ex-boyfriend of the same trashy girl who had slapped me across the face in the Sixth Grade. My cheerleading teammate arranged for him to pick me up and drive me to school one morning so that we could finally meet in person. And along the way to school, a few of the trashy girl’s friends saw me riding in his car and quickly reported it to her. I shared a History class with all of them during the first period of the morning, and by the time I walked into the classroom first thing in the morning, I was already being interrogated by them about why I was riding in his car to school. By that age, I was already beginning to transform into the huge smartass that I am today, and I immediately knew that it was chapping their asses that I had ridden to school with the trashy girl’s former boyfriend who now liked me and wanted to date me. So I purposely played coy and smug about it. I could barely contain my laughter when one of her friends then asked me, “So are you hanging out with her ex-boyfriend just so that you can be like her?” Now THAT was rich!!! The idea that they would even dare to think that I, as dorky and uncool as I was back then, would ever have any desire whatsoever to be anything like that trashy girl. That was quite a stretch!! LOL! Shockingly, I never heard another word from any of them about me dating this older guy who was their best friend’s ex. I suppose they decided to just accept it and stew about it in silence for some reason. I only ended up dating the guy for two months anyway, because he soon dumped me when he realized I had no intentions of giving up my virginity to him. Plus my parents figured out how old he really was and put their foot down. It was for the best anyway, because any adult guy in his 20’s who would regularly date high school girls under the age of 18 is a creeper and a loser.
When I entered college at MU, that’s when the competition and bullying from other young women REALLY exploded. I spent virtually every year of my college years being called a “slut”, “whore”, “skank”, “cunt”, and every other disgusting name you can think of by other college women…even though I had a serious boyfriend for three consecutive years during college that I was very monogamous with. I had other college women stalking me online 24/7, talking trash about me all over campus every chance they could, and even outright threatening to physically harm me. Sometimes they even had their boyfriends—whom I didn’t even know at all—send me unsolicited online messages through AIM messenger telling me how ugly I was, what a dirty whore I was, and how no guy would ever want to touch me….although it seems far more likely that it was probably the girls themselves sending me those messages using their boyfriends’ messenger accounts. (Seriously, did these bitches keep forgetting that I had a serious boyfriend for three years and wasn’t sleeping with anyone else but him nor looking for attention from any other male than him???). One of the false rumors they spread about me around school that still makes me laugh my ass off to this day was that I loved to shove large bulky video game controllers up inside of my vagina. I always wondered where they came up with that idea…either they simply had very colorful imaginations or they were projecting some dirty deeds onto me that they themselves had done and were ashamed of. I remember mentioning this rumor to another guy I dated back in college, and he just shook his head and laughed and said, “I can say from physical experience with you that you trying to do something like that to yourself would be Mission Impossible! You’re way too tiny for that to even be possible.”
There was one girl I attended college with who even sent me anonymous DEATH THREATS over AIM messenger because….wait for it….her boyfriend had smiled and said Hello to me once or twice when he passed by me while walking with her through campus!!! I kid you not, you can’t make up this kind of crazy shit. She actually created multiple fake AOL instant messenger accounts on her computer and used them to send me messages at all hours of the day and night threatening to come to my dorm room and slit my throat, telling me I was a “filthy fucking cuntbag whore who didn’t deserve to live”, accusing me of thinking I was “God’s gift to boys”, and of course telling me over and over and over….and over….how ugly, fat, AND annorexic-looking I was. (Who knew it was possible to be both fat AND annorexic-looking?? LOL!!) She even had her roommate and a few of her friends join in by sending me messages through fake AIM accounts as well. Most of the young women who harassed me in college got over it and gave it up by the time they graduated and moved on with their lives, but there were a few who continued on with their harassment for many years after I graduated from college. One of them even targeted my family at one point!! All because they felt threatened by my existence and my presence at school and felt that I was taking the male attention that they deserved away from them.
Regardless of the fact that I had a serious boyfriend who later became my fiance and that I was a bit of a loner who kept to myself much of the time, nothing I did or didn’t do seemed to quell the vicious tide of college girls who believed that I was out to steal their boyfriends or crushes away from them or steal the attention of boys away from them. And when we broke up and I finally became single and available, it got worse tenfold. The bullying went from “You’re a filthy whore who cheats on your loser boyfriend all the time and tries to steal everyone else’s boyfriends away from them!!” to “I have a boyfriend/husband who loves me and you don’t because I’m hot and sexy and you’re ugly and nasty as fuck and no one will EVER want you!!” It always seemed to me that these insecure women viewed their boyfriends and spouses not as human beings but rather as mere objects and possessions with which to measure their self-worth and use as weapons against other women. They never appeared to have any actual hobbies or interests in life other than their relationships with men and constantly gloating to the world about how loved they were by their boyfriends/husbands and how everyone else was “jealous” of them for it. As for myself, I had an array of unique hobbies and interests that I was very focused on, including music performance, editorial writing, website and graphic design, photography, and ghost hunting. The female bullies in college often told me how “stupid and pathetic” my hobbies were. Well my hobbies might seem weird to some people, but it still sure beats doing nothing but stalking people online 24/7 and being an anger-filled psycho-bitch lunatic, now doesn’t it?
And when you stop to think about all of that in the above paragraph, that’s an obvious bright red flag that something is seriously wrong with our modern generation of girls and women. It clearly takes an EXTREME amount of insecurity and self-loathing in order to be that paranoid and vicious towards other females. As a woman who is pretty secure and satisfied with who I am, I never feel any urges to hate on other women simply for looking pretty or out of fear that they may take what is mine. And whenever I am dating or in a serious relationship with someone, my entire life never revolves completely around the guy I’m seeing. That’s how I know that the women who do act that way must be in an indescribable amount of inner pain and misery and must absolutely hate themselves. And from what I have heard a few of those women secretly admit about themselves before, my assumption is pretty correct.
The fact that we now have young girls actually MURDERING other girls over the attention of boys is glaring proof that we have failed our women and girls. We have failed to teach them that their value and worth lies within themselves, not within men. We have failed to teach them to focus on and value their achievements in life and their own personal strengths and talents instead of focusing on how much a particular boy likes them or how “hot” they are considered to be by their male peers. A woman who values herself as a person and has her own hobbies, talents, goals, and achievements doesn’t trouble herself with worrying over how men view her or how well she fits into their beauty constructs. Several years ago I decided to cut off my long hair and rock a short Miley Cyrus backwards-bob haircut for a few years. I heard a few complaints from men that I had “ruined my looks” and that I was “no longer as hot without my long hair”, but I gave less than a fuck what they thought about it. And that’s because I had a strong inner self who already knew I had value as a woman without anyone else’s approval of my appearance. It was MY hair and MY decision to cut it, and I was going to wear my hair however I damn well pleased!! If I had been as insecure as the women who bullied me in college, then I never would have dared to cut off my long hair in the first place for fear of “not being hot enough”. We as a society are ultimately to blame for girls being bullied and even killed by other girls, because WE caused this by failing to teach our girls how to love and value themselves and know their own worth.
I see the insecurity, narcissism, and self-hatred getting worse and worse with each generation anymore, so I can guarantee that we will be seeing a lot more cases like that of Amy Francis-Joyner where girls will be bullied to death or even outright killed because our cultural system of patriarchy has taught our girls and women that the absolute most important thing in life is having boys want you. Parents of young girls, YOU can help fix this by doing your jobs as parents and teaching your daughters to love and value themselves and nurture their talents and interests. It’s very quite simple actually—girls who are happy with themselves and their lives don’t bully other girls. A lot of these insecure girls are seeking out in boys what they haven’t been getting from their parents at home, so it is up to you to provide your daughters with all of the love, guidance, boundaries, confidence, and self-esteem that they need in order to be happy with who they are instead of looking for penises to make them happy.