I couldn’t stop staring at this girl. Swaying side to side, her voice was way too elevated and her friends had an embarrassed look on their faces. 2 a.m. on the subway platform and she was drunk. Not tipsy, but drunk. Just gone.

I made sure to get on a different subway car from Drunk Girl and her friends, but I was still thinking about her.

How do you get that sloppy? What the hell were you drinking that your friends have to prop you up a la “Weekend at Bernie’s?” Have a little self-respect. Get it together, girl. You need Jesus. You need better friends who won’t let you get that twisted. These were all the things I was thinking and would have said to someone else if I weren’t alone.

I turned the page of my book and caught myself. Was I so disturbed by this girl because I was That Girl? Tonight I had my nose buried in the words of Junot Diaz, but many moons ago, I was in her tipsy shoes.

I was alone on the subway. Puking. In my purse. The motion of the train was too intense for a stomach that had consumed four cranberry vodkas and no dinner.

It’s way too easy to look at another sister-friend in judgment of the same thing we’ve done, are currently doing, or possibly will do in the future.

In the current state of black girls behaving questionably, we all need to lay off of one another. We’re so quick to label and blast each other based on actions.

She’s a whore for wearing a revealing outfit. But maybe you’ve worn the same skirt, just an inch longer. She’s a trifflin’ home wrecker for dating a married man. But maybe you’ve gotten too close and flirtatious with a man who wasn’t yours. She has no self respect for letting a man dog her out. But maybe you’ve bent over backward for a man who wasn’t even concerned.

We’ve all been in her shoes. Maybe they were a different color or style, but they’re the same.

Men simply don’t do this. As the fairer sex, we’re pretty unfair to one another. Guys’ “every man (and his actions) for himself” attitude renders them free of the harsh judgment we force on other women. If Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, or Mike screws up, then it’s Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, or Mike’s problem. The others don’t feel the need to give a serious side eye to him. But as women, we tend to look at other females as extensions of ourselves — or as our representatives.

We have to distance ourselves from That Girl so she’s not mistaken for us. We see this all the time. We make a conscious effort not to be near the scantily clad, provocatively dancing woman at a club because God forbid someone thinks we’re with her or like her. There’s no way we even want to share the same physical space.

This is harmful to ourselves and the “other” girl.

When we judge her, we deny our past experiences. Those pretty new shoes we’re standing comfortably in now weren’t always so cushy. They were once raggedy, fragile, and a size too small. However, we quickly forget that fact as we’re shaking our heads at each other.

And instead of looking at That Girl as a person, we limit her to her behavior. She’s no longer a sister, a friend, a cousin; she is her mistakes. If I wouldn’t have been on such a high horse, I could have seen Drunk Girl as more than her blood alcohol level. I could have seen her as a woman who, for whatever reason, had a bad night. And I could have seen myself as someone who was just like her not too long ago. But I did neither. I sat and judged, which wasn’t beneficial to either of us. I reduced this woman to her present mistakes — and conveniently forgot my past ones.

So what’s the solution? The old adage that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover is trite and easier said than done. But let’s just lay off That Girl, whoever she is. We don’t have to condone her behavior, but we do need to acknowledge that we’re That Girl (or could be her in the future), as none of us always follows the direction of our moral compass.

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  • “If Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, or Mike screws up, then it’s Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, or Mike’s problem—the others don’t feel the need to give a serious side eye to him. But as women, we tend to look at other females as extensions of ourselves, or our representatives.”

    I think this is because women are subordinate to men in society,,,you see the same phenomenon with blacks v.s whites. While whites have the freedom to treat everyone individually…we as black ppl see other blacks as representations of ourselves. Part of this is that a greater struggle calls for greater solidarity…the other part is that the ppl in power have convinced everyone else that they can’t have that same freedom.

    • Morning Rain

      “I think this is because women are subordinate to men in society”

      I agree. And I believe it is because women are encouraged to be moral, dainty, and taught not to offend others with their behaviors.

      *This new layout seems to cause me to miss articles.

  • Very well written. Thank you for this.

  • b.

    take this, and then apply it to race.

  • I love this. Everyone is at a different place in their journey, and we have to respect where people are, instead of judging them. I recently wrote a blog about how my friend’s decision to stop drinking led me to rethink my own drinking habits. I’m not joining her in sobriety – I’m not puking on trains, either – but, she made me reevaluate my behavior, an important part of the process of maturing. We have to help each other become the women we’re meant to be.