Stereotypes

Michelle hummed as she browsed through the rack of pants at the clothing store. It had been a while since she'd last gone clothes shopping, and she finally had the money to get a new pair of jeans. Maybe even two if she could find a brand that was on sale. It wasn't her favorite activity in the world, but she may as well get her shopping out of the way now while she could.

However, the pants were suddenly flung out of her hands. Michelle blinked, then groaned. She only vaguely recognized the other woman, someone who she'd gone to high school with, but Mackayleigh Anya had always been...loud and pushy, to put it nicely.

"Why aren't you looking at skirts?" Mackayleigh Anya demanded. "Do you have a problem with skirts? Don't you like them?"

"Um, no." Michelle blinked again. "I mean, no, I don't like them; I've just never found them comfortable. But also, no, I don't have a problem if other people wear them."

"If you don't have a problem with them, then why don't you buy a few? You could stand to dress up a little more, you know. Don't you want to look nice?"

"Uh, I just said I don't find them comfortable." Michelle raised an eyebrow. "And that doesn't mean I can't look nice. What does that even mean?"

Sure, Michelle didn't spend a lot of time in front of the mirror, but she showered daily, brushed her hair often, and at least made sure her clothes were color-coordinated and properly-fitting. She still looked fine; Michelle took care of herself and wasn't a mess. Not dressing for the red carpet on a daily basis didn't mean she looked bad.

"I'll tell you what it means," Mackayleigh Anya snarled. "You look like a slob! A man! Why do you want to look like a man? Women are supposed to dress up and be proud of their looks! Women wear feminine clothing to accentuate themselves and support other women! Dressing like a man is an insult to yourself and other women. Do you think that makes you better than me? Are you trying to be 'different' from 'other girls' so you can get points with men? You think men will give you a longer leash if you wear their clothes and look and act like them?"

Oh, boy. And there was the other shoe. Michelle knew they were going to get there eventually...

"I got these pants in the women's section. They're women's clothes!" she groaned. "I'm not even wearing clothes that were literally designed for men! Is the store sexist for putting pants in the women's section? And what do clothes have to do with whether or not I 'support' other women?"

"You're right; I should go take that up with the manager right away," Mackayleigh Anya replied thoughtfully. Then, she promptly shook her head and kept going. "But that's beside the point! Women's clothes were made by and for women! Skirts and dresses have always been for women. If you're a woman, you should be proud to wear clothes that other women made for you. And you'll be supporting women who dress this way, instead of putting them down with your...your...masculine clothing."

She shuddered at the word, and Michelle rolled her eyes.

"Isn't that a little sexist? Telling women that they have to do certain things? By your own logic, you're trying to control me. Not supporting other women is bad, isn't it?"

Mackayleigh Anya's eyes narrowed. "Oh, so the sexists are learning the language now, are they? Trying to dress up your sexism with the 'proper' words? Do you think this justifies you? Do you think it'll make me forget your sexism, you sexist?"

"I still don't see how I'm being sexist! It's not like I'm keeping you from buying a dress. Me buying pants doesn't magically take all the skirts out of the store or mean you can't wear them ever," Michelle exploded. "But you're literally shoving stuff out of my hands and trying to prevent me from doing what I want!"

Mackayleigh Anya stared at her for several seconds before suddenly bursting into loud, messy, noisy sobs. A few other customers stared over at them. Another woman, dressed in a pastel pink lacy blouse and a short lavender skirt layered with frills, put an arm around Mackayleigh Anya's shoulder and shot Michelle a glare.

"You're upsetting the poor thing!" the other customer said accusingly. "How dare you harass her!"

"'Harass her'?" Michelle repeated incredulously. "She's the one who came up to me and started the conversation!"

"Women do not start fights with each other, young lady." The customer glared. "Which makes me wonder how much of a woman you actually are!"

Mackayleigh Anya hiccupped. "I-if you were non-binary, maybe I could forgive you! That'd explain why you do all these non-feminine things, and it'd mean that not supporting you is transphobic of me. B-but you're just being a sellout traitor, aren't you? Aren't you?"

Michelle stared at her. "So, let me get this straight: In order to do non-feminine things, I literally can't be a woman? Not fitting into your exact standards means I must be something else?"

Mackayleigh Anya nodded.

"Fine! Maybe I don't want to be a woman anymore, then!"

As she stormed out of the store, Michelle could hear Mackayleigh Anya shouting, "Oh, you hate being a woman? What's wrong with womanhood, you sexist?"

Why did Michelle even do anything?