We need to stop confusing feminism with girl power



There seems to be a notion from some women, that, if you are feminist, you are expected to like all women. Or at least, be very nice to all other women.

Fox and Friends has a helpful segment explaining that if you want to advance as a woman “you can’t target other women for their differences of opinion. And yet [liberal women] persist in insulting women over and over again!” A quick twitter search of “so-called feminist” and “Ivanka” will yield a lot of results from people who think that it is mystifying that anyone can dislike Ivanka (or Melania, or Kellyanne Conway) and still call themselves a feminist. Tomi Lahren declared that “The true intention of feminism will be restored when women stop bringing each other down out of jealousy, pettiness and self righteous BS.”

God, I hate women who say bullshit like that.

And that is fine.

Because feminism does not dictate that you are required to like every stupid woman you encounter. Feminism isn’t a hot air balloon designed to lift already privileged ladies to new joyful heights. Those women are thinking of “girl power” or “bootyliciousness” or “domestic feminism”—some other term that was intended to act as a milquetoast substitute for actual feminism.

“Feminism isn’t a hot air balloon designed to lift already privileged ladies to new joyful heights.”

Feminism is a life raft. Unlike “girl power,” feminism is scary, because it demands change, and does not just entail sexily singing that women are terrific.

Some basic tenets of feminism include believing that women should have equal opportunities, earn equal pay for equal work with their male counterparts, not have their worth reduced to their appearance, and have bodily autonomy (or “the freedom to murder babies!” if you’re a Twitter commenter visiting us from the Handmaid’s Tale). Being a feminist means working towards a world where those rights are not in question.

One of those tenets of feminism is not “liking Amy, that dumb mouth breather in the next cubicle.” That is the sole tenet of girl power, which is why girl power, delightful songs aside, is rather tiresome.

Now, as a feminist, you’ve still got to believe Amy deserves equal rights. You can’t decide she should be bartered away in marriage in exchange for goats and still be a feminist. You can’t decide that you will make her bodily decisions for her. You can not yell that she is worthless because she is ugly. You have to believe that, one day, Amy should have as much right to be our dumb President as any equally dumb man you hate.

But my God, of course you don’t have to like her. You can go around telling everyone that you think she’s an idiot if you want to.

Women are humans. Sometimes humans do not like other humans, because of their own individual set of preferences and values.

Now, in general, if the woman you dislike is not actively making your life worse, it’s probably best to reserve judgment. It’s a healthier, less destructive way to go through life. Generally it’s very good to try to be compassionate to others. That’s not always going to happen, again, because women are humans. Do your best, and try to remember everyone is dealing with their own struggles.

But if women are opposed to women’s rights? If they’re cheerfully complacent with sexual harassment or scaling back women’s opportunities? If they’re actively going to make life hard work for you and others like you? Speak the fuck out. Don’t worry about seeming polite. Just worry about speaking out.

Again, do not let anyone trick you into thinking you’re never allowed to say anything negative about women who would bring negative consequences on womankind.

“Don’t worry about seeming polite. Just worry about speaking out.”

You know where women were all really unfailingly kind and polite to each other? Stepford. That is not generally regarded as a place in fiction where women’s rights have triumphed.

The declaration that any time a woman dislikes another woman she’s no longer a feminist is a logic that implies women somehow have to be held to a different emotional standard than men. Because men seem plenty able to dislike other individual men and still remain in positions of power and respect. Donald Trump hates a whole bunch of men and that does not seem like a big conflict to his “men’s rights” supporters. Being held to the same standards and accorded the same emotional privileges as men is kind of what we’re going for here, with the whole feminism thing.

For the conservative women on Fox who think that you can’t advance as a woman if you dislike any other women—what exactly are they trying to advance? If we were all busy aggressively complimenting every other woman on the planet and never taking issue with their bad ideas because it might hurt their feelings, I don’t imagine we’d have time to advance anything but an awfully good slumber party.

There’s that saying that well behaved women never make history. Well, neither do women who are more preoccupied with seeming like total sweethearts than getting things done.

Reproduced from Harper’s BAZAAR.



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