One of the great myths of the palatable modern feminism that we’ve all become accustomed to is this: women should never criticise other women, they should only “lift each other up.”
Time and time again, when women disagree with each other on a public forum (like, say... Twitter) the public rushes to question them, to discredit them, to punish them. In the name of gender equality, women are told to sit down and be quiet, rather than speak out against one another.
Of course, there are also the raging misogynists who spend all of their time comparing popular women to one another (and then seem to be appalled when those women wind up not liking each other). The people who write off even the most intellectual and polite critiques as “bashing,” “slamming” or “dragging.” The people who call it “petty” whenever a woman expresses her feelings. The people who will jump on any excuse to cancel any woman.
Those people are a huge part of the problem. They’re a huge portion of the public backlash whenever women disagree. But, let’s be honest: those people aren’t exactly critical thinkers. They’re not going to stop what they’re doing, especially when it earns them retweets and clicks and consequently, oodles of cash. They’re not going to listen to me, that’s for sure.
The problem I have is with feminists who refuse to let discourse happen between women. Feminists who refuse to let one woman criticise another, because they should be “lifting up other women” rather than putting me down. Feminists who think that saying anything negative about a woman is inherently anti-feminist.
I see it everywhere. Whenever Jameela Jamil calls out the Kardashians for shilling weight loss products to their impressionable audience, comments flood in calling her a “bully” for not just blindly throwing support at rich, successful women. When Taylor Swift confessed that she wrote “Bad Blood” about another woman in her industry who she had felt hurt by (something she only revealed because she didn’t want it to be seen as “another bitter break up song”) the narrative shifted - now she was a bad feminist trying to ruin another woman’s career. Personally, when I have written critically about the actions of female celebrities, people have said to me, both online and in person: “Why are you trying to bring down a successful woman? Aren’t you a feminist?”
I understand the sentiment behind this idea that women should “lift each other up”, I do. I love that we’re striving to create an environment where women are supportive and nurturing of one another.
But this line of thinking, this idea that women should never question other women, is antithetical to the very nature of feminism. Feminism is, and always has been, a discussion. It’s a flexible set of ideas that changes based on the perspectives of different women from different backgrounds and different times. Feminism has developed and progressed based on conversations between many different people. Many of them were women who disagreed with each other.
Discourse is progress. And discourse between women is feminism.
Women are allowed to disagree with one another. Women are allowed to criticise one another. Women are allowed to be hurt by one another. Women are allowed to outright hate one another. None of that is inherently anti-feminist. Women are multi-faceted humans just like everyone else. We can’t all get along. Stop stifling the conversations.Support Villainesse