In feminist discussions, there is a ton of emphasis on supporting other women. It’s all about solidarity, we’re in this struggle together, etc. And hey, that approach has the best of intentions. It’s true that we have enough forces–the media, the government, that jerk who makes sexist remarks in history class–crapping on us for being women, so we don’t need to make things tougher for ourselves by crapping on or fellow woman for no good reason.
But there’s emphasis on the no good reason bit.
This is what I think a lot of people seem to be confused about in this whole Lorde vs. Selena Gomez debacle. Here’s the quick and dirty: Lorde, a self-described feminist, was critical of some of the lyrics of Selena’s song “Come And Get It” and said that she’s “sick of women being portrayed that way.” Selena responded, claiming that Lorde’s statement is anti-feminist, adding that she isn’t “supporting other women.”
Personally, I think that Lorde’s criticisms of her fellow female pop stars come across as well-intentioned but a little presumptuous. So while I’m incredibly indifferent toward Lorde, I can’t help but defend her against this notion that the very act of her criticizing other women is anti-feminist. See, here’s the thing that people seem to be a little confused about: Feminism isn’t about blindly accepting everything that every woman does. Solidarity is important, but you can be a feminist and be critical of other women–hell, other feminists–at the same time.
You’re allowed to dislike other women and you’re definitely allowed to think that other women’s actions can perpetuate a lot of sexist nonsense. But I do think that there is a fine line that can be crossed in a heartbeat.
So what kind of critique of women is anti-feminist? Well, if you ask me, I think that things start getting pretty dicey when you start to police other women’s personal behavior and use that as justification to dislike them. If you dislike some girl in your P.E. class because you heard she has a lot of meaningless sex, then that definitely works against the spirit of feminism. If you think that some celebrity is bringing down women because she shows a lot of skin on the red carpet, you’re policing her body and her personal decisions about what to do with her body which–again, if you ask me–is pretty anti-feminist.
See, there are ways that you can hate on women in a way that goes against the spirit of feminism. But if I’m going to critique a female celebrity after she said something racist, am I suddenly anti-feminist because I dared to call out a fellow woman? Uh, no. That doesn’t destroy my feminist street cred. In fact, I think that calling out a fellow woman for her racist garbage is incredibly feminist because feminism is largely about fighting oppressive jerks. And, unfortunately, sometimes those oppressive jerks are women–even fellow self-described feminists!
If you’re a little confused, it’s okay. Contrary to popular belief, feminism can be a little more complicated than just saying that you support equal rights for men and women. Honestly, feminists are never going to agree about everything, that’s just reality. But in essence, I’m not saying that supporting other women isn’t important, but when people condense feminism to nothing but supporting other women, I can’t help but offer some serious side eye. Being able to have an open discussion about what does and doesn’t harm women is an essential part of feminism. Cutting that out for the sake of blind solidarity does feminists, feminist movements and women as a whole a serious disservice.
And hey, sometimes you just don’t like a girl because you just don’t like her. I don’t think that our dearly departed feminist icons are rolling in their graves because of that.
What do you think makes or doesn’t make somebody a feminist? What do you think of this Lorde versus Selena drama? Tell us in the comments!