Yesterday evening, I was watching a news program where the female journalist brought on a young woman, a self-identified “feminist” and a writer, whom had written a disparaging piece on the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump. It was one of those interviews where I found myself searching all around me for the nearest blunt object to hit myself over the head with. I was dumbfounded. Which I have to say, is the state of mind that I have often found myself in lately in watching the current political antics, playing out each day. More importantly, I was saddened at what our young women today find to be the meaning of feminism.
As I listened to this young writer/feminist speak so flippantly on her reasoning for attacking the First Lady in her written piece, I couldn’t help but see how truly lost she was in her ideal of feminism. She gave no intelligent reason for her attack, certainly not one that would hold water. She gave no facts, and really no redeeming opinion on it either. Her answer was, that the president is disgusting and anyone married to him, deserves equal ridicule. Ouch. When asked by the journalist, how the young woman’s current view of the First Lady reflected that of feminism, she stated that feminism did not mean that she had to like and/or be nice to every woman. To the very smallest degree, she’s right – It doesn’t mean that you must like every woman out there in the world. However, I disagree in the fact that she saw it okay to then be so disrespectful toward a woman based on the mere fact of whom she chose to share her life with. Attacking her character solely based on who she married, is the opposite of what feminism stands for.
Whenever I think of feminism, I think of sisterhood. Of women banning together to uplift and inspire each other. I think of the many times where I pick up the phone and call my girlfriends to share exciting news, and how I can go to them when times are dire. The funny conversations we have about our kids, the kind of day that we had or what we are struggling with. There is a special place in my heart for all of the women in my life. In my mind they are the embodiment of sisters.
The current climate of cyber-bullying, self-absorption, dramatic pettiness and instant fame based on the appearance of having it all – Has overshadowed the intended meaning of feminism, among young women. I’ve browsed through the articles of one celebrity or another trashing a fellow sister in their field over asinine details that have nothing to do with the actual person, but instead more face value in nature. It’s trivial, nonsensical and gets us nowhere as women. What’s worse is, these women in the limelight often have more of a sounding voice in our young girls’ lives than the rest of us every day women do, because they are famous.
In a time where everyone (especially our youth) has this overwhelming desire to become an overnight celebrity, our younger girls revere these women, admire them and often want to be just like them. They watch their trends and try to duplicate it. They listen to their banter and then fashion their own vocabulary off of what they deem as trendy. They adopt their beliefs, opinions, and ideals – Without the life experience to back it up. They value appearance over integrity and quality of character, and they show that value of the superficial in the hundreds of selfies that they take in a day.
It’s hard as a woman and mother to compete with the celebrity level role model status, with our girls, when you’re just an “ordinary” woman. Due to the lack of wisdom in adolescence, our young girls also do not yet have the insight to understand that these women are human too. That they also have their own set of faults that could land them on the side of wrong, from time to time. Instead our girls attach their entire identity to what this celebrity or that, wears, says, thinks and believes, never considering that what they are doing might be part of their own character flaws, insecurities, etc.
Feminism is about every woman having the equal right and freedom to live a life that is most fulfilling for them. To have the right to love whomever they do, have the career they desire to have, dress however they want to, think whichever way they choose to, and have the non-judgmental support, and love of their fellow sisters in this world. This sisterhood is made up of women of all kinds, all backgrounds, all beliefs, opinions, and careers. This isn’t a group made up of one ideal and identity, otherwise it wouldn’t be feminism, but instead a political party. It is all inclusive. In this world with an abundance of self-proclaimed feminists, I see more women shaming each other for those differences, rather than encouraging each other. I see them waiting to attack, rather than being equally ready to uplift and support one another.
Feminism today has become more about how much butt-crack and side-boob can be on display at an awards ceremony in effort to prove that they are an “independent feminist woman,” than it’s intended meaning and ideology of allowing other women to be exactly what and who they are, in kindness and solidarity. It’s about how far the envelope can be pushed, as oppose to how far unconditional love can be extended to our sisters. You can be strong and independent and still kind and respectful — It isn’t either or.
The culture of bullying and attacking other women based on their personal choices, is not feminism. We as women share quite special qualities. We are entrusted with creating, carrying, bringing forth, and nurturing life. We were given the gift of emotional intuition and empathy. We are physiologically in-sync with one another and even the phases of the moon. Those qualities link us together on the simple fact that we are female. That is astounding and should be held dear to each one of us. It should unite, not segregate us.
If we women, do not pull our heads out of our own backsides and start realizing that we need the strengths of each other, far more than we need our fictitious image – We will likely wind up in a situation where it is every woman for herself. We are much better together than we are, alone. If that weren’t the case, then the #metoo movement would be the #iam movement, right now.
Feminism will never be about tearing each other down. It will never be about a show of solidarity one day a year in the city streets and the ripping apart of one another, the other 364 days. It will never be about how much skin we can show in order to prove that we are independent, nor about the unified color of clothing that we wear. It’s not about that and it never will be. Feminism is a way of life. How we treat one another, how we embrace our vulnerabilities and our immense power within them. It is not about trashing a man, being better than a man, having no need for one, or proving that we can be just like one. It is about our strength within the qualities that set us apart from the male species that in-turn makes us a valuable, key component to their existence, just as they are to ours. To recognize that there is no better or worse than, there is only different than — And that we both, equally, need the other to make this world the dynamically diverse place that it is.
Our power is not in destroying other women because we feel like it, or believe that we hold some self-entitled right to do so. It is within loving our sisters through the act of kindness, support, and solidarity where feminism resides. It is within our uplifting of the other, and the abandoning of our judgements, in which we help further each other and ourselves in this world. If that fact cannot be remembered, then this faux feminism, really needs to be forgotten.