Why Women Shouldn't Support Other Women Simply Because They're Women
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are two of the funniest people in entertainment. So when they were asked to host last year's Golden Globe Awards, no one could predict what they would do, but we all knew it would be good. The "Saturday Night Live" duo didn't disappoint, delivering calculated humor, witty quips and light jabs at celebrities in the audience.
While the biggest industry names could take the heat, country-pop princess Taylor Swift proved she is just as sensitive as her songs make her out to be. At the award show, Poehler and Fey joked about Swift's tumultuous love life on stage, warning her to stay away from Michael J. Fox's son.
The minor attack was nothing we haven't heard before — after all, news of the singer's latest boyfriends appears in headlines several times each year. Everyone in attendance laughed, except Swift. When asked about the dig during an interview with Vanity Fair, Swift said:
"You know, Katie Couric is one of my favorite people, because she said to me she had heard a quote that she loved that said, 'There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.'"
In a more recent feud, Lorde dissed fellow singer Selena Gomez, using "anti-feminist" to describe the lyrics to her single "Come and Get It." In response, Gomez told Flaunt magazine, "That's not feminism. [Lorde is] not supporting other women."
Swift and Gomez both have a point, but not the one they hoped to make. And they're not the only ones. Women should help other women in the same way African Americans who want tolerance should support and help other African Americans in eradicating racial inequality. Women should help other women in the same way an employee should stand up for another, hardworking employee who is facing unjust termination. Women should not help other women simply because they're women, however. That's akin to saying a man should help a modern-day Hitler just because Hitler is male.
The basis on which we should support (read: like or agree with) someone else, their work, their personality, etc., should be talent. In Swift's case, it was a bad joke that had nothing to do with merit. But the Lorde-Gomez incident illustrates a common argument in today's society that women repeatedly cower behind when they're vulnerable to attack. We constantly throw around some jaded, inaccurate definition of feminism in an effort to connect all women to each other, but what we end up doing is campaigning for mediocre work.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, feminism is "the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men." Maybe I missed the part about always being "nice" to other women without question. I'm simplifying here, but the idea of feminism with regard to work is evaluating someone's quality without considering gender. If we apply Swift or Gomez's logic, we would only consider someone's gender while excluding quality (or personal taste).
The result sounds exactly like the reason we started the feminism movement in the first place. By supporting other women solely because they're women, we're promoting a kind of anti-feminism that will lead to a dishonest environment and, ultimately, will create a bigger divide between women.
I'm not trying to persuade you against endorsing other women; moving closer towards gender equality will go much more quickly if we stick together. Don't let that be the only reason you give your seal of approval, though. The feminist movement won't lose any momentum if its players have dissenting opinions. We've come too far to let that happen.
Photo credit: WENN