Nearly every girl can remember being told that “girls stick together” throughout our young lives. As we’ve gotten older that same rhetoric has stuck with us, but is now presented as Instagram posts declaring “Real queens fix each other’s crowns” and “Empower your sisters!” And of course, women should support and uplift other women. But how far can we take this attitude? What happens when a woman is wrong? What happens if we don’t like each other all that much or we feel betrayed by another woman? We see this all the time in “Celebrity Feuds” such as the infamous Katy Perry V.S Taylor Swift and even dating back to Elizabeth Taylor V.S Debbie Reynolds. Each time, the women are pinned against each other in the media and critiqued for “dragging another woman down.” Although yes, in the fight for equality women do need to have each other’s backs, we have to remember that women are people too, and not every person is nice.
Feminism asks for equality; it asks that women and men be treated with the same respect and are given equal opportunity. If a man betrays another man, no one gets critiqued for exercising their right to distance themselves from or feel hurt by each other. So why, throughout these female celebrity feuds, that are often laced with betrayal and bitterness too, is it viewed as “dragging” and “bitching” when they say they’re hurt? Why are we told to disregard our feelings and support each other so blindly without evaluating women as whole people?
In an interview with Grazia in their July 2017 Issue, Susan Sarandon recounts being asked that, as a feminist, surely she should just want a female president, shouldn’t she? She called some serious B.S, saying Hilary’s views on fracking and various other issues don’t align with hers, so it would be wrong and patronising to just vote her in based on her gender. And this perfectly articulates my point. If you can identify more with the ideology of a male leader over a female leader, that’s absolutely fine. You can’t just reward and stand by someone because they’re a woman. If you don’t agree with someone’s life choices or their actions towards you have hurt you, it’s okay to distance yourself. You don’t have to like someone just because they’re a woman. That’s patronising, diminishes people’s achievements and belittles your own emotional responses. This whole “girls stick together” rhetoric further divides us from men and screams out for us to be treated differently as women. Being a woman is obviously a massive part of our identity but first of all we are human. We achieve and act as humans, with human instincts and needs. It isn’t unfeminist to disagree with a woman if her ideology doesn’t suit you, or to be openly hurt by her if she’s offended you. It is, however, unfeminist to give women a free pass and treat them differently based solely on their gender.
So when female celebs are feuding and your female co-workers just can’t be near each other, it’s important to remember they have every right to be hurt and distant from each other without expecting them to brush over it because “women should support other women”. We’re bombarded with this idea that to be a “strong woman” we have to support other women when surely it’s more feminist to support the people (of all genders) you feel are doing right by you and the rest of the world. Women should support the people they think are doing the right thing, regardless of gender.
Written by Laura Cowen