• Tue, Mar 4 - 5:07 pm ET

Being A Feminist Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Make Fun Of Other Women

Taylor Swift looking over her shoulder in silver dress 2014Guys, we need to talk, because you and I seem to have a different understanding of feminism. You’re welcome to interpret it just as exactly how you want for yourself, but when you start using your own interpretation to try to shame me into never saying a critical world about my fellow women — celebrities or otherwise — then we’re gonna have a problem.

And I don’t mean the kind of problem where I come to your house and beat you up because you disagree with me. I mean the kind of problem where we’re legitimately gonna have issues communicating. For example, I think it’s okay for me to make fun of Taylor Swift. A lot of the things she does strike me as annoying, and it’s my right to voice those opinions; an not only as a human, but also as an entertainment blogger. It’s quite literally my job. But a lot of Crushable’s readers — people whom I find interesting and informed on many other topics – have suggested that Taylor should be off-limits to criticism simply because she’s a woman.

I actually feel you girls, as (sensible) feminists should support another woman who has the guts to openly shame and unflinchingly write about her love life despite the fact that shes beaten down for the exact same reason and not apologizing for it, and because it’s upto feminists to defend unfair judgements against a woman, even if they fairly have a few points that makes them not like her fully.

So we should blindly support her simply because she’s a woman? Without taking into account whether she’s talented or intelligent or interesting? Isn’t that kind of insulting to Taylor? Because even though she happens to be all those things, you’re asking me to base my entire judgement of her as a person and a performer solely on her gender — and let me tell you right now, that’s not feminism.

I guess now is probably an appropriate time to tell you what feminism actually is. Personally, I base my understanding of the concept of feminism on the definition of the word feminism. Weird, right? I’m just literal like that. According to the online version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘feminism’ is defined as:

“The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

Men and women should be treated equally. That’s it. (Although I’d also extend the definition to include not just men and women, but all sexes and genders in between.) You’ll notice it doesn’t say anything about women giving other women immunity from criticism, anything about responsibilities being conferred on someone simply by virtue of being a member of a certain group, or anything whatsoever giving you, me, or anyone else the authority to impose their views on anyone else.

And yet we continue to receive comments like the following, trying to tell us we’re bad feminists just because we employ an equal-opportunity policy in our criticism:

“And don’t dare call yourselves feminists here with this kind of attitude towards women plastered all over your website.”

I never signed a contract to keep any of my opinions to myself, even if they’re inconvenient to others — regardless of gender. I don’t see feminism as a big poofy cloud intended to protect women from criticism and comment, and I’d personally be offended if anyone tried to do that to me. Being treated with respect and honesty is my right as a woman human, even when it’s uncomfortable.

To turn this into a real world example: as a woman, can you imagine coming out of a job evaluation with your female boss having heard only great things about your performance when you’re actually just doing a mediocre job? Wouldn’t it make you feel kind of shitty to know that you were being more gently just because you’re a woman? Would that interaction feel empowering to you? Would it give you incentive to improve? To challenge yourself? To start a dialogue? I’m guessing probably not.

And on the other side, if you had gotten an honest critique, what right would someone else have to come in and try to protect you from that honesty just because you’re a woman? I feel like that’s inserting the subject of gender into a conversation it didn’t figure into in the first place, and feminism is used as a mask for that way too often. Feminism means having a choice to behave exactly how you want — whether that’s as a CEO, a teacher, an astronaut, a snarky blogger, a stay-at-home parent, a best-selling artist who takes her husband’s name, or any other number of opportunities that are available to people of all genders.

So before you yell at me for being anti-feminist just because I refuse to treat men and women differently, do me a favor and remind yourself of just how backward that concept is. Because let me tell you right now, there isn’t a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women — it’s just the regular hell for all of us, and I’ll be sure to look for you when I get there.

(Photo: FayesVision / WENN.com)

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  • CMJ
    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Eeeeeeee!

    • CMJ

      Seriously, though. This post is great. I have been finding more and more people lately have just been calling even the smallest criticism “mean” and “anti-feminist.”

      YOU ARE A HORRIBLE WOMAN BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE XXXXX’s LIPSTICK!!

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      And challenging women’s decisions because they aren’t in keeping with their own! Like when Beyonce called her tour ‘The Mrs. Carter Tour’. How is it anti-feminist for her to do exactly what she wants?

      There’s no rule saying she HAS to change her name to her husband’s, so she’s making a choice to do so. And choices are always inherently feminist because they represent options and free will and independence and individuality and all that glorious stuff.

  • JLH1986

    It’s only “not feminist” to criticize Taylor if we wouldn’t be willing to criticize a man for the same terrible songs. I’m totally willing to criticize any person (regardless of gender or gender expression) if EVERY SINGLE SONG they write is about their past relationships. If Taylor were a friend I would tell her STOP DATING and find something else to write about. If Taylor had a penis I would tell him the same thing. I don’t like her music, her singing or her interviews. But apparently I’m not supposed to say that because I also happen to have a vagina? Negative ghostrider.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Totally agreed, right down to the ‘negative ghostrider’.

    • CMJ

      Yes! I say the same stuff about John Mayer. HE IS INSUFFERABLE.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Oh god yes.

    • JLH1986

      Freaking John Mayer. I do all I can to avoid posts about him because he’s a first rate dbag.

  • AJ

    You knocked it out of the park again Alexis. Great article!

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Hey thanks! That’s so nice!

  • Reiji01

    You know, the reason why I clicked on this article was the title, pretty alluring bearing in mind that I’ve always asked myself why are women so mean with each other. Last night I saw a movie called “Blue is the warmest color” and it puzzled me more because not only were mean on each other but also, many lesbians were “men haters”, it’s a mistery if you think that many gay men love women (as friends).

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Reading your comments elsewhere on this article, I can imagine that many things would be mysterious to you.

    • Reiji01

      Passive-Agressive mode. Thanks to you at least now I know that feminists are regular women at the end of the day.

    • Reiji01

      Passive-Agressive mode ON.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      I’m glad I finally found that switch. It’s been stuck OFF for weeks now!

    • Reiji01

      What can I say? I’ve got that effect on women. It’s funny how feminists are simple women in their core.

  • Eileen

    Of course it doesn’t. It just means don’t critique other women in a gendered way.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Can you explain what you mean by that?

    • Eileen

      Sure. Critique them all you want, but as people, not as women. (She doesn’t have to be a “lady,” and being mean doesn’t make her a “bitch” or “cunt,” for example)

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Oh yeah definitely. I don’t think I did that, do you?

    • Eileen

      I don’t spend enough time here to know for sure, but I don’t think so. I’m just generally reacting to the surprising number of people who really just don’t get it.

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  • vanessa

    Look BITCHES get over yourselves. I don’t give a flying f*ck about the 60 year old feminist in tgese comments. You know what you feminists are? A bunch of hypocrites! I am a woman and I am not an anti feminist.My own sister claims to be a feminist (whatever). Anyways you people are the worst you sit on your asses and judge a womans life a woman who is making her own choices and decisions and is doing what she wants! Leave her the hell alone. So what if she wants to Make songs about ex boyfriends she can make songs about whtever the hell she wants and she can do what she wants and what the hell happened to sisterhood? Youre supposed to uplift women not tear them down.to hell with you all. I want to send you all a big FUCK YOU. Goodbye.

  • vanessa

    Im late but I hope somebody reads this ill give you a BIG piece of my mind damn bullies