This past Sunday, I was at the Kevin Hart show in Philly laughing/crying my eyes out, having a blast, but when I returned home, I realized that I had missed the VMAs (again). I’m not usually one for award shows; it’s always the same thing: someone said or did something ridiculous, someone wore something weird, the usual. One of this year’s biggest topics, at least on social media, was Nicki Minaj’s “clapback” to Miley Cyrus’ negative comments towards her. Now I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of the Minaj/Cyrus debate, because that will be an entire dissertation on feminism, but I do want to talk in general about how women/girls treat other women/girls in this society.
It should be no secret that America was built on patriarchy and misogyny (amongst other things), meaning that women have been known to be mistreated and demeaned by men. But in many socio-cultural circles, it is actually women that tear down other women. Whether it be through language, attitude or behavior, many women tend to bring down their fellow women when they should really be supporting each other. We judge each other on our bodies, hair, romantic partner choices, expressions of sexuality, you name it, a lot of us do it! And I would be lying if I said that I haven’t done it in the past. I’ve used degrading words to describe my fellow women and I’ve shamed other women for their behaviors and I feel awful for that!
“You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.”
The quote above comes from Tina Fey’s character, Ms. Norbury, in Mean Girls after she discovers the infamous Burn Book and presents it to the junior girls. While this line went over my head in 2004 when I was 12, as I grew older it began to resonate with me more as I heard my peers calling each other all types of negative names. And in a society that already devalues women, calling each other “sluts” or “b****es” further fuels misogynistic views and behaviors. I’ve learned that when watching a video on YouTube, I should refrain from reading the comments section because it’s usually a batch of trolls trying to get a rise out of people. But what saddens me the most is that so many of the legitimate (negative) comments on videos featuring women in almost any capacity are those from other women! Recently I was watching a video of a woman doing her makeup, and too many of the comments were from women shaming her for what she chose to put on her face, and these were the more mild of the commentary.
Whether it be in Hollywood or your neighborhood, we need to do a better job of supporting our fellow women. Most men won’t do it because society hasn’t fostered many of them yet, so it is up to us, as women, to build one another up with our words and actions. We are our only allies, and we should be trying our best to instill confidence into each other and empower one another. Love thy fellow woman, my fellow women!