February 17, 2024

Ladies, Let’s Agree to Do Better.

The day before yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

As I was finishing up what my boyfriend and I call our “movie date from afar,” I saw the breaking news of a public shooting on the crowd celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory parade.

I immediately wondered if it had anything to do with the hateful rhetoric surrounding Taylor Swift being present at the KC games this year.

I know, this probably seems ridiculous. But does it? 

And I have to admit, even considering this possibility, I’m tired. No, that’s not the right word. I’m exhausted. No. Enervated.

I am enervated, ladies. Aren’t you? Aren’t you feeling utterly and exhaustively drained daily by the inundating sound of women hating on other women? Judging one another. Competing with one another. Buying into the bullsh*t?  

This is about us hating on each other. Us buying into the bullsh*t.

I have a hard time believing we are inherently against each other. I truly think we are programmed to be so. And because of this programming, many women just believe we are like this.

And this kind of thinking creates this whirlpool, this revolving door of anger, meanness, and allowance, even acceptance, of it.

I see these videos online of men hating on Taylor Swift for simply being present and supporting her boyfriend. And then I see posts from women supporting this notion that she is the problem. And while I’m inspired to write by this story, this is not the only one.

Exhibit A: I didn’t watch the Golden Globes, but I know the joke made about the “Barbie” movie. And it reminded me of the number of women I heard saying they would not be caught dead going to that movie. And then I heard their sons mocking it as if it were just about a doll. And even if it was, why is that funny? Why are women’s stories not taken seriously by so many…women?

Exhibit B: When the “me too” movement started, I had a female friend comment to me that she thought it was all for attention. She felt it was a bandwagon effect and not an actual reality that most, if not all, women have experienced some form of harassment, following, groping, and so on and have been expected to just take it.  

This is not about political leanings, either; I’ve heard things like this from all over the political spectrum.

Exhibit C: The number of young women on social media mockingly pointing out they are not feminists because they proudly identify as traditional women (“trad wives”).  

This is not because of their choice to live this way. They are welcome to choose the “traditional” role in their partnership. What gets to me is when they proudly proclaim they are not feminists.

Excuse me?  

I am enervated, drained by having to explain over and over to other women that what I believe in is simply that we are of equal value to men, and that’s it. Why would any woman not want to feel of equal value to her male counterparts?  

Should not your work, effort, and energy to raise your children, clean, cook, and do everything else that prepares and maintains a comfortable, supported life for your partner be treated with respect and dignity? That would require being seen and recognized as of equal value.

Feminists ripped (and are continuing to rip) the choice of how you live your life out of the hands of an archaic patriarchal system and put it squarely into the hands of women.

I want that for all of us. I want us to support one another, regardless of the lives we choose to live. And I want us to take one another more seriously. Again, I want us to not buy into the bullsh*t. Women’s stories matter, and they are not lesser than, just because much of recent human history has been a rhetoric of undermining women’s stories, and therefore, the value of women’s opinions and ideas.

Exhibit D: When a student of mine told me this anecdote: 

She was sitting at her desk in between classes when another one of her teachers, a man (this is important here), saw a feminist book on her desk and he asked her, “Are you a feminist?” She shyly laughed and said, “No.” To which this man replied, “Why wouldn’t you be? I am.”  

She told me she was quite impacted by that.   

When I asked her if my being a feminist had the same impact, she said no…but, thankfully, she did start to wonder, why was my being a feminist less impactful and why she was embarrassed by the idea of being seen as one?

I proudly declare I am most definitely a feminist 

I believe men and women have equal value in this world and deserve recognition and respect of that equal value.

I will admit, my being a feminist hasn’t stopped me from having to learn how to be better for my fellow women.  

One example: I used to buy into the narrative about Paris Hilton and her sex tape. Absolutely.  

Until recently, when I was confronted by the full picture of that story. Ms. Hilton was 19 when she gave in to her 31-year-old boyfriend and agreed to be recorded.

I don’t remember that being a part of the new story when it broke. Nor that this girl, this adolescent girl (she was 19, people), was suddenly thrust into the spotlight and mocked, humiliated, disparaged. But I did remember how there seemed to be no comment about the man, the grown man, who coerced her into making the tape.

After being confronted with the full picture, to the core of me I felt that fear she had at the time to maintain the affection of her (ahem, much older) boyfriend. I felt the shame of having given into something you just are not really ready for. I felt the innocence that slips away slightly each time you find yourself in what feels like a compromise of your values, who you are, or what you are comfortable with.

Oh god, and I felt compassion and empathy for her humiliation and shame.  

And I am now left to learn from my own mistakes. To recognize that I, too, was a part of the problem. I always thought I was a woman who supported other women. But, no, I have not always been so. And I am learning that and working to correct these bad habits.  

I am also willing to both admit this and still call myself a feminist, proudly. Because part of life is learning and growing. And being a feminist, I won’t always get it right. Like my former student—and many other women—I have had to recognize the parts of me that needed to be healed and remolded.  

This is why I firmly believe we are not born like that. Because, we can change. We can change our minds, our perceptions, and our narrow views of the world around us. And we all need to face these pasts and presents, ladies, and do better for one another—and for ourselves.

Maybe step one is recognizing our inherited, ingrained biases.

Or, maybe step one is to stop buying into the notion that loving yourself and expecting to be held at equal value to your counterparts is nothing to be ashamed of, but rather something that will allow you to be exactly who you are, choose how you want to live your life, and who you want to spend your life with.

Let us stop buying into the narratives that pigeonhole us or keep us from expanding in any way. Let us recognize when we have perpetuated myths about other women and learn from that and do better.

Can we please love ourselves enough to love each other?  

Because there is a lot of violence out there that is directed specifically at us. And I think we, as women—as a collective—need to be more compassionate with one another. We, better than anybody, know what we deal with in the imbalance of our value.  

Let’s be more mindful of the messages we are putting out there ourselves.  

Let’s not add fuel to the fire.  

Let’s recognize the hate being directed our way when it is directed at the most famous of us. 

Let’s pay more attention to words we use when speaking about each other.

I am not saying we need to like each other or how each of us chooses to live our lives, but we need to be a frontline of not allowing our dislike or distaste to be an excuse to be so hateful and unkind.

Because I am absolutely exhausted and drained of immediately feeling that perhaps an act of violence, such as the shooting yesterday, has anything to do with the hateful rhetoric both men and women are allowing against a young woman whose only fault is she is successful, popular, and now just happens to be dating a celebrated professional footballer.

~

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