“Feminism says as a woman in my arena you are not my competition. As a woman, in my arena, your light doesn’t make mine any dimmer”. Blood Orange samples the poet Ashlee Haze on their new album Freetown Sound, and this bit specifically is from the song “By Ourselves”. Haze puts forth the ever important idea that women should not be in competition with one another, but instead see the beauty that each female brings to the table. 2017 has been a turning point for females, in terms of banding together to celebrate and love their gender. And with the Trump administration’s new health care bill threatening not only women, but minorities, the elderly, and those not within the 1%, it is more important than ever that females unite, and stand together as one.
However, this isn’t always the case. The third wave of feminism is in motion, but there is still so much hate between girls. As a whole, we support each other; we band together against injustice, as seen at the Women’s Marches across the globe. But more often than not, individually, girls rip each other apart. She’s fat, she’s ugly, she’s a slut, she’s boring. Why do we continue to tear each other to pieces?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent many a middle school slumber party eating pizza, talking about crushes, and watching Mean Girls. Premiering in 2004, Tina Fey, comedic icon and one of my favorite women, wrote the screenplay for Mean Girls, which follows the story of new girl Cady Heron, and her journey going from nobody to prom queen. Along the way she meets Regina George, queen bee, along with George’s posse, otherwise known as “The Plastics”. As Cady gets to know the most popular girls in school, she discovers the coveted yet disgusting relic near and dear to “The Plastics” hearts, called “The Burn Book”. “The Burn Book”, essentially a scrapbook with pictures of every girl in the school, with crude, degrading remarks fit to each individual, gets around after some pretty basic girl on girl betrayal. This leads to Ms. Norbury, sarcastic math teacher, and portrayed by Fey herself, taking all the girls to the gym to realize the extent to which words hurt; especially when coming from other girls. In one of the most underrated lines from the movie, Norbury says, “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”. Too true, Ms. Norbury, too true. If we demean each other, what’s to stop guys from doing the same? We cannot expect respect from one gender when we don’t receive it from our own.
We live in a world where women are constantly trying to prove they can keep up with men. While it should be a given women can do anything men can, for some reason our society has still not accepted this. In a time where women constantly compete with men, we cannot also compete with our sisters. We cannot put other women down to prove we are better. We cannot fight other women for our place. There is so much we need to accomplish, especially under a president whose sexist remarks and xenophobic attitudes are constantly invading our daily lives and television screens.
There is so much we need to accomplish, and if women are tearing each other down, it will only make the process more strenuous and lasting. But when we work together, the possibilities are endless. The Women’s March on January 21st was the largest single day protest in United States history. But it wasn’t just the US making a statement. That day, there were 673 marches worldwide. Women banded together to make a worldwide change. This power is extraordinary, and can only truly be accomplished if we all respect one another.
In my own life, I have found girls make fun of, or gossip about, or compare themselves to other girls out of insecurity. I’m no saint. I can’t tell you I haven’t talked about another girl behind her back. I have. And did that make me feel better about myself? No. Belittling another female gets us nowhere. There is so much hatred in our world today that we cannot add fuel to the fire by devaluing our own gender. We cannot tear each other down. We must build each other up.
We have to understand we are not competing against one another. There isn’t a limited amount of space in our world for talented, intelligent, interesting women, and we must change the mindset that we have to beat out other girls for these spots. If we as women stand in solidarity, we can get so much more done and make so much more change than if we keep making each other feel bad. So let’s cut it out! Stop calling the girl with an active social life a whore. Stop calling the girl who isn’t a size four fat. Stop calling the quiet girl boring. We need to quit the slut shaming and body shaming and let go of “The Burn Book” we all have in our heads and let all of our unique lights shine together.
Article originally posted on Bold Magazine