Know what sucks? When something that’s meant to empower one group hurts another group. It’s especially enraging when group one really needs some empowerment and support because they’re generally ignored, derided, or disrespected. Or when group two is already in power and has major advantages.
But here’s the thing: If an action is supposed to make you feel better about yourself, but does so by mocking or scorning someone else, it’s insidious. It’s beneath you. It’s flat-out bad. Because your self-worth and confidence shouldn’t be contingent on your “superiority” to anyone, and because this kind of comparison shows an alarming lack of self-awareness. Try as hard as you can to find what’s good about you by examining you, not by holding yourself up to others.
The Internet is swamped with quotes and pins and slogans talking about “real” women. And although most of these quotes and pins and slogans refer to physical traits – curves, muscles, fitness, etc. – some of them also focus on motherhood, the gender someone is assigned at birth, faith, and other divisive concepts. Because CLEARLY, women don’t have enough challenges already with pay inequality, healthcare issues, a culture that glamorizes sexual violence, gender-specific ageism, maternity leave battles, and the general belief that somehow, after all this time and all we’ve done, we’re still not as smart or capable as men. What we really need is to find ways to turn against each other by aligning ourselves with choices or traits that aren’t even remotely universal! So let’s alienate enormous groups within the larger umbrella by declaring that in order to be a “real” woman, you have to tick one or more arbitrary boxes. That’ll keep the in-fighting going for a good long time.
(Hopefully that sarcasm was laid on thick enough for ya.)
I realize that all women aren’t sisters. I understand that we cannot possibly all agree on everything, and that we will never band together globally as a gender. I also understand that some women are just assholes, and there’s no excuse for assholery. But those women who are assholes? They’re real. They’re just as real as Malala and Lauren Bush. And the women in Hollywood and on the runways who fit a very narrow beauty-body paradigm? Also real. In fact, no matter who someone is, what they look like, where they live, what they do, or what they believe, denying their existence by saying they’re “not real” is wholly unproductive and frankly bizarre.
Women are far too many things to be generalized by a single trait or choice. So resist the urge to put a subset into a bucket labelled “real.” Because it’s just not true and it’s just not helping.