Image: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
I’ve heard a lot of this online, the concept that we as women must follow, support, believe, and applaud all other women, and if we don’t we are betraying our gender.
I call bullshit.
There seems to be a notion going around, that if you are a woman you must unilaterally support all other women, no matter what. I disagree. As a person with free will, I reserve the right to make up my own mind. I should be able to say things like "I’d never vote for her" without an angry internet lynch mob coming to set my hair on fire for it. I should be able to say "I don’t believe her" or "I don’t like her" without people accusing me of betraying my gender.
But that’s not the case. For example, if you’re an American woman right now, it’s almost expected that you’ll vote for Hillary Clinton. There’s this expectation for women to support other women, no matter what. Even if you disagree with everything they stand for you’re still expected to follow them, vote for them, and praise them, if for no other reason than that they are also female.
The thing is, even if you’re a feminist, you owe your gender no special allegiance. You are free to like, follow, and support whomever you feel is worthy. You don’t have to praise people you don’t agree with simply because they check the same box as you. Feminism is about the freedom to do, be, and say what you want and not be tied down or held back by out-dated societal ideals that often put one gender above another. It’s not the misguided notion that if you don’t vote for Hillary you’re betraying your gender.
There’s no such thing as betraying your gender. Women don’t have to agree with other women and implying that they do is actually the opposite of feminism. You can’t stand up for equality, but take away people’s right to their own opinion. You can’t want women to be equal in everything, but control who they support and like. There’s also a whiff of double-standards here, after all, men are never accused of betraying their gender for not siding with other men.
Part of equality is recognising that everyone has a right to have their own opinion, and a right to voice that opinion. It is not equality to try to dictate whom a woman can and cannot support, like, or follow. We are free to think what we want and women need to stop accusing other women of betraying their gender simply because they fail to agree with another woman.
Uniformity and agreement should never be a condition for membership to the sisterhood.