The definition of feminism, no matter what anyone tries to tell you, is simple. “Political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”
But beyond the definition, things get complicated.
It’s no question that most high-powered, top-dollar professions are occupied by men. Politics and journalism are two fields at the forefront of our country right now, and men heavily dominate both. Less than 20% of the United States Congress is women. Of the 7,383 state legislator positions in America, women hold only 1,842. According to Women’s Media Center, work by women in the broadcast news sector has fallen in the last year. On major network’s evening news, men report three times as much as women do.
Women have to work twice as hard in these fields to reach the same levels of success men do, and are likely to face blatant sexism once they do. Knowing the difficulties women face when working in male-dominated fields, it’s important for women to empower and uplift each other. Having women to look up to that have broken the mold and continuously fight to hold their ground while they’re surrounded by men, is awesome.
But…. what if we don’t agree with these women? Do they still deserve our admiration and respect? As feminists, do we need to support these women, simply because they’re women?
This is where things get complicated.
Is celebrating a woman, just because she is a woman, really that different than dismissing a woman, just because she is a woman? I think you can respect a woman’s work ethic and tenacity in succeeding where few other women have without supporting her ideals and values. Because when women hold positions on issues of social justice that are harmful to feminism and equality as whole, we become just as much of the problem when we support them.
Women like Kellyanne Conway and Tomi Lahren have both made waves in their respective fields. Both have been successful, and their determination could be considered admirable. But I will not support and enable any of the off-colored, offensive messages these women have conveyed.
Tomi Lahren is constantly calling out the “feminists” who criticize her for her appearance on Twitter. She’s right to call them out. But wrong to call them feminists. Because if we’re going to critique these women, their appearance shouldn’t be the topic of conversation. Step away from the hair and the outfits. Step away from the makeup and other physical attributes. Focus on policy. Focus on words. Focus on actions. Only then, can we decide if these women in high-powered positions are worthy of our support.
Feminism means equality- meaning we need to hold women to the same standards as their male counterparts. Someone making a career off of bigotry and racism is not someone deserving of support, no matter what gender they are. By using feminism as an argument in support of these women, we’re failing ourselves and we’re failing each other. We’re ignoring intersectional issues and becoming a part of the problem rather than a piece of the solution.
On a personal level, we need to strive to respect and uplift other women. On a professional level, we need to hold women to the same standards we hold men in the same positions to.
Because until gender is not a factor in how we choose who we look up to and support, we have not truly reached gender equality.