Companies have been profiting off of internalized misogyny for decades, successfully advertising products as ways to make us better than other women. In popular media, whether it’s through magazines or movies, women being in a constant battle with one another has always sold. Women have been brought up to believe that other women are our enemy. Scholars have suggested that this is simply an evolutionary technique; women are often “catty” towards one another because in order to reproduce with the best male, we must compete with other women to come out on top. However, this argument is heteronormative, sexist, and lazy.
Feminist theory and activism has tried to change this, and has been moderately successful. Feminist psychology argues that the tendency to pit ourselves against other women is compelled by social pressures and not biological ones. Women are not naturally vindictive to one another, and especially not because we’re competing for our male mates. Women are socially conditioned to be that way through the media we consume and the way our society wants us to be raised, and we are starting to call bullshit. Competing against other women over trivial matters has been generally accepted in more than just feminist spaces as not the way to go. It is more welcomed now for women to support one another and stick out for each other. And it’s great!
Women are more likely now to call out tabloids when they try to pit to female celebrities against each other or even when their own peers do the same. However, there is a fine line between needless fighting because of the social patriarchal norm of hating other women and holding someone accountable for problematic behavior.
The call for women to stick up for each other instead of fight is an amazing trend. But it’s starting to turn into a trend of women not wanting to take responsibility for their problematic behavior. For example, let’s go over the VMA debacle.
When Nicki Minaj dared to complain over the Anaconda VMA snub on Twitter, Taylor Swift took it as a personal offense. “It is unlike you to pit women against each other,” she tweeted. Yikes! Keep in mind, not only was Minaj’s anger completely valid, considering the Anaconda video broke all kinds of records when it was released and will continue to be an iconic video for the rest of time, but Swift also assumed that the tweet was about her, and tried to turn it into a men vs. woman kind of feud.
And since it’s unacceptable for a black female celebrity to be angry, they made up and all was well again. Until Miley Cyrus got involved, spewing hippie-dippie, “yoga mantra,” about “openness and love” bullshit while also claiming that “Nicki Minaj is not too kind.” Her ignorant, out-of-line comments resulted in the ultimate best clapback of all time, when Nicki asked, “Miley, what’s good?”
Both Swift and Cyrus brought up good points. Women should not be pitted against each other, and we should all be kind to one another. But bringing up these seemingly out-of-nowhere arguments just goes to show that they were conscious about their white privilege being provoked, and it made them uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough to turn a black artist’s justifiable anger over racism and body shaming in the music industry to the need for women to support other women, not try to fight them. And that is when the perfectly reasonable argument of women needing to stick up for one another to rise above internalized misogyny becomes a pathetic scapegoat and defense.
Supporting our fellow woman is a huge part of feminism. However, disregarding someone’s wrongdoings because she is a fellow woman is not good feminism. The woman vs. woman defense will quickly become a weak one if it’s overused and bastardized when a white feminist does not want to be held accountable for being problematic.