My recent Women’s Prospects article, The Nasty Factor, Dealing With Toxic Women has garnered a bit of attention, largely positive responses, sparking much needed and welcomed dialogue on various issues including feminism, bullying, standing by your opinions and the need for women to be affable.
As any publisher would be, the Women’s Prospects Team were excited about the attention the piece received, having been asked to engage with readers, I decided it was best to write a follow up piece to say thanks for reading and as Bethenny Frankel so aptly put it, to request that some people Get Off My Jock, pretty please, with a cherry on top and a smiley face, before I get accused of being impolite.
Am I a feminist? Am I anti-feminist?
My response is, am I required to be? Is it mandatory that because I am a woman, I should be oblivious to the fact that there are women in the world who are less than kind to other women? Does being a feminist require me to only acknowledge the positive things that women do? If so, that seems like a rather myopic perspective. I view the world as a whole and feel that there is almost always a positive and negative synergy in almost everything in life.
I have always considered myself a champion of women, on various levels both professionally and personally. Throughout my life I have volunteered for womens groups, helped champion causes and have been diligent about fully utilizing all the opportunities that women before me worked so hard for women in the world to achieve. The right to an equal education as a man, is personally dear to me, I have a Law Degree, as well as a Masters from one of the best universities in the World. I encourage every woman to pursue an education because knowledge is power and the opportunity to learn was not something that women around the world have always had. A heartbreaking reality is that education is still something that many women dont have access to and should be a mission of both the feminist and anti-feminist alike, because educating women is better for all humanity, not just feminists.
So, the million dollar question, am I a feminist? If being a feminist requires me to not have a contrary opinion, be allowed to express myself or share my views, then Im probably not a feminist by that narrow definition. From my perspective, the issue with that definition is the imposition on personal thought and the restriction of freedom of expression, which may inherently be anti-feminist. Its a bit like being the thought police, a woman is a feminist by one definition or else shes out the Club.
What if a woman decides she doesnt aspire to be a feminist, should she be judged and burned at the stake. The issues with many of these labels is that they only serve to further divide and exclude people. I dont have to be labeled in a persons opinion as a feminist to do good by women and work for a better future for other women. I dont need to be a feminist or an anti-feminist to accomplish that,I firmly believe thats my social responsibility as a human being. Perhaps then, Im not a feminist, but an advocate for humanity if I have to fit into a narrow prism of a label.
The issue of bullying is a prevalent one. I’m uncertain if raising awareness to it is anti-feminist, however its a very real issue, especially among young women. Forbes has an excellent and thought provoking piece titled Why Women Are The Worse Kind Of Bully’s. I personally don’t view the growing awareness of these things as anti-feminist, but rather as a call for all of us to be more cognizant of how we behave towards not only other women but humanity.
Both men and women should strive to lift as they climb, thats the way the world moves forward. As any good business person can attest, identifying weak spots is critical for success, the forecast doesnt have to perpetually be all sunshine with roses to be a feminist. My hope in writing the article was that it would spark dialogue and encourage a more cognizant movement towards kindness.
The Need To Be Affable
I don’t need to be liked by anybody! Its perhaps the most liberating feeling in the world and I wish even more women would get on board. Dr Steve Maraboli said it best When I accept myself, I am freed from the burden of needing you to accept me. The world has encouraged women and little girls to be affable, which in reality has often resulted in many of us contorting ourselves in various versions of other peoples expectations to meet their needs and not our own.
I live from a place of purpose and strive to be worth knowing, rather than well known. Im the type of woman that prefers to walk alone if the crowd is walking in the wrong direction. To stand for something, rather than fall for anything if thats what it means to be popular. If that makes me anti-feminist for some, thats all right with me.
Get Off My Jock, Please!
The responses to the piece have been largely positive; a few have ascribed things that were not within the realm of my imagination at the time of writing. Read my writing, don’t read my writing, love my writing or hate my writing, all are your fundamental right. The urge to rush to judgment and label another women a good or bad woman, is rather anti-feminist if you think about it. I’ve seen it far too often, especially with celebrities, if another woman’s expressions of her experiences don’t align with yours, attempting to publicly shame her for having a different opinion and impose your own, is anti-feminist in my view.
The spirit of it all seems rather chauvinistic, can we all co-exist, if your views are different that perfectly fine but express them within a responsible space without migrating from the issue to the individual, as Bethenny Frankel would say, Get Off My Jock!