Cassandra Jeffery
The Silhouette

Ladies, it’s about time we have a serious conversation about gender equality.

There’s a certain issue that I’ve been trying to rack my brain around for quite some time now, and the finger to blame is on us women. Well, the first finger anyways. I’m sure as women we’ve all felt the bitter sting of sexist oppression in one form or another at some point in our lives. And even in the name of progression, unfortunately, I’m sure we will continue to feel the wrath of sexism for decades to come. As much as I dislike the way that society makes me feel as a woman, I absolutely hate the way other women in society can make me feel. As women, we can be the worst perpetrators of sexism and frankly, I’m already fighting one class of gender difference, I don’t have the energy to defend myself from girl-girl sexism.

I can guarantee we’ve all experienced and took part in a form of woman shaming. Now, I’m not going to pretend I’m a saint because though I have been the shamed, I admit I have also been the shamer on various occasions. Only now that I’ve received a certain level of education in women’s rights and a little more experience with age, can I say that I try to be a good feminist and stay away from shaming other women. Just think back to all of the times you commented on a woman’s weight (friend or not). How many times have you referred to a woman’s attire or sex life (presumed or not) with words like ‘slut’ or ‘whore’? When’s the last time you judged a woman based solely on what she looks like? Or, on the flip side, when’s the last time you referred to yourself as a slut because in your mind, because you think you’ve slept with one too many people? Not only is there woman-woman shaming, but we shame ourselves as well. And of course, we understand women’s identity primarily with how we understand society. Society implies women are to act a certain way, especially within the realm of sexuality, so we subconsciously follow suit. For example, how many times have you heard this scenario:

Girl discussing a date—“I went on a date last night with (add random name here) and we ended up sleeping together. But I completely wanted to and they’re only the 5th person I’ve ever been with so at least I’m nowhere near the double digits yet. I’m not like (add other, most likely woman’s, name here). She’s been with 15 people. I’m not that slutty.”

There are so many things wrong with a statement like this I don’t know where to being. First up, why do we always feel the need to justify to ourselves and to others why we were intimate with someone? In my opinion, your sexuality is exactly that: yours! If you’re comfortable, happy and consenting then why does it matter if your “number” is 2, 5 or 35? What might feel right for one woman in terms of sexuality may be completely different for another so let’s please lay off the slut shamming. We don’t allow and appreciate when men refer to us as “sluts” so why is okay for us to shame another woman for her personal sex life?

Women need to start becoming more encouraging to one another. As I’ve said earlier, we’re already facing oppression in society and we need that support and reassurance from other women in order to make solid progress. It’s about time we started to compliment and acknowledge the accomplishments (whether large or small) that other women make. I’m tired of hearing women say “well, she only got that promotion because of [insert angry accusation here].”

Enough.

One of the biggest issues I have with women is the constant weight-shamming culture that continues to exist despite our efforts to promote the ideology of beauty at whatever size. We’ve become big on this idea that curves are sexy but it seems there is a certain ratio quota to meet “curviness.” In a blog post by bellejarblog entitled “10 signs that feminism may not be for you,” the author writes, “you think that there might be a type of body-shaming that is acceptable.” Never in any case is it okay to shame another woman based on her body. We have to remember that we all have bodily autonomy. We choose how to maintain our bodies and it isn’t for anyone else to judge based on our choices. We can push both extremes of the situation; of course you would be concerned if a friend suffered from an eating disorder. It is unhealthy to either be much too thin or obese however we are still not in the right to judge based on such cases.

 

Here’s where the support part comes in. Be a good friend, listen and offer support, but never judgment. Bodily autonomy applies to self-maintenance as well. A women’s choice to grow or shave her body hair is exactly that, a choice. We can choose to have plastic surgery and we can certainly choose whether or not we have children. We must respect the choices of other women despite our own beliefs and opinions. It is her body and her choices, no one else’s. Shaming a woman for her choices only reiterates the gender hierarchy already implicated in society. So I’d say it’s about time we start supporting and encouraging the very people who make up our feminist movement.

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