I've been a feminist pretty much since I came out of my mother's womb. I love women, and I've always had a lot of female friends. My mom and sister are my two most trusted confidants, my nieces have changed my entire outlook on life, and I'm also genuinely attracted to women as well as men. But I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't always viewed other women the way I do now. I'm not proud of it, but the way I judged my fellow females in the past was actually pretty sad and ignorant at times. The worst part is, I honestly had no idea how backwards I was being. Fortunately, the way I view other women has really changed in my twenties, and I could not be more grateful for that fact.
If you can remember a time when you used to say, "Girls are such drama, guy friends are way more chill," and it makes you wish time travel was a real thing so you could give your younger self a lecture on the importance of female friendship, then you know what I'm talking about. If the thought of calling any woman a slut makes you really uncomfortable now, but there was a time when it wouldn't have, then you can truly understand how thankful I am that my twenties have totally changed how I view other women. Here are five ways my perspective on other women has changed in my twenties.
1. I See Women As Teammates Instead Of Competitors
Obviously, women do have to compete with other women for some things, (like jobs, scholarships, and actual competitions) but I used to feel like I had to compete with other women for everything, from love interests to writing positions to (please, don't judge me) attention.
What I've learned in my twenties is this: there's enough of all of those things to go around, and attention is overrated. I've also learned that if someone wants to be with you, like really wants be with you, it's no competition. I certainly don't know why I used to be so worried that other female writers would take work away from me, because we all have very unique voices and perspectives to offer. (Plus, there's actually a lot of writing opportunities out there if you know where to look and you're willing to work your butt off.)
Now that I'm in my mid-twenties, I see other female writers (and just other females in general) as a part of my team. I know now that their success won't take away from mine, because their skill and talent doesn't undo my own. They inspire me with their stories, they make me want to be a better writer and person, and I would much rather root for all of us to succeed than think that only a few of us can.
2. I Admire Female Beauty More Than I Feel Threatened By It
I'm still not as body positive as I think I should be, but my twenties have taught me to admire the beauty of other women instead of allowing myself to feel threatened by it. I'm not going to pretend I never compare my body to the curvier bodies of other women; the thought "I hope my ex's next girlfriend isn't hotter than me" has crossed my mind lately, but I feel like I've come a long way. I used to see other beautiful women and think I needed to look more like them, or that they were more "desirable" than I was because they had bigger boobs or more booty.
Nowadays, I'm not ashamed to admit that I frequently look at my butt in the mirror and go, "damn, girl." I also frequently hit up Rihanna's Instagram just to marvel at her palpable sexiness, and it's really fun for me. Thankfully, my twenties have helped me get to a place where I just want to celebrate how gorgeous other women are instead of feeling jealous of their beauty, because we're all beautiful. I'm finally realizing that the smoking hot bodies of other women don't make my body any less beautiful or strong, and it feels awesome.
3. I Want To Support Women's Sexual Choices, Not Judge Them
I'm one of those people who genuinely enjoys monogamy, and I used to think women who were into open relationships were crazy. I also used to have a difficult time understanding how women (and men, for that matter) could have lots of sexual partners. But the older I get, the more I want to support women for embracing their sexuality, whether that means their sex number ends up being 1, 10, or 100. And even though I can't relate to it, I applaud women who are comfortable being polyamorous.
I feel more strongly now than I ever have that no woman should be ashamed or afraid to pursue the sex life she wants. Sex is important and healthy, and it's a basic human need.
4. I Enjoy Working With Lots Of Women
I hate admitting this, but I used to think working with all women would be the worst. To be fair, I've had some unfortunate experiences with female coworkers in the past, and one of my former female bosses was quite mean. But never again will I utter the words, "I'd hate to work with all women." I've learned in my twenties that working with all women is freaking awesome, and all of my favorite bosses to date have been female.
Now that I'm freelancing full-time, I don't have to worry about the coworker thing for the time being — but I love that all my current editors are these smart, kind, helpful, and successful women. It makes me feel empowered to see so many women killing it in their fields while simultaneously helping other women succeed. Now I can't imagine not working with lots of women.
5. I Value Female Friendship More Than Ever
My twenties have taught me that romantic relationships are unpredictable, and often disappointing — but lifelong buddies are the real deal. I value female friendship more now than I ever have, because I'm learning more and more that women really do need other women. Not that guy friends aren't great, but there's just something so comforting and empowering about having a strong, supportive group of girl friends.
I'm moving to NYC soon, and even though I'm single for the first time since I was 21, what I'm really concerned about is making some awesome female friends (or even just one awesome female friend) after I get there. Dating sounds just as stressful to me right now as it sounds fun, but having a fantastic female friend to explore the city with? That would be amazing.