7 Things Women Should Never Shame Other Women For Because There's No Reason We Have To Perpatuate Patriarchy
We live in a culture where women's life choices are often criticized, and it's very easy to fall into that trap, even if you're a woman yourself. However, there are some things women should never shame other women for. Because even though patriarchy is all around us, that doesn't mean we have to play a part in perpetuating it.
There are all sorts of harmful cultural messages aimed at women, from the idea that women can or should "have it all" to the way things that are traditionally feminine are coded as shallow or unimportant to the simple fact that women are expected to confine ourselves to traditionally feminine things in the first place. Be it beauty standards or ideas about women in the workplace, women are tapped by a series of often contradictory expectations, and we often face intense judgement no matter what we do.
Which is why, as women, we all need to make an effort not to buy into those myths, and not to judge other women by those messed up standards.
Which isn't to say you can't ever criticize other women — women make mistakes and do bad things, just like men. But there are some things that women just don't deserve to be shamed over. Here are just a few examples.
Our Sex Lives
Even though women have a lot more sexual freedom than we used to, women who choose to have sex still face a lot of shaming, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes very blatantly. Whether it's blatantly slut-shaming someone to their face or even just implying there's a certain number of sexual partners that makes a woman "trashy," it's never OK to shame other women for choosing to have sex.
And by the same token, it's also not OK to shame women for not having sex, either. Or to judge someone for having sex with someone of the same sex, or for having certain kinds of sex or for anything else. Women are allowed to make whatever choices we want when it comes to sex, just so long as you aren't actively hurting someone. Whether that means having threesomes with strangers every day of the week or planning to only have sex with one partner ever, our choices are our own.
Women get judged for wearing clothes that are "too" revealing or "too" conservative — not that there are even reliable definitions of what those mean. We're judged for being too into fashion, or for not being fashionable enough. We're judged for wearing clothes that supposedly "don't work" for our body type. We're judged for dressing too feminine or for not dressing feminine enough. And all of it is ridiculous. Clothes are a form of self-expression, and women are allowed to express ourselves however we want — even if the message is just "It's 95 degrees outside so I'm wearing short shorts today."
Wearing Or Not Wearing Makeup
As with clothes, there are a lot of mixed messages about makeup, and it really seems like you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Girls who do wear makeup — especially if it's noticeable — are dismissed as frivolous or get concern-trolled about how "You should love yourself just the way you are!" Meanwhile girls who don't wear makeup are often criticized for not "putting in enough effort" and face backlash for not living up to society's beauty standards for women.
Just like clothes, makeup is a way women express ourselves, take ownership over our appearance, and just have some fun. Whatever choices a woman makes about makeup are hers, and if she's happy with those choices, she doesn't deserve to be shamed for them.
Being "Too Outspoken"
There's this cultural stereotype that women are supposed to be agreeable and non-confrontational and above all quiet. And because of that it's easy to perceive women who speak up as "pushy" or "improper" or any number of other things. But women have just as much right to express ourselves as men do, and being a feminist means supporting other women's voices and our willingness to use them.
Society's messed up ideas about body image don't just affect women, but due to the fact that Western culture also has a nasty habit of defining a woman's worth by her beauty — or rather her appearance to white, Western beauty standards — these body ideals hit women particularly hard. They can also be particularly psychologically damaging. All of which are important reasons why shaming a woman for her weight is never OK.
Our Reproductive Choices
Whether it's using a particular form of of birth control, having an abortion, or choosing not to have an abortion, it's never OK to shame women for our reproductive choices. Women have a right to decide what to do with our bodies, and to make choices about whether or not we want children. In fact, without that, it's hard for women to truly have control over our own lives at all. And we should always feel free to make those choices without facing shaming from other women.
Whether Or Not We Stay Home With Our Kids
This is the classic damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario all mothers face. If women choose to go back to work after we have kids, there are people who criticize us for abandoning our children. If we stay home, there are people who say we're throwing our careers away. It's apparently almost impossible to just accept that women are capable of making decisions about what's best for our particular circumstances.
In fact, you could say that assumption — that women aren't capable or qualified or ethically entitled to make decisions for ourselves — is at the root of a lot of these issues. And once you reject that fallacy, it becomes clear that shaming women for these sorts of choices is just not a good thing to do.
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