Outside the Good Ol’ Girls Club: When feminism exludes

Britt Kidder

You know what’s awful about high school? Teenagers. Characteristically insufferable people with a desperation to fit in — into whatever ideal they’ve picked out. Then there are those special ones who want to act like huge jerks as a way to compensate for any personal insecurities. Think of Mean Girls, or just think of your old high school. Luckily, high school doesn’t last forever and you’re eventually free to be your true awkward self, to search out those who share your particular brand of awkwardness and to create a wonderful sort of tribe. Think of your favorite friends. Think of of the people behind Comic-Con, the GOP, or PETA.

Now think of how frustrating it is when such a tribe becomes so big they lose sight of their good intentions and turn into big (acronymed) jerks. The result is self-destruction.

This is why everyone’s been wondering if the GOP can still find its own pulse and the reason PETA can’t– maybe. I’m not affiliated with any of these groups, but what I can conclude is that exclusion and extremism is going to make your tribe implode in a terrible way. Obviously the GOP and PETA are more focused on social issues than the quality of a spandex Superman suit, so the comparison with Comic-Con can only go so far, but even the Catholic Church is starting to see that too much exclusion or extremism can be deadlier than kryptonite. That’s why the new pope is creating such a buzz with his relaxed views on homosexuality and reproductive rights. It’s inclusive, and people like to be included.

How does this relate to the ladies? While the good ol’ boys club has long been guilty of excluding women from professional opportunities through unfair hiring practices (yes, it’s still a problem), lately there’s been some exclusion within our own tribe. Not everyone agrees that feminism has open-enrollment.

Last month was a big month for feminism. Twenty-year-old Miley Cyrus told BBC Radio 1′s Newsbeat, “I feel like I’m one of the biggest feminists in the world because I tell women to not be scared of anything.” Nineteen-year-old Courtney Stodden told Bethenny Frankel, “I know people might think this is funny but I actually feel that I am a true feminist because I believe in women looking the way they want to look, I think real women support women.”

Was there something wrong with this? Some women thought these other women weren’t qualified to be legitimate feminists.

Miley Cyrus needs to go home. She needs to go home now and stop talking about things because honestly there is just too much and we cannot keep up. The newest addition to Miley’s mountain of spoken word nonsense is that she’s a “feminist” now. Does she understand what that word means or…? She’s not wrong [about being comfortable with sexuality], but Gloria Steinem didn’t live so that Miley Cyrus could ride a wrecking ball naked, WE’RE JUST SAYING. Also, Miley wore a long black Disney-witch cloak to the Bambi Awards in Berlin because FEMINISM.

Madison Vanderberg

I think that her comments about shaming women for wearing whatever they want to are valid, and I’m happy any time someone publicly calls for more women to support each other. That being said, I think the way that it’s phrased tends to imply that women inherently don’t support each other, but that’s another post.

Things got a little out of hand with a possible joke (please, please tell me it’s a joke) about her literacy, when Frankel asked if Stodden had plans to write a book. Stodden replied with “I don’t have a book coming out that’s a rumor. I don’t read or write,” which is actually a pretty hilarious joke, in my opinion. And we all know the girl’s literate—just look at her erotica/twitter page!

Julia Sonenshein

Setting aside the ironic cattiness, I found it pretty odd that feminism has made a big point to include sex-workers’ rights, and yet these two women (entertainers) are somehow inappropriate as feminists because of the way they present their sexuality for business purposes. Does their business of sexual provocation somehow disqualify their intelligence? No, and I’d like to introduce you to Mae West.

Just as feminism has dispelled the myth of the perfect woman, let’s agree there’s no such thing as the perfect feminist. We take all kinds because we’ve learned that it makes us stronger, that feminism equals equality and that belongs to all of us regardless of gender, race, geography, or sexuality. So relax, and trust Gloria to know what she’s talking about when she says Miley is not hurting feminism.

“I wish we didn’t have to be nude to be noticed but given the game as it exists, women make decisions. For instance, the Miss America contest is in all of its states, forms … the single greatest source of scholarship money for women in the United States. If a contest based only on appearance was the single greatest source of scholarship money for men, we would be saying, ‘This is why China wins.’ You know? It’s ridiculous. But that’s the way the culture is. I think that we need to change the culture, not blame the people that are playing the only game that exists.”

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