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Girl on Girl Feminism

August 25, 2011

I have a confession to make. I hate feminists. Okay, not all feminists, only the ‘Be the Doctor, Not the Nurse’* feminists. The ‘career-oriented’ feminists who believe marriage and children** will hold a woman back. My best friend, Elle, used to be one of these. That was until I became a happily married, working mother. My career didn’t go where I thought it would, but my life is richer for doing more.

Anyways, being of the women-can-do-anything-they-choose-to-do-and-sometimes-better-than-a-man-can persuasion I was (sorry, there’s just no other word) offended seeing this on Huffington Post today: ‘Michelle Bachmann’s Style Trouble.’

I’m all for Fashion Police, but Arianna should have pulled this one. And therein the lies the problem with modern feminism: women have become our own worst enemies.

Back in 2008, when the fabulous Hilary Clinton*** was running, I heard women gripe over how they could never vote for such a “bitch” – their word, not mine. I was a college student in DC, almost all of my friends had interned on the Hill or in another political office. Almost all of my friends could agree that they had a boss who was a jerk.

Before the 112th Congress became more commonly known as the worst Congress in history, the majority of Americans would still have classified politicians as swindlers, liars, cheaters, or otherwise jerks. We voted for them anyway because – cynicism aside – they were doing an okay job and were probably better than the alternative.

Enter Sarah Palin, who despite being ill-informed and not very good at answering questions, smartly marketed herself as a woman candidate. She stood tall and proud in her new designer wardrobe and said ‘I am a hot mama and I’m gonna run!’ That is still the essence of her popularity, she is relatable.****

We – women, I mean – can continue to blame the man for keeping us down. But we need to step up and accept that a lot of women’s issues today were created by women (look here, herehere, and here***** for perfect examples.)

Lisa Bloom, Author of ‘Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World” wrote an article every feminist needs to read: “How to Talk to Little Girls.” I’ll summarize: stop telling little girls they are so pretty! They are also smart and funny and have interests.

By reiterating over and over to a young girl that she is so pretty, she comes to believe that single characteristic is the only one that matters. We all have friends who are beautiful, smart, successful, but also unbelievably insecure. The root cause is simple: she has come to believe that her best asset is one that is fleeting.

For a week or so after reading that article, I tried to keep count every day how many times someone told Baby Girl “You are so pretty!” I would then say “You are so smart!” or “You did it all by yourself!” at least that many times. It was impossible. And worse, women were always the ones saying it.

*My mother and sister are both cancer nurses. They are both brilliant and caring professionals who have more patient relationships, more money/less debt, more quality time, and more control over their schedules than the doctors they work with, so who’s smarter?

**The ability to bear children is what makes me stronger than a man, I am going to celebrate that.

***I once met Hilary Clinton in an elevator. Okay, I met her 3″, navy blue, double strap, gold clasp Mary Janes. It’s more accurate to say that I didn’t meet Hilary Clinton in an elevator because I was too focused on whether I could discern the designer of those impeccable shoes.

****Except for all those men who idolize her in a lingering teenage hot-for-teacher, Stacy’s Mom-style fantasy. This explains so much about Fox News, doesn’t it!

*****Men don’t watch these shows, the value of the teen girl viewer has driven the celebrity culture we all love-to-hate.

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