Tiny disclaimer: I began writing this post in 2019 and worked on it in February 2020, as I’d intended. But it wasn’t finished until April 15, 2020. You find it with a February date because I wanted it to belong to that time before a Global Pandemic hit. In those days, this is what I was thinking about. Also, it’s a rant. If you’re looking for something more proactive, please Google Translate C+B, the collaborative project I co-founded in 2013.
It’s February, March will roll over in 10 minutes and we will find ourselves at war. Between women who’d rather be remembered for 364 days than celebrated for one day only, men who’re unsure whether to buy flowers or cower from rebuke, other women seeking to mindlessly celebrate with acquaintances because they were too busy to develop real girl-friendships.
Despite my usual existential optimism, gender issues tend to bring out a nihilistic approach from me; I’d been meaning to write about on the blog for two years.
Specifically, I wanted to discuss three things that are often mistakenly superimposted, and yet they are seldom exercised at once, feminism, sisterhood and female solidarity.
This boggles my mind.
The way my teenage self thought about it, this is the way: every woman should be a feminist by definition, and any feminist woman should aim to reach equality for her whole gender; as a natural consequence she should feel part of a group of peers (a sisterhood), and she should show solidarity for every other woman, providing her help and support.
Then I grew up, I went into the working world, and I found out that some women who are loudly proudly claiming to be feminists are actually fighting for their own equality, not necessarily for the equality of treatment of all women.
I discovered that some women achieve manager positions by pretending not to be a woman, as if they were ashamed of their gender, choosing instead to act like men and making sure no other woman will have the same opportunities they had. As if they thought their success was just a product of some token positioning, so any other woman could usurp it. I was enraged by these examples, and at the same time, I pitied the women who could not shake such an impostor syndrome and own their own well-deserved success.
I attended some Women Entrepreneurs meetings and listened to female entrepreneurs discussing maternity leave and their female employees not differently from what men would have done. I kept a guilty silence (silence is always guilty when an injustice is witnessed, this I know), but I was mostly sad for the opportunity smart women lost to make a difference.
Then Instagram came. On this platform you could be a small influencer and at once find yourself sleeping with a good friend’s boyfriend (after she’d invited you into her home, to support you). I’m told these are things that can happen to anybody, but in the spirit of the sisterhood, you could at least come clean to your friend as soon as you felt the urge to go through with it. You could at least apologize, and feel like shit. On Instagram, instead, you go on to post endlessly about feminism, about your lofty values, you gather the praise of fans who look up to you as a muse while leaving it to that spineless douche who’s your friend’s boyfriend to come clean. Your conscience was washed cleaned by posting about feminism anyway.
The very specific story above is real. It happened last year to people I know. When I scheduled this post idea I meant to write the full names of the people involved for two reasons:
- first of all, I find it appalling that anybody can profit from a fake moral image. The woman who slept with her friend’s boyfriend runs a business where here personal values are central to her value proposition. Those personal values are a hoax;
- secondly, I believe silence is guilty, not stating that what’d happened was wrong made me feel physically ill. As if by not pointing my finger I had become an accomplice.
But there are no names in this blog post because at the end of the day I realized the link between feminism, sisterhood, and female solidarity had a resonance. And the spineless douche boyfriend would have suffered no consequence of being exposed.
If being a feminist means to fight for equal opportunities; if sisterhood is about feeling like all women are on the same boat; if female solidarity manifests itself in lending a hand when another woman stumbles, staying by her side to help her fend off attacks, and helping her climb with us.
If these three things are intertwined (and I think they are), this blog post was an opportunity to remind us of it, and to try and forget all of those times we were meant to say “I’d rather work/spend time with men. At least I know how to defend myself.”
Finally, I would like us to remember that claiming to be a feminist, then disregarding sisterhood and female solidarity, is an empty claim.
That woman who’s walking around with her fake moral will have to face her own conscience. To herself she’ll have to explain not so much how she fell for her friend’s partner (it happens), but why she didn’t have the courage and sensibility to face the music like a woman, rather than like a man.