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Mia Freedman: "No, I'm not 'tearing other women down'."

Is there anyone in the world with whom you agree about everything?

If so, wow. How extraordinary to be so perfectly aligned with another human about everything from politics to pop music and the best chocolate in a box of Cadbury Favourites.

I’m yet to find that person and I suspect they don’t exist. If they did, I imagine we would both be bored.

My husband, my parents, my friends, my co-workers and my children all hold different views to me on a variety of subjects, large and small.

From refugee policy to the relative merits of Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian. An elderly relative even disagrees with me on the subject of same sex marriage. And yet, we all manage to respect one another and defend our right to disagree.

Hell, sometimes I don’t even agree with myself. I like to think my views can evolve and they often do.

Watch: Hey Mia, how do you deal with the haters? Post continues below. 

For example, I used to have a hard line in the sand that said socks should never be worn with sandals.

However, lately some of the women I work with are making me rethink this. They are rocking the sock-sandal look and I’m officially coming around.

Exhibit A:

socks123

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Leggings will never be pants, though. I’m holding firm there so save your breath.

But here’s the thing: I’ve noticed a new term swirling around on social media lately that baffles me.

“Tearing other women down” is an accusation being hurled around more and more by women at women if they dare to publicly disagree with other women.

I’ve copped it twice this week alone, once for asking Michaelia Cash why she doesn’t call herself a feminist and again when I questioned why Kim Kardashian posing a nude selfie makes me feel irritated while Lena Dunham’s body selfies make me fist pump.

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Image via iview.

It was a post examining my own reaction  more than it was an attack on Kim K who is just doing what she’s always done. I wanted to better understand why two similar things made me feel so differently and what that meant.

And yet, the accusations from some women in the comments and in their own response pieces were rife: STOP TEARING DOWN OTHER WOMEN, MIA.

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To paraphrase Carrie Bradshaw: I can’t help but wonder, is this the new way to try and silence female voices under the disingenuous guise of sisterhood?

God, I hope not. Because that would be ironic to the point of absurdity. Wouldn’t it? Women telling women to stop talking about other women because……well, I’m not sure why.

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Mia Freedman, Liz Gilbert and Rebecca Sparrow. Image supplied.

I have some genuine questions for you:

If a woman doesn’t vaccinate her children because she believes some lies she read on the Internet and you disagree with her, are you Tearing Down Other Women?

If a reality star posts a naked photo of herself and you lament our cultural obsession with women’s weight and bodies, are you Tearing Down Other Women?

If a woman you admire refuses to call herself a feminist and you express your surprise and disappointment, are you Tearing Down Other Women?

If a young pop star poses for a sleazebag photographer with a strap-on penis while smoking a joint and you wish she hadn’t done it are you Tearing Down Other Women?

If a female politician uses taxpayer money to hire a helicopter for $5K when she could have driven an hour to the same place and you think she should resign, are you Tearing Down Other Women?

If a famous woman poses in a bikini with her newborn to boast about how much weight she’s lost since giving birth two weeks ago and you roll your eyes are you Tearing Down Other Women?

If a 35 year old female celebrity has so much plastic surgery that she appears unrecognisable and you express regret about the pressure placed on women to be forever young are you Tearing Down Other Women?

If a top earning female athlete fails a drug test and you wonder out loud if she could be a drug cheat, are you Tearing Down Other Women?

If a female Prime Minister announces a policy you strongly disagree with and you declare you won’t vote for her at the next election are you Tearing Down Other Women?

Nah. I don’t think so. If you insert the word “men” in each of those examples, are you tearing down men?

Watch: Hey Mia, have you ever cried at work? Post continues below. 

It’s called having an opinion.

It’s called expressing that opinion.

It’s called disagreeing with someone’s words or actions.

So long as you do it respectfully and without abusive or threatening language, I don’t believe disagreeing with another woman, publicly or privately means you’re Tearing Her Down.

And interestingly, in real life, nobody else believes it either. It seems to be a specific accusation reserved for the Internet with the purpose (ironically) of silencing women.

During conversations with girlfriends, when different views are expressed, I’ve never heard anyone accused of “tearing down other women”.

Opposing views among women about women are simply……opposing views.

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Mia Freedman with Annabel Crabb. Image supplied.

Men disagree with each other publicly and privately every day and I’ve not once heard the expression “Tearing Down Other Men” used to describe it.

So how come men are allowed and even encouraged to disagree – yet women, when we disagree, are bitches who are betraying the sisterhood?

By commenting on something someone is doing or saying, you’re not trying to silence them or stop them from doing it. You’re just commenting on it.

An insistence that all women blindly supporting other women because they’re women is infantalising. It’s patronising. And it makes no sense.

By all means disagree with me. That’s not tearing me down, it’s expressing a different view And I will defend your right to do so.

Just be polite. Don’t be nasty. Because whether you’re disagreeing with a man or a woman, there are smarter ways to make your point.

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