opinion

OPINION: Why are women suddenly hating other women so much?

Women have never been worse to other women.

It probably has something to do with women never having greater access to other women.

We see more women, we hear more women and we read more from women than at any other moment in history.

So, what are we doing with this new found voice?

Well, it would seem, yelling very loudly at each to “shut the f*ck up”.

*****

This week, we hate Taylor Swift.

“It’s cool to hate Taylor Swift,” The Guardian published this week. “She’s a social media pariah, the punchline of every meme…  She’s become universally despised to the point where it’s taboo even to admit to feeling sorry for her.”

The Tab published last year, ‘Confession: I hate Taylor Swift,’ written by Alexis Morillo, which cites Gina Florio’s piece for Babe, ‘5 important reasons I can’t love Taylor Swift anymore’.

Junkee writer Matilda Dixon-Smith, tweeted on the day her video clip dropped, “Cheap f*cking shot at Kim KW’s traumatic experience being robbed and tied up in a bath bitch.”

We have no evidence that’s what the film clip is referring to.

And so it’s not that we find her new single a little grating, or her video clips somewhat problematic. ‘Look What You Made Me Do’  has amassed 90 million views on YouTube. It’s inevitable some people are going to hate it.

But it’s not about the song. It never is. You see, Taylor Swift has made mistakes. She painted Kanye West as a misogynist over song lyrics that she endorsed over the phone, and Kim Kardashian has shared the audio to prove it. She took Nikki Minaj’s tweet personally, when Minaj pointed out that all the VMA nominees were all white and thin. She has appropriated black culture in a way that people find offensive.

ADVERTISEMENT

We hate, as Ellie Woodward compellingly argued for Buzzfeed, that she has made a career out of ‘playing the victim’. She’s a young, slim, white, multi-millionaire, who sings songs about being hard done by.

Taylor Swift, who is a few months off her 28th birthday, is an imperfect feminist. We do not see her as a flawed and complex human being, who maybe didn’t know what the term ‘intersectional feminist’ meant until last year, or who sometimes says things and thinks, “… I don’t know why I said that”. That is a luxury we refuse to afford her. “She has enough luxuries,” we mutter to ourselves, looking down at the stain on our $25 t-shirt.

Taylor Swift is not a woman to us. She is an idea. A symbol. And when we are putting ideology over humanity, as Jon Ronson says, there is no space for nuance.

Taylor Swift. Image via Vimeo.

*****

This week, we've also found time to hate Lena Dunham.

Dunham posted a tweet about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) - basically criticising Trump for turning away undocumented immigrant children. But she should have been tweeting about the Houston flood disaster

She posted to Instagram, "When I screw up - say something unconsidered, comment on the 'wrong' issue at the 'wrong' time... some are generous. They share knowledge. They give the benefit of the doubt. But it's always shocking how quickly people want to jump to 'look at this fat trash' or 'cancel this mess' or 'bury this bitch'. I naively thought that alt-right bros were the only ones propagating this language but alas no. This is an insane moment in history... Beating each other to a verbal pulp doesn't have to be our primary distraction from politics... They want us divided. Remember that."

ADVERTISEMENT

We are at an incredible historical crossroads, where our primary targets are those within our tribe - not outside it. Look at the marriage equality debate. There's almost been more division and crucifixion within the 'yes' campaign about the 'right' way to support same sex marriage, than there has been between the 'yeses' and the 'nos'.

It seems no one hates Lena Dunham as much as feminists, and this isn't just within the cesspit of viciousness that is Twitter.

Feminist website Madame Noir published, "I really want Lena Dunham to stop representing everything wrong with white feminists," Babe featured, "#NotMyFeminism: Lena Dunham is not our millennial feminist champion," a female writer for Junkee sarcastically wrote, "Oh God, Lena Dunham said a thing again," and Kiri Rupiah took it one step further for the Mail and Guardian, exploring, "The problem with Lena Dunham, white feminism, and the apology industrial complex."

Lena-Dunham-rosacea-feature
Lena Dunham. Image via Instagram.

Jesus.

Dunham is at the centre of a perpetual witch hunt, and it's women with the pitchforks.

*****

This is not just a phenomenon that befalls white women, of course.

Alongside Swift and Dunham, we also found space in our hearts this week to hate English novelist Zadie Smith.

Her crime was telling her daughter that applying makeup is a waste of her time. "Your brother is not going to waste time doing this," she retold at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. “Every day of his life, he will put a shirt on, he’s out the door and he doesn’t give a s— if you waste an hour and a half doing your makeup.”

ADVERTISEMENT

"Ain't nobody's business how long it takes to do our makeup and we sure as hell shouldn't be shamed for using it. Do better, Zadie Smith," one Tweet read.

Megan Reynolds wrote for Jezebel, "There are far more pressing horrors facing women than the tired-ass argument that makeup is a tool of the patriarchy intending to bring us down."

There are entire websites dedicated to hating Blac Chyna, Nicki Minaj, Tyra Banks and any other black woman you can name. The 'I hate Tyra Banks' Facebook group attracts comments from women, accusing her of being "white black traitor", because she had a baby with a white man.

We are very good at hating lots of women, all at once.

*****

If only this was an epidemic that didn't touch Australian shores. But alas, women hate other women here as much as anywhere else.

Constance Hall, writer, author and social media personality, has hate groups dedicated to her with more than 2000 members. Mostly women.

After announcing her separation from her husband earlier this year, she told Perth Nowthat people printed out photos and "stuck them all over Perth saying, 'Vote 1 for Constance to be voted a s- parent'... it gets really, really nasty".

POST CONTINUES BELOW: Why are women being so awful to each other? We discuss on Mamamia Out Loud. 

Within one of the hate groups who have named themselves 'Abdication of Constance Hall', one woman wrote that she sent sexually explicit images of herself to Hall's ex-partner. Women in the group encouraged her, and said they were planning to do the same thing.

ADVERTISEMENT

Just yesterday, a 'mummy blogger' from Perth named The Notorious MUM announced that she was going to stop writing, because she could not handle the constant abuse.

The more we share, it seems, the more we find not to like.

Holly Wainwright wrote last week for Mamamia'The are Mummy Blogger 'hate' groups on Facebook. I hung out in them for three months.' She found that women (who make up an overwhelming majority of these groups) hate you if you're smug and ungrateful. They hate you if you're too fat, and just as much if you're too thin. They hate you for what you feed your children, how you speak to your husband, and how little time you spend cleaning your house. These women believe, Wainwright writes, that it is their right to be "abjectly awful," and if you dare respond, "you're a thin-skinned weakling and shouldn't bloody write on the internet."

It's not just 'mummy bloggers'. We hate Delta Goodrem, although no one is very good at articulating why. 'I hate Delta Goodrem,' has 500 likes on Facebook - again, almost entirely made up of women. "This will make your night lol," Louise writes, tagging her friend Sophie in the group.

*****

Women, who have spent the last century or two advocating for basic human rights, who have been told to march, rise up, lean in, and speak louder, are now being very much instructed to sit down and shut up.

You're too white, or too rich, or too polarising, or too honest, or too manufactured, or too loud-mouthed, or too annoying. 

We are eating our own. But why?

Last weekend statistics were published that 40 per cent of Australian women have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. This research is consistent with findings all over the Western world.

Women are not happy. We are in crisis. And we hate ourselves.

Constance Hall. Image via Instagram.
ADVERTISEMENT

We scroll through Instagram, or turn on the telly, or read a column - and the second anything makes us feel 'bad' about ourselves, we attack.

"You're making me feel bad for not exercising," we reason. "Cry me a river from your million dollar mansion..." we say through gritted teeth, still grappling with the reality that we will likely always rent in a suburb we do not want to live.

She makes us feel bad about how we eat, or what we do for a living, or our imperfect family. It's her fault.

It's not, of course. But similarly to how it's the coffee table's fault when you stub your toe on a bad day, in our minds, it is.

The cruellest person reserves the greatest cruelty for themselves. We are mean, and we think mean thoughts, when we are starkly unhappy.

Spend three minutes on Twitter, and you'll see that some of our most influential feminists litter their feeds with criticism towards other women. Personal, mean, below the belt criticism.

Just as the worst people to journalists on Twitter are other journalists, and the worst people to Lefty advocates and other Lefty advocates, women are spending a great deal of their time on the Internet, attacking other women.

Public discourse - the advent of Twitter and Facebook - was not meant to be about people all over the world throwing shit at each other. It's come to resemble an unruly dinner party, where everyone is throwing food and they don't know why or who at.

I'm not sure who started it, but someone has to put their spoon down first.

Women can argue - they must. There is no problem with a conversation around what women in the public eye do. Feedback that is constructive, helpful and insightful leads to social progress.

But the feminist catch-cry that the personal is political has been misinterpreted to mean the person is political. And they're not. They're just a human being, made of flesh and blood, who is both good and bad, feminist and anti-feminist, Left and Right, progressive and conservative.

Before we type or yell, I wonder if we could consider for a moment why we are so angry.

What about this has upset us - in this very moment?

And maybe once we pause, we'll realise it's time to put down the spoon.

You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here. 

FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???