By Julia Naidoo
Jessica Lindsay recently wrote an article that challenges the idea all womxn must like each other, and to dislike another womxn is ‘anti-feminist.’ Lindsay makes the point that she dislikes most people, regardless of gender, and her not liking another womxn would be because of that womxn as a person. This article has inspired the question: should feminists like all womxn?
Feminism is a touchy subject for me. There are some who think that defining yourself as a feminist shouldn’t be followed by the addition, “but not that kind of feminist.” The reality is that feminism is divided and perceived differently by almost everyone. On the spectrum of feminism, one can range from radical to passive and it seems to me the more impassioned feminist might feel that all womxn should get along.
There’s no doubt that there should be solidarity in any cause, but how realistic is it to expect all womxn to like each other? Personally, I feel that feminism allows womxn to be individuals with independent thoughts and opinions. As individuals, we are all different in some way and our opinions, values and interests often vary or contradict completely. By saying all womxn should get along, it is suggested that something as broad and complex as gender makes us think in the same way. We are reduced to our gender and our individualities are not acknowledged.
I would make the argument that expecting all womxn to get along is sexist, because it implies that we are most importantly defined by gender. It makes gender your most relevant feature, which contradicts feminist movements that push for womxn to be seen for their merit and personality. Counter arguments make the point that you cannot stand for womxn’s rights if you don’t like womxn. This over-simplifies the complexity of human relationships, as I can dislike you and respect you at the same time. I might not want to have brunch with you, but I stand up for your rights as a human being.
Not all feminists share the same opinion on feminism. For example, some feminists believe that all cis-gender men are inherently sexist. I would consider myself to be a feminist because I believe people should be treated equally and that there should not be an expected way to perform gender. I do not, however, believe that all cis-gender men are sexist because this assumption itself is sexist towards men. Sexist feminism is hypocritical and it puts feminism’s integrity into question.
If I don’t like you, it will be because of your personality. The same goes for if I like you — if we are to truly see all people as equal, gender shouldn’t contribute to why we choose our friends. Feminism doesn’t have a handbook with rules for how we should all act and think. Feminism gives us the freedom to say that we have our own thoughts, that we disagree, and that we don’t all have to be friends to support each other.