The sad truth is that this shaming happens a lot. It happens through eye rolling, gossiping, yelling, and blaming. It happens when a woman discounts the experience or opinion of another woman. It happens when we let things like age, gender identity, sexuality, race, socio economic status, or relationship status influence our determination of another woman’s worth. With that, I have two challenges for myself today. I am challenging myself first, and this one will be hard for me, to pause before I get snippy and examine the real reasons why I’m being so critical. My second challenge is to relate to the women around me in a way that builds them up rather than breaks them down. This probably won’t mean that I’ll wander around smiley and chipper and spouting compliments. It’s just going to mean that I will have mindful contributions and discussions, demonstrating that I appreciate what others are bringing to the table.
WE SHAME OTHER WOMEN FOR THEIR CHOICE OF BIRTH CONTROL
In addition to being shamed for their views on sex, women are also shamed for their birth control. Women who expect their insurance to pay for birth control are called leeches and told they want everything for free, or they’re advised to keep their legs closed. The same demand is used when the subject of abortion comes up – that if we keep our legs closed and don’t have sex until marriage, we won’t get pregnant with a baby we don’t want. Women tell other women who are pro-choice that they hope those women die – but there’s shaming on the other side of that coin, as well. Women on each side make snap judgments about the other side.
WE SHAME WOMEN WHEN THEY ARE ABUSED
Why didn’t you leave? Why did you stay with him? Why didn’t you defend yourself? What did you say? How do we know you’re not lying? Women shame abused women every day. Sometimes it isn’t overt, but often, it’s loud, proud, and hateful. One need only to look at the comments on any article about Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. She’s lying, she’s a gold digger, he didn’t abuse any of his other girlfriends, she just wants his money, she’s trying to get her name in the spotlight.
WE SHAME EACH OTHER FOR OUR POLITICAL BELIEFS
This comes from all sides, as well. Conservative or Republican women call liberal or Democratic women fembots, feminazis, welfare queens, and any number of other epithets. Liberal or Democratic women refer to conservative or Republican women as brain dead, traitors, and gun nuts. There’s no agreeing to disagree, no acknowledgment that women can make their own choices and those choices are simply different.
MOM-SHAMING IS BECOMING THE NEW TREND
The mom-shaming movement is multifaceted, as well. Mothers are shamed constantly for how they raise their kids, the feelings they share, and the choices they make. Breastfeeding moms are shamed, and moms who breastfeed privately or with a cover chastise mothers who choose to breastfeed in public. Moms who breastfeed and mothers who choose formula are at each other. Women who choose not to have children shame women who do and mothers put down women who don’t want kids.
BUT BODY-SHAMING IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL, TOO
You’re too skinny. You’re too fat. You’re too hairy. You’re too short. You have a muffin top. Your features are masculine. Your breasts are too large. Your ass is too big. If you are thin and proud of your body, then you are told you’re promoting bulimia or anorexia if you share photos of yourself. If you are overweight, proud of your body, and share pictures, you’re promoting obesity.
WOMEN TELL OTHER WOMEN WHAT THEY SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT WEAR
In the same vein, we put other women down for what they wear, regardless of size. Admittedly, however, you often see curvier women shamed for wearing shorts, crop tops, bikinis, and close-fitting dresses. Thin women are shamed for what they wear, as well, and let’s don’t get started on the subjects of tattoos, body modifications, and hairstyles.
WE SHAME OTHER WOMEN WHEN THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL
She must have slept her way to the top, we say, or we don’t listen to each other’s experiences in certain professional sectors. Sometimes jealousy plays a part – often, in fact – and sometimes it’s simply hard to see someone else succeed when you don’t feel right with your own life and choices.