I read a post last week by another blogger that really bothered me. She was basically saying that female travel bloggers aren’t “real” travel writers because we inject too much of our personal story and feelings into pieces about travel. How dare we call ourselves travel writers as people like Mark Twain and Ryszard Kapuscinski had. To be fair I don’t think any of us really compare ourselves to the greats, but it definitely gives us something to aspire to and if you ask me both Mark Twain and Ryszard Kapuscinski injected a lot of personal wisdom and self reflection into their travel writing, arguably one the of the things that make them so great. But that’s not why I am still thinking of this blog post almost a week later. Here is the issue, lately I’ve been seeing a lot of women putting other women down and judging them. I mean even the US presidential election has been a shock to me. Hillary Clinton is likely the most qualified candidate to ever run for office in history… ever. And yet the polls between her and a racist, sexist, reality TV star are so close. Is this some cruel joke?
Let’s be honest with ourselves the feminist fight isn’t over, and let me clarify here. I’m not talking about burning bras and marching through the streets. A feminist is someone who believes in equality between sexes. I wouldn’t date a guy who didn’t refer to himself as a feminist the same way I wouldn’t date someone who didn’t believe in LGBT rights. We still have a long way to go. Catcalling and street harassment is still a daily occurrence for a lot of women, equal pay for equal work in even the most developed countries is still not a thing.
I had a conversation the other day with a guy who was taking Krav Maga classes and decided to stop because it made him see everyone walking down the street at night or in an isolated area as a potential threat. I laughed and remarked “welcome to what it feels like to be a woman.” Every time we have to walk home alone in the dark, or walk through a quiet park or go for a run early in the morning we are always aware of our surroundings and feel the same way. If I have to walk home alone I night I always walk with my keys between my fingers, this isn’t being paranoid. This is just the world we live in. Hey, even in broad daylight with all of the street harassment that happens around us, we never feel as though we are truly safe. The thing is, we are all in this together. Every woman. And men need to be part of the conversation too. So why is it that I find myself reading articles where women decide they need to put other women down to lift themselves up? This idea that women have to be in constant competition with each other in order to succeed is crazy. What we need to be doing is lifting each other up and creating more positions of women in leadership once we reach the top.
Let me introduce you to an interesting concept and I’m sure some of you have heard of this before but I think we truly need to start living it. It’s called Shine Theory. The idea is that surrounding yourself with successful women shouldn’t make you jealous, it should make you happy and more successful. As women we’ve been taught to view each other as competition, competition for jobs, beauty, men, that one space on a team that a women is allowed to occupy. I say it’s time to change the rules. As far as men go, as hard as it is, if he’s left you for another woman, he’s no longer your problem. Count your blessings and move on. It’s not a reflection on you. It’s a reflection on him and don’t blame her, in the end it was his choice not hers, she doesn’t know you or owe you anything. It’s hard not to compare yourself but I promise this will lead to nothing but unhappiness and self loathing. On the flip side, treat others how you would want to be treated. My mom taught me this when I was 2 years old. It’s been something I’ve tried to live by since. It doesn’t always work out that way but I only have control over my own actions, not anyone else’s. Beauty, I think we are all beautiful in our own ways. I don’t like fat shaming or skinny shaming (Yes this exists, and it’s not okay either). In fact making any comment about someone’s body that is unkind in anyway, is probably not the best course of action. Live and let live. If you choose to work out 7 days a week, good for you girl, if you don’t that’s fine too, it’s your body, it’s your health and it’s your choice. The only one who should make you change that is yourself if you are unhappy with the way you look or your health is at risk. The choice is personal and frankly it’s nobody elses business so let’s all just but out and keep our negative opinions to ourselves.
Careers, and this is the big one. We are living in a time where we get to make a choice, do we want to stay at home or do we want to have a career, feminism isn’t about forcing every woman who wants to stay home and raise her family to go out and work. If you want to be a stay at home mom that is an amazing and selfless choice and if you have the resources to do it then do it. This is a big misconception about feminism. Feminism is choice. You have the choice and whatever you choose, no one should make you feel bad about that. There should be room for more than one woman at the top but it has to start with us. Instead of knocking each other down out of fear, let’s use our platform and positions of power and privilege to lift up those who are less privileged.
I am so grateful to know so many smart, amazing, beautiful and kind women from so many different areas in my life and their passion and energy inspires me. This is why I post #WCW posts, in the hopes that these women and their stories will inspire you too. I don’t feel threatened by them and you shouldn’t either. Their presence in my life enriches it, it makes me shine brighter, it doesn’t dim my light. The point of this article is let’s stop shaming other women for living their lives on their own terms, whatever those terms may be. Let’s take the time to support each other, lift each other up, and make more room at the top for all of us. Because until we have more women in positions of leadership, we will not see any real change.