‘We will move forward when we recognise how resilient and striking the women around us are.’ Rupi Kaur
It may be overtly obvious by now, in our climate, to state what feminism is, what it strives for, why we strive for it. In the simplest terms, it is a march towards equality, in law, in employment, and in social relations. And this is going to be achieved in every corner of the world. However, there is one aspect of feminism that often gets overlooked- not only is it equality between the sexes, it is equality between fellow women. It is the eradication of competition within our ranks. In getting rid of the need to please men to get where we want to be, we are also getting rid of the need to compete with women to get where we want to be. We are putting an end to the silent rule that in life we must be in competition with women.
Although you may disagree that this is the case, maybe you simply haven’t noticed how often girls and women are set up against each other, for no reason other than male attention or gratitude. How often, ladies, have you felt threatened by another girl for a boy’s attention? How often have you felt you have to compete with every girl around you in order to make sure your boyfriend is loyal? How often have you felt inferior because this one girl has something you don’t, whether it be a toned tummy or long legs or a small waist?
All of a sudden, you will realise something. These girls are not your competition. They are individuals, living their own life, experiencing the same objectification, the same judgements, going through the same self-depreciation, probably experiencing very similar emotions to you. We are all in this together. We all understand.
It’s like when you imagine the women’s toilets of a club. All of a sudden, you stop dancing, you put your drink down, you go to the toilet with your girls and there are other girls in there, also re-doing their make-up, checking themselves in the mirror, changing tampons, shouting if anyone has a spare tampon, calling for someone to pass them some loo roll, and usually, girls actually go into toilet cubicles together. In this little room of a club, women are all on the same playing field. We all understand each other. How many times have you had such a bond with a stranger in a toilet in a club, woken up the next day and thought how great your brief chat was? How many times have you seen a girl upset in a toilet and just thought, or maybe even said to her, babe, I get you, it’s going to be ok. He isn’t worth you.
We need to understand that feminism is still an on-going fight because for centuries women have not always stood together. Whether consciously or not, women have a history of judging women. In my opinion, it all stems down to the low self-esteem women have been taught to have. Modesty has been engrained on our skin, because over confidence isn’t a ‘womanly’ trait, and this low self-esteem has led to women competing with each other in order to feel better in themselves. This is not the answer. We need to be confident in our bodies, in our minds, in our place in this society, whilst we stand next to all these fellow women, saluting each other, paying each other the respect we all know we deserve. As Meghan Markle has said, we need to stop fighting each other for a seat at the table, and start demanding for a bigger table.
The Women’s Network is hosting a ‘Galentines’ event, on the 12th February in the Students Union from 5pm till 7pm, and it is precisely for this cause. It is a way we would like to unite fellow women in Bristol university, whether single or in a relationship, to come together in this fight for a bigger table.
Events Manager of Women’s Network Bristol SU