THE FEMINIST CRITIQUE:
WHY SUPPORTING OTHER GIRLS INVOLVES MORE THAN GIVING PROPS
If you’ve been paying attention to the celebrity gossip mill in the past two weeks, you’ve probably come across Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Lorde talking about feminism. First, Lorde offered her perspective on the messaging and imagery in Selena Gomez’s Come And Get It single, saying:
“I’m a feminist and the theme of her song is, ‘’When you’re ready, come and get it from me.’ I’m sick of women being portrayed this way.”
“I have pretty strong morals and opinions being in pop music, and I can’t help but express those, which I think people appreciate. I mean, I don’t think I say anything that isn’t backed up. “
Lorde, we feel ya. The passive, I’m-a-slave-for-you perpsective is pretty tiring. Gomez’s response?
“That’s not feminism. [Lorde is] not supporting other women. That’s my honest opinion, that’s what I would say to her if I saw her.”
Frankly, Selena’s retort feels like something her publicist told her to say–it’s a remark that’s constructed to defend her choices (Selena didn’t write the song, but she or someone on her team picked it from an offering of ready-made hits) without directly insulting anyone. Whether it came from the mind or just the mouth of Gomez, we’ll probably never know. But what is clear is this: the message feels plain lazy. Why? Support doesn’t always mean praising everything another person does.
If women don’t question each other’s work and offer constructive criticism, then we are shortchanging ourselves. Despite what we’re taught us in grade school, not everyone gets a brownie, gold stars or a prize with every piece of work they do. Sometimes we succeed and get recognition for our work. Sometimes, we miss the mark. And when we do, thoughtful conversation and feedback are the prize, because it’s the thing that helps us do better and go stronger the next time.
So when criticism with context (the kind that’s backed up by facts and developed ideas, not the kind that’s just mean for sport) allows us to take our experience, tweak our work and present something better, it’s a good thing. Oftentimes, this process is more informative and accelerating than the feedback we get when something is well received. (People don’t often offer why or what they like about something–they usually just say “good job” or “I really like it” and leave it at that.) Offering thoughtful criticism helps other women become bigger and bad ass-ier in ways that constant (and sometimes, insincere) atta-girls won’t.
In our book, Lorde’s comments do support Gomez if she’s open to being better–they’re making her think about her song choice and the message she is embodying–something that the team around her (what she may think of as her closest supporters) probably isn’t doing.
In Hollywood and in life, it’s easy to surround yourself with a crew who doesn’t critique. Sure, feathers are never ruffled (and in the pop world, jobs aren’t lost), but the result is stifling.
When criticism is thoughtful and offers solutions, then that’s when you’re getting the best support from others. It’s motivating, growth-inducing and empowering– and it falls right in step with our brand of feminism.