On Shining Women and False Competition

Okay, so I have a few thoughts.

In the past few weeks, we have celebrated International Women’s Day, and the discussion around women, particularly famous women, and their work, activism or general spotlight positions as ‘role models’ has come up over and over again – and the discussion hasn’t gone very well thus far.

I can’t help but find the trend of pitting famous women against each other, especially when these women are trying to do clever, bright and wonderful things, ridiculous in principle. I have heard many conversations, largely held by media outlets or their consumers, who discuss women and instantly place them in opposition, even when they are working towards common goals.

Women, particularly famous women or women with significant access to widespread media attention, are placed in competition with each other at almost every turn – Who wore that outfit better? Whose bikini body is best this summer? Who is winning the most awards this awards season? And now, who is doing the better job of being a feminist or activist or role model?

Placing women against each other is an incredibly large part of what throws their causes or ideas into the shadows. #HeForShe is not about what Emma Watson wore in her latest interview and not every woman behind a microphone has to voice her opinions on the issues she is standing behind in the same way. These women can and should voice their different opinions to strengthen public understanding of what they are talking about. Multiple opinions are a good thing, as is the representation of multiple perspectives on multiple issues. We shouldn’t be throwing these women in opposition with each other because that does nothing to help the causes they are standing for – it makes it harder for them to be heard over the false competition created by the media.

Creating false competition between women and their voices is not ‘cool’ or ‘trendy’ or productive. It is a terrible strategy for ignoring the problems they are standing for – and it needs to stop.


© Hayley New 2016

This piece is intended as a short precursor to a larger piece on Shine Theory, Women and Collaboration. Please feel free to join the discussion in comments.


One thought on “On Shining Women and False Competition

  1. Georgia at Girl Almighty says:

    I completely agree and feel the same frustration, particularly in the ‘who’s the best feminist activist’ part that you mentioned: all the time I see people calling out other women for not being the ‘right’ kind of feminist (*glances over at Demi Lovato for her pop at Taylor Swift*) and yet men get away with saying the most simple statements and all of a sudden they’re “feminist icons” without anywhere near the same kind of backlash a famous woman would have (for example, Tom Hardy saying ‘no’ when asked if he was annoyed at there being women in Mad Max and George R.R. Martin saying ‘women are people’ in an interview).


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