How We Perpetuate the Harmful Cycle of Pitting Women Against Each Other
We all know social media is chock-full of mindless drama that's all about getting likes and clicks. But sometimes, we need to take a breather and ask ourselves: "What are we really playing into here?"
We've been conditioned to believe that women are incapable of achieving greatness without constantly trying to one-up each other. Of course, this couldn't be further from the truth, but it has somehow turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy that we perpetuate ourselves by giving in to these stereotypes and viewing other women as rivals.
And despite this harmful bias being talked about countless times (I mean, people are only now starting to realize that maybe they shouldn't have been so harsh on Britney and Christina), the truth is: it still happens every single day.
It may come as a controversial opinion, but a clear example of this is the relentless online harassment Clara Chia and Hailey Bieber have received in the past couple of months. And while many of us might not be their fans, can we all agree that this has gone way too far? After Bieber started receiving death threats, Selena Gomez decided to speak out and ask her fans to do something that seems so simple, yet so hard for some people: just be kind.
Given the long history of sexism and misogyny in media, it's no wonder women are often judged more harshly than men. Apparently, being "the other woman" is just infinitely more severe than, for instance, sexual harassment allegations and kinda-feels-illegal age gaps that people tend to simply brush off.
The media has created a culture of objectification and devaluation of women, reducing them to their physical appearance or their relationships with men rather than being recognized for their achievements or their talents. With this in mind, it's no surprise that soccer star Piqué isn't getting as much backlash for having cheated on Shakira with Clara Chía, and Justin Bieber hasn't even opened his mouth to defend his wife, Hailey Bieber.
I could go on and on with these recent pop-culture-drama examples, but you get the gist.
Even if a woman isn't tied down to some man, the media will always find a way to come at her for her success and confidence. Take Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, who used to be thick as thieves, with Cardi even looking up to Nicki as an inspiration. But the trolls just couldn't let them be great, always trying to stir up beef between them. Apparently, having two amazingly successful mixed-race female rappers in the game is too much for some people to handle. So, the constant speculation and rumors of diss tracks led to a hot-and-cold relationship between the two, leaving them both constantly on the defensive. And as Nicki finally said…
\u201cOk you guys, let\u2019s focus on positive things only from here on out. We\u2019re all so blessed. I know this stuff is entertaining & funny to a lot of people but I won\u2019t be discussing this nonsense anymore. Thank you for the support & encouragement year after year. Love you. \u2665\ufe0f\u201d— Nicki Minaj (@Nicki Minaj) 1540866536
Shifting the Culture
The age-old problem of pitting women against each other is still rife, fueled by the toxic machismo culture that refuses to let go. It's a pervasive mindset that views women as mere objects to be controlled, conquered, and dominated instead of being treated as equal partners and colleagues. This not only reinforces gender stereotypes but also holds back women's progress in every sphere.
This machista mindset creates a cutthroat environment that makes it tough for women to work together or support each other. Women are constantly battling to prove themselves, and if they show traits typically seen as "masculine," like confidence and assertiveness, they're immediately labeled as a threat. As a result, the false belief that successful women are always in competition with each other persists, preventing them from working towards shared goals.
Even as women, we're not immune to the harmful effects of machismo. We have to keep ourselves in check about the sexist behaviors and biases that we might be unconsciously promoting. It's a constant battle that we owe to ourselves and other women to keep fighting.
Still, a promising culture shift is happening right now where successful women are lifting each other up and fighting tooth and nail against the media's relentless attempts to portray them as rivals or "better than this other girl."
In the reggaetón and urbano genres, many talented Latina singers and rappers are making their way through a male-dominated industry, collaborating and supporting each other's work. Take, for example, Karol G, one of the leading female voices in reggaeton right now, celebrating with, uplifting, and thanking fellow female reggaeton singers Natti Natasha, Tinni Stoessel, Lola Índigo, and Bad Gyal during her most recent album's launch party.
The message is clear: there's no beef here; we're all comadres.
In this age of digital dominance, social media reigns supreme, dictating what we see, how we feel, and what we believe. As we navigate this maze of information, we can make an effort to be mindful of the content we consume and how we react to it.
So, are we merely passive consumers, feeding into the hate that is being perpetuated, or are we switching up the narrative? By refusing to feed into harmful stereotypes and instead focusing on celebrating each other's achievements and talents, we can actively change the conversation and create a more supportive environment for all women. Let's be kind and supportive of each other, both online and in real life.
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