A letter to feminists


Maddie Newingham

Madison Newingham

In light of watching an episode of “The West Wing,” where a few women scolded another woman on the show for being a “stiletto” or “lipstick” feminist, I want to take this space to reorient our movement. 

I have to be honest and blunt: There is absolutely no spectrum of feminism. Feminism can only be the pursuit for unequivocal justice, no matter the extent to which you fight for it.

Regarding what I witnessed in the “The West Wing,” and really with many young millennial women, there was a group of women ganging up on one woman because she, instead of using her voice to advocate for societal problems like the liberty to wear whatever without judgement, was advocating on the economic front. She cited her desire for equal pay and the diminishing of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace.

If you call yourself a feminist, you must not judge another woman for her beliefs, for what she wears and where she spends her energy fighting for women’s rights. That is not feminism, and it is tainting and killing the movement for everyone else.

Feminism is supporting a woman’s freedom to make her own choices because those are the choices she wants to pursue, rather than making those choices on the basis of feeling a societal pressure to behave a certain way.

So, stop attacking women who want to stay at home or have a traditional family.

After all, what is it to you what they want?

Likewise, it is important to support women on the other end — in the workplace, women in managerial and executive leadership and women running for office. It is important to actively change policy so men are held accountable for sexual assault and harassment.

That said, this doesn’t mean you have to support a candidate with which you don’t agree. In reference to the Democratic primary, you are no less a feminist for supporting Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton.

Moreover, the hypocrisy of feminists slut-shaming other women or criticizing others’ appearances is blatant. You don’t have to like what someone wears, but you certainly don’t need to make them feel bad for having a different taste. If you contribute nothing else to feminism, stop judging the makeup women wear, the business or casual clothes they wear and the style of their hair.

Support women. Stop caring about the insignificant things.

Also, don’t push men away from feminism. It will never succeed by expelling anyone from our movement. This is a movement for all of us and is more economically favorable for families. We should not be making people afraid of us or feeling that this is not a movement for them.

Many of my male friends are suddenly terrified of being accused for sexual assault. While we must hold these actions accountable when they occur, we also have to assure men not everything crude is sexual assault, and we have a part to play by relaying what is acceptable given the context of our relationships. If you are a man unsure of what you can say to women, just ask. Given the climate we are experiencing, I will gladly answer your questions.

Do not judge other women fighting for the same cause because they are different than you. The feminist movement, after all, needs to be an inclusive one.

Madison Newingham is a columnist. Contact her at [email protected].