Guys, we really need to stop fabricating feuds between successful women.
I’m going to say it one more time because I don’t think they heard us: Stop fabricating feuds between successful women.
It’s harmful, backwards and just plain boring at this point.
Nicki Minaj, despite being an outspoken feminist and collaborating with modern icon Beyonce on a track featuring the literal definition of feminism courtesy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is constantly accused of feuding with every other female rapper in the game. Katy Perry can perform on the single most watched program in America alongside Missy Elliot and people will find a way to report that the one dancer in the polka dot bikini is a sly-dig at Taylor Swift. Last year Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita N’yongo couldn’t simply exist in the running for the same Oscar before tabloids went to town on all the hypothetical ways they were planning on hurting each other. These are two ladies who have honed their craft for years only to be subjected to coverage that sounds more like high school bathroom gossip than real news.
Like it or not, these are powerful women. These are successful women. They are influential and wealthy and young women all around the world look up to them- so what are we telling these girls when we reduce their icons to catty feuds and petty disagreements? We are lying to them. We are telling them that not even women who have slaved away for every penny they have are free from the competition among women inherent in a male-dominated industry.
The biggest lie that young women in any industry are told is that there is not enough success to go around. It is the most blatant, most offensive, bold-faced falsehood that girls are fed from a young age. And it’s not even relevant anymore. It’s time for that lie to die already. Along with the idea that we’re not complete without a man and the idiotic stereotype that women aren’t funny. I’m sure Amy Poehler cries herself to sleep every night over the trolls who call her ugly and un-funny, occasionally wiping a tear away with her massive NBC Parks and Recreation check.
Nicki and Katy and Taylor are not competing against each other. They are competing against everyone. And the numbers show that they have won. Katy Perry performed at the Superbowl Halftime- not Kanye or JT or any other big name male performer. In the scramble to not publicize their accomplishments, the media perpetuates harmful, negative stereotypes. How many times have you heard that women cannot be friends with other women? That, no matter our accomplishments and social status, that we will devolve into in-fighting and competition when it comes to things like money, jobs and men. Young women are told that so often and so aggressively that the real message these famous women are spreading get covered up: There is enough success for the taking, enough jobs, enough money- and the men are unimportant.
Even worse, the concept of “feuding” has become shorthand for “whining” and used to minimize important social and cultural issues- especially when they involve women. Earlier this week Iggy Azalea called out pizza delivery chain Papa Johns for allowing an employee to release her personal contact information. Instead of sparking a discussion on celebrity privacy or ethics, the media instead jumped on the story and declared that the Australian rapper was “feuding” with the corporation.
Feuding is, by definition, a frivolous, drawn-out quarrel. Regardless of your opinions of their work, these women are performers. Even the most contrived, packaged pop requires hours of studio time, weeks of physically demanding rehearsals, costume fittings and public appearances. To suggest that these women have any spare time to sit and plot a sly-dig during a massive performance or agonize over the proper amount of shade for an instagram caption is not only offensive- it’s incredibly unrealistic.
These performers have spent the better part of their twenties building massive empires complete with fragrance tie-ins and limited edition shoe lines. So why is it that we only hear about bad blood that may not even exist?
Seriously, stop fabricating feuds between successful women.