Let’s direct our criticism towards the right rather than each other

I am tired of anybody criticising somebody else who is literally striving for the same goal as them.
Let your fellow feminists thrive and together we will hopefully get further in our fight against all layers of inequality…

I am tired of feminists and equal rights activists criticising each other for tiny things. I am tired of those who criticise somebody else, who is literally striving for the same goal as them.

Sat in the car on a long journey with my family, scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, a Guardian article appeared criticising Jess Glynne. It was criticising her for taking her makeup off in a Brits performance, comparing it to #nomakeup as it apparently echoed other PR plays used by celebrities to seem relatable. I felt exasperated. It was a good message, more powerful than most celebrities performances at these sorts of events so why criticise it? The only reason I can think of is to hop on a current event with a slightly different take for the sake of being a successful journalist. Self confidence, self acceptance and no make up is definitely not the most pressing feminist issue, I completely agree, but it is definitely important. If you believe in its lack of importance why not write an article praising a group or individual who is fighting for a more pressing issue, rather than put down a feminist singer for concentrating on this particular one.

Activist and actress, Jameela Jamil recently announced a partnership with Aerie that included “no retouching” and was “inclusive of everyone”. One look at their photoshoots made me feel impressed, proud and hopeful. I felt empowered by the diverse group of brilliant women featured.
Yet, even this has been criticised. People claimed that that the women in the campaign were not fat enough and therefore the campaign was not inclusive. It included a range of body types, and the company has been praised by plus size individuals for their products being comfortable and fitting well. It has a brilliant message, challenging standards of beauty and depicting real women.

So why did people who are on the left, who also support body positivity, feel the need to criticise it?
They should challenge the millions of advertising campaigns showing women who are only a size 0. They should challenge body image in porn. They should challenge clothing brands that claim that their extremely slim model who just happens to have big boobs is ‘plus size’.
Why criticise something so aligned with your beliefs?

I’m sure that a key reason why we keep criticising each other is because it is easier. It is far less scary to engage with those who are similar to us. However, the left and supporters of equality (me and you) need to start criticising and debating with the racists, homophobes, transphobes, islamophobes, anti-Semites and sexists rather than tearing apart each other. How are we supposed to fight the growing wave of fascism and intolerance if we are critiquing one another for not being good enough feminists and activists?

Everyone is guilty of this. In school I would constantly engage in political debates with my left wing friends which were intense and critical. It may have been good practice for debating with the right. However, since we would be agreeing on everything but a tiny detail, we really should have been uniting our passion into engaging with more opposite views in an attempt to really achieve something.

I am a big supporter of constructive criticism. I think no group, idea or individual will ever improve and grow without it. Constructive criticism was praised by Deborah Frances White in a brilliant recent episode of  ‘The Guilty Feminist’ podcast. She noted that she was aware that if she hadn’t been given such wonderfully constructive criticism for her podcast from the start, it would still be too ‘white and straight’. But this criticism needs to come from a place of helping each other out and helping each other improve in our feminism rather than from a place of negativity.

So please before you criticise somebody with a very similar goal to you, think… is this constructive and helpful? …Is this actually going to make a positive difference? If not then don’t say it. Let your fellow feminists thrive and together we will hopefully get further in our fight against all layers of inequality.

Lilah Hyman