Are We Supposed to Rank Feminism?

A few months ago, the Chicago Tribune published an op-ed on a woman angered by protests against beauty pageants. The author was a beauty contest winner, and felt the level of fitness needed in competition empowered women. She called the efforts of feminists to dismantle beauty pageants actually detrimental to a united feminist front. The article lead me to question, do we rank feminism? And more importantly, are we supposed to? 

Feminism is on its fourth wave currently. This movement focuses on equality outcomes. With women taking on positions and traits traditionally held by men, it seems feminism is really working.

However, the fight for women to take back equality comes at the cost of support for all women and all lifestyles. Too often, those who work in the home are scorned for not choosing to “have it all” by continuing to keep their careers and have children. Women who get married early are considered less independent. And still the issue of intersectionality remains a defiant division within feminism. 

Just recently, Jameela Jamil, famous for her role on The Good Place, called the Kardashians “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” She called these women toxic executives, who’s power comes wholly from playing double agent for the patriarchy. Jamil argued that these women’s tangible outcomes came at the detriment of other women. Many voices, such as Laura Jane Williams agreed with Jamil, saying that women who only use their sexuality for power are in fact just reenforcing gender norms that pervade inequality.

However, other voices called out Jamil for tearing down women who use their hyper- sexuality as a tool to get ahead. They argued that shaming hyper-sexualized women is “oppressive and limiting” and minimizes a united feminist movement.

When women rank lifestyles of other women, there is a defining of what is feminism. With different waves of feminism come different definitions. Yet, do these waves act to further feministic agenda, or further exclude women from its movement? 

Fourth wave feminism is focused heavily on equality of outcome. It focuses on actions followed by results. The third wave focused on inclusion and pride in individuality. This new wave, so bent on results, often excludes individuals, the antitheses to the third wave. However, with the fourth wave achieving such tangible results—sexual harrassment/assault coming under the magnifying glass, and more women taking on executive positions—is it an effective wave? When we rank feministic lifestyles, we inevitably exclude other women from the movement. This bodes the question, is it more important to support all women even if we don’t agree with their lifestyles? Does this inclusion allow empowerment within female movements? Or are we supposed to focus on tangible results, even if it means calling out lifestyles we find detrimental to women success?

Which has become more important: Women supporting other women, or women achieving tangible results? And which option should be more important?

Is there a way we can do both?