Inflate, don't deflate: call it female solidarity, call it Shine Theory, but whatever name you give it, Paula Lyne says us ladies need to big each other up – and she's got some new ways to go about it.
A former aide to the Obama administration recently opened up to the Washington Post about a strategy female White House staffers used to ensure they were heard in meetings during her time there. The idea was simple: when a woman at the table made a valuable point, other women repeated it, making sure to credit the original speaker. The staffers termed it “amplification.”
Considering Obama’s top table was originally two-thirds male, this strategy was not only smart, but essential. Of course, the gender balance has since shifted somewhat, making this kind of female solidarity as important as ever.
“If you’re a woman tearing other women down, you are creating a system which will one day negatively impact you,” says Grace McDermott, one of the founders of Irish blog Women Are Boring, which aims to highlight the brilliant work done by females in the world of academia and beyond. “It is our responsibility as women to stand up for each other, if not for the benefit of others, for the sake of ourselves,” she adds.
So far, Women Are Boring has featured research contributions from females writing about everything from US foreign policy to William Shakespeare. “Our success just proves that there’s a huge portion of women out there who are willing and eager to support the intellectual achievements of other women. It makes me really hopeful,” Grace says.
This positive, proactive female empowerment takes many forms and many names. Uhuh, if you’re in the White House, it’s amplification. But if you’re one of the tribe following Aussie blogger Constance Hall, it’s ‘queening.’
Constance, 32, a mum-of-four and blogger from Perth, has amassed close to half a million followers who champion her for her no-bullshit, no judgement attitude to body image, parenting, sex and more. Recently one fan took to Instagram to share a picture of a crown tattoo she’d had inked in honour of Hall’s ‘all women are queens’ ethos. Within 72 hours, hundreds of other women, including Hall herself, had followed suit.
“Being a Queen is not only a commitment to support the shit out of other Queens but also one to yourself,” Constance wrote in a post showing off her own crown inking. “To recognise your inner rad bitch and never stop loving her.”
Okay, so her expletive-laden writing might not be for everyone, but the message is the same no matter how you put it: women need to love themselves, and love one another too.
“Feminism is having a big boom, but we wanted to create a space that was warm and inviting as well as forward-thinking,” says Polina Bachlakova, managing editor of Danish site Girls Are Awesome, which describes itself as, “a global platform portraying women who live their lives with style and strength.”
Featuring everything from profiles of female pro skateboarders in India to – Polina’s current favourite article on-site – a brief history of the douchebag before it became an insult for annoying bros, Girls Are Awesome is re-defining the new wave feminist platform.
Yes, it’s critically aware and culturally engaging, but it’s also fun, readable and relevant to a younger age group too. “We have two types of reader,” says Polina.
“One is the socially conscious woman in her late 20s or early 30s. The other is 15, 16 or 17 and is still shaping her ideas about the world.”
Gone are the days when being a Mean Girl was the height of cool. Today’s teens have a bit more cop on, or at least they’re getting there. That’s the belief of Helen O’Donoghue of the Irish Museum Of Modern Art.
Last month, Helen co-ordinated the launch of The School For Revolutionary Girls, which saw a group of females aged 14 to 17 working with artist Suzanne Lacy and others to discuss issues like domestic violence, women in politics, personal freedom, and the role played by females in historical events such as the 1916 Rising.
“The girls were really empowered,” says Helen. “It was palpable. There were opportunities for them to find their individual voices but also to discover what they had in common as a group. It was a huge bonding experience.”
Whether you’re 14 or 44, it’s important for us gals to stick together. Perhaps author Ann Friedman put it best with her Shine Theory hypothesis, which she explained in New York magazine back in 2013. “Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison,” she wrote. “It makes you better.” We’ll say cheers to that.
This article first appeared in STELLAR’s November issue. Our March issue is on shelves now!
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