One thing that both conservative and liberal feminists agree on is that they shouldn’t have to support women who are ideological opposites of them. After all, men don’t randomly support a man with opposite political views simply because he’s a man. Women are not just an ideologically identical interest group.

We’ve seen within the past year that “being a woman” is not a good enough political platform. Logically, ideology matters for voters too. Conservative women largely refused to support Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Liberal feminist Twitter dubbed GA-06’s Karen Handel and her victory as a loss for women. That’s the thing. An overarching “loss for women” doesn’t, and shouldn’t, exist. Not all women think the same way or have the same beliefs. The suffragettes fought for our right to vote and for each of us to express our unique political views.

One of my biggest political pet peeves is the assumption that all women should think the same way, which is, many times, unassumingly perpetrated by the Left. For instance, pro-life groups were banned from the Women’s March, which effectively discouraged a good number of conservative women from participating. When women reject modern feminist ideals – such as the most recent Miss USA – they apparently “hate themselves” or are just “uneducated.”

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Politics isn’t a warm and fuzzy game. There will be disagreements. Feelings and egos are often bruised. This doesn’t, and shouldn’t, exclude disagreements between women. While I adhere to the idea that women should support women, I don’t think that rule of thumb applies to the political stage the same way that it does to society at large. If you disagree with a female candidate’s policies, there is no reason that you have to cast a vote for her just because you’re the same gender.

It is possible to support women in politics at-large without supporting female ideological conformity. 

For women in politics no matter their ideology, personal attacks are typically reduced to comments on their appearance. As women, we can unite to say that attacks like those are wrong even if we don’t agree with the ideology of the woman in question. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and I have a lot of political differences, but I acknowledge that comments on her appearance were not only wrong but unproductive. At that point, ideology doesn’t matter. There are some issues bigger than political and policy debate.

There have been numerous examples of vicious attacks on conservative women, not just for their politics but for their appearances and even intelligence. If other women don’t think the exact way you do, it doesn’t mean they’re stupid. Politics are shaped by personal experiences, family background and different perspectives. It’s not as simple as one person is inherently evil and another is inherently good. It’s also not fair to express outrage over Hillary Clinton’s appearance being ridiculed, but laugh when a journalist writes that Kellyanne Conway has a lack of conditioner.”

There’s a difference between not supporting a woman’s politics and not supporting women. Not supporting a woman’s politics is literally just politics. Men in politics disagree all the time, and we don’t talk about it like it’s the end of the world. Encouraging comments on a woman’s appearance or irrelevant personal topics is completely different. It is entirely possible to disagree with a woman’s beliefs and ideology without insulting her body or brains. That’s feminism.

Karly M.
Karly Matthews is a student at Temple University, where she is majoring in political science and journalism while minoring in Spanish. At any given moment, Karly can be found talking about Marco Rubio and advocating for conservative values with a large coffee mug and color-coded planner in hand.

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