Remember when Amy Schumer hired a rape apologist and said it was no big deal? Or when Jennifer Lawrence disrespected sacred Hawaiian stones because she was just being "quirky?" Remember when Lena Dunham attacked Odell Beckham Jr. for having the audacity to not hit on her at the Met Gala? Remember all the racist jokes Amy Schumer has made (but probably stole)? Remember when Lena Dunham said she "wished" she could have an abortion, making light of an incredibly traumatic procedure? Remember when Amy Schumer kept having sex with an unconscious man, despite his inability to give consent (which, by the way, is classified as rape)? Remember when Lena Dunham took pride in having molested her younger sister?
We can all agree that these are bad things, right?
Then how come every time somebody criticizes these women for the things they've done, instead of being met with agreement, they are met with a resounding chorus of "we need to support women, not tear them down?"
Look, I'm a feminist. I believe in supporting women. But I don't believe in protecting problematic white women.
Saying a woman is doing awful things is not tearing her down. It is holding her accountable for her actions. A woman calling herself a feminist does not make her exempt from also being racist, ableist, transphobic, homophobic, or just plain lousy. Here's the thing: feminism is about more than just supporting women. Especially with the rise of intersectional feminism, it has become an almost all-encompassing social movement for all marginalized groups; not only women. That means feminists must not only work against problems like rape culture, dress codes, and freeing the nipple; they must also be aware of and fight against issues that affect people who are not straight, white, cisgender, and able-bodied.
The problem with responding to problematic feminists with "we need to support all women!" is that instead of being an empowering sentence, it becomes a deflection tactic. It equates legitimate criticisms to needless cruelty and creates the idea that women (especially white women) do not to be held responsible for any oppressive behavior they may exhibit. When you say "we need to support all women," you are saying we should excuse problematic and harmful behavior because... why? Because the problematic person in question happens to be a woman?
Feminism is better than that.
We need to make feminism better than that.
When notable women do problematic things, we need to stop defending them under the guise of "supporting women." We need to stop calling them feminists, and create a better, more inclusive, fully intersectional image of feminism. Problematic women deserve criticism; that way, better people can become the faces of feminism and make the movement less racist, less ableist, less transphobic, less exclusive.
Scrutinizing harmful women isn't a form of cruelty. It is an attempt to make feminism better. And we should all strive for "better."
So no, we don't need to support all women. Not when they've shown that they don't support us.