Feminism, Pop-Culture | Posted by Christina T on 03/5/2014

Who Are You Calling A Feminist?

Feminism is confronting its “uncool” reputation all over again, but this time it’s the least likely candidates rejecting the movement: women. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift and others have all made statements indicating that they’re less than eager to take up the feminist mantle.

Quirky, trend-setting celebrity Lady Gaga, is a New York pop singer best known for performing in outfits akin to knickers and heels. Her appearance is aggressively sexual and in control, like many a male rock star. She has also attracted attention for her blatant rejection of feminism. In one interview she said: ”I’m not a feminist – I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars.”

Taylor Swift, the ever popular singer/songwriter famous for her girlish, diary-like lyrics, is also hesitant to put the “F” label on herself. Swift told journalists, “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”

Yes, what you’re describing is equality, and equality is what feminism is all about! Except we live in a country where, when you work as hard as guys, you make less money if you’re a woman, or even less if you’re a woman of color.

In 2012, Katy Perry accepted the Woman of the Year award from Billboard, declaring, “I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women.”

One reason Perry and other public figures such as Swift or Gaga may forswear feminism is because feminism is seen as controversial. More charitably, women may worry that the feminist label and its stereotypes prevent people from listening to, and buying into, a feminist message…or, more concretely, their music. Their unwillingness to put a label on equality could be seen as a direct result to save their reputation and million dollar salaries.  But therein lies the problem.  A feminist reputation only reaps negative benefits.

Feminism has long been represented by women, and many still believe the stereotype that the feminist movement is ONLY for women. Untrue! Many men identify themselves as feminists because the movement is centered around gender equality, not just the females. This means political, social, and economic rights for all genders.

Either way, the unwillingness of these celebrities to be called a feminist can be seen as a sign not of feminism’s failures, but of its continuing relevance. It would be better if feminism were more widely accepted, but failing that, the least a movement for radical social change can do is rattle up social norms. Feminism still provokes resistance; it still has enemies and still makes many people in the mainstream nervous.

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  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 4:36 am, March 9th, 2014

    It would be great if more celebrities with visibility embraced feminism, though.

    I tried to dissect Gaga’s attitudes towards feminism a while back… http://starofdavida.blogspot.com/2010/11/lady-gaga-feminist-sexist-both.html

  • Wakita @ at 11:15 pm, March 16th, 2014

    I have yet to fully identify myself with the label of “Feminist” due to some of the same reasons, but as I see more and more ignorance towards the subject at hand, I can’t help to bring myself to lean towards the name. I know, it sounds quite shady on my part, but being a junior in high school, I can’t help but to think of the connotations it brings down on me. I do find this interesting, as I was reading an article on this in a magazine. As I identify more and more with the title, I find myself being happier and happier. It’s just a matter of me fully accepting it.

  • SpongebobBloggerpants @ at 4:09 pm, March 20th, 2014

    My sentiments EXACTLY!! The label, and word, “feminist” has such a bad rap in our society. Even though the stigmatization surrounding it has been repeatedly addressed (to my knowledge) within the last decade, I find it fascinating that female role models and celebrities are hesitant to support feminism.
    “I’m not a feminist – I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars.” This quote made my skin crawl. Feminism is NOT about hating men, contrary to popular belief. Your observation that “equality is what feminism is all about!” is the core of feminism. Thank you for this consciousness-raising article! I really enjoyed reading and appreciate your perspective.

  • Maude @ at 7:39 pm, March 20th, 2014

    Love this ! So true !

  • yourknightinshiningtutu @ at 9:48 pm, March 23rd, 2014

    It seems to me as though these women don’t NOT identify with feminism, to me it seems as though they have no idea what feminism is! All of their quotes actually align with movement! Katy Perry says she believes in the power of women? …feminism. Taylor Swift’s comment on working hard to get what you DESERVE? …feminism. and Lady Gaga is just extremely confused if she thinks that the opposite of a feminist value is loving men? Wrong.
    I don’t believe that these celebrities’ unwillingness to be seen as feminist is a sign of “feminism’s failures,” as you say, if you’re referring to the movement in general, but I believe it may be in the ideologies’ failure in educating the world to what it truly means! I have to admit, I was uneducated in the definition of “feminist” and was likewise hesitant in referring to myself as such until I took a class and learned what the feminist movement actually is. Maybe it is less about the controversiality of the term and more about the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the negative connotations of it!
    So thank you for writing this article! It’s important for us to stay updated with the media and those who essentially “set the agenda” and where they stand on feminism so we can know as a collective what to focus on in terms of spreading our movement! Great article!

  • Careful—We Eat Our Own | My So Tall Life @ at 11:23 pm, March 29th, 2014

    [...] is not the word for what I’ve observed from many of my fellow card-carrying members of the Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word Society, US Chapter. Criticism, in the manner in which I’m using it, implies constructive feedback. [...]

  • Helena @ at 1:25 am, April 2nd, 2014

    I’m not sure about Taylor or Katy, but I do know a lot about Gaga, and I can tell you that she is actually a feminist. That ‘I’m not a feminist’ quote is from years ago, and after learning about feminism, her opinions have changed radically- she is passionate about empowering women, through the things she does and says, and through her music- for instance, her feminist anthem Scheisse.

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