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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