Despite all of the books, websites, and blogs dedicated to redefining the word “feminism”- evidently, there are still many people who associate feminism with the same time-honored stigma that has been attached to the word since women were “burning their bras in the 60s.” Maybe it's time now that people wake up and realize that feminism is not just for raging man-haters- but for women of all shapes and colors who simply want to be treated like first class citizens. Perhaps this awakening should start with the self proclaimed non-feminist celebrities who simply don’t understand feminism.
On May 6th Flavorwire came out with a list of “Non Feminist Celebrities Who Owe Their Careers to Feminism” Some of the names on this list surprised me- especially those of strong women that I had always looked up to as a kid. One big shocker on the list was Madonna. I mean come on! This classic female icon seems to eat sleep and breathe feminist ideals. She owns her own entertainment company god-dammit! And she promoted sexual freedom in her MTV- banned music video for “Justify My Love,” subsequently criticizing MTV for being hypocritical as “male artists were able to show music videos on the channel that contained sexist and violent imagery.” Clearly this is a woman who detests double standards and yearns for gender equality. Still, the artist is guilty of using the classic “I’m a humanist, not a feminist” defense. Madonna, if you are a humanist, which implies that you care for all human beings, wouldn't that also mean that you desire basic human rights for the human that is a feminist. Feminists want human rights for all women. Wouldn't feminism be a subgroup of humanism, then?
Another perpetrator of this cop-out excuse is sadly one of my faves- Sarah Jessica Parker. Flavorwire sums it up perfectly – pointing out the irony in how “the entire message of the show on which Parker built her entire career is that women’s relationships with one another are just as, if not more, important than long-term partnership.” Sex and the City is exalted for its depiction of dynamic, independent, relatable women who have sex (hence the title) without being married. It’s frustrating that a woman who clearly upholds certain feminist ideals can’t just take the leap and call herself a feminist!
The prize for the most unexpected “non-feminist” however, goes to ex-Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor. This is a woman who “went from being a Stanford Law graduate who couldn’t land a single interview on account of her gender to being the country’s first female Supreme Court Justice.” Evidently, this is a woman who dealt with a lot of sexism in her day and had to work twice as hard as any man in order achieve anything. She however, believes she is not a feminist because “she didn’t go march in the streets’ and she’d rather be known as a ‘fair judge and a hard worker.”Again we are confronted by this negative connotation of the word feminism.
Reputable women with the potential to really push the movement forward not only refuse to be associated with feminism but they also belittle it. This is something I like to call “the burning bra complex;” the classic myth of women burning their bras at Woodstock is etched into peoples minds. Rather than associating feminists with everyday women who want social equality, reproduction rights, equal pay, and the ability to walk down the street without being harassed, people often hear “feminist” and automatically think “crazy, radical antidisestablishmentarian, man-hater, lesbian.”
Maybe this misinformed definition of feminism isn’t the fault of the celebrities, but the fault of us already established feminists for not spreading the word more aggressively! It’s our job to help get rid of this stigma and show people that feminism is not an ugly word, but an empowering one!
Photos via Flavorwire