I’m a feminist. I’ve declared myself such since the first time I heard the true definition of the term and had that “duh” moment. Of course I’m a feminist. I believe that, as a woman, I should have the same rights as a man. I believe a person should not be discriminated against based on sex or gender. I believe that I’m capable of doing anything that someone of the opposite sex can do, and believe that fact should be recognized. I believe in equal rights for all people. It’s not really such a radical position.
I recently read some articles discussing young women today and their views about feminism. It seems young women are backing away from the term. Katy Perry was recently named woman of the year at Billboard’s Women in Music awards and graciously accepted; showing herself to be a strong, capable, talented woman, all while denouncing feminism in the same breath. It kills me that any woman today would make a statement saying “I’m not a feminist, but…” and then complete that statement with the most basic tenants of the feminist movement. That woman is just displaying her ignorance about the true meaning of the term. I feel it should be important to know the definition of something before disparaging it based on stereotypes alone. This was one more example in a long line of missed opportunities for a woman who has the attention of the public to take even a tiny step toward actually debunking this stereotype, rather than perpetuating it.
Another article I read supposes that younger women today are afraid of social media stereotypes and don’t want to be seen as “fat, ugly, uptight, annoying, man-hating killjoys.” Sure, I mean…who would? But I don’t feel that shying away from the word “feminist” does anyone justice. If every young, talented, smart, sexy woman in the spotlight continues to publicly deny being a feminist, it leads to the supposition that those left to fall into the feminist bucket are the “fat, ugly, uptight, annoying, man-hating killjoys.” And the stereotype flourishes…
When I was younger, even I thought I had to wear my feminism on my sleeve, by purposely staying away from dressing in anything remotely sexy, or using makeup, or doing anything that could be considered (or misconstrued as) objectifying myself. As I’ve aged, I’ve realized that I can care about my appearance, I can show a little (or sometimes more than a little) cleavage. I can enjoy feeling sexy, and appreciate that feeling that comes from the attention of the opposite sex. I can be funny and clever about these issues and can appreciate relationships with men in my life. All this…and I can still feel that women deserve equality, and feel compelled to point that fact out when it’s questioned. In other words, I can be a non-fat, non-ugly, non-uptight, non-annoying, non-man hating killjoy, and still be a feminist.
Too often, when I bring an issue up in regular conversation touching on the fact that women are indeed human beings equal to men, or when I point out inherent misogyny in someone’s blasé remark, I get eye rolls…like “there goes the feminist again.” Please, can we stop acting like these are the most crazy ideas we’ve ever heard? Yes, there are many, many facets to the feminist movement; some are more radical than others, and not as easy for everyone to recognize or understand. But let’s not allow that to overshadow the basic tenets that are most important, and that women have been talking about since the Age of Enlightenment, when context was first given to the fact that the sexes weren’t treated equally…the very first “duh” moment for many women, I’m sure.
Back to Katy…she can continue to live her life however she sees fit, thanks to the efforts of the feminists of generations past. She can wear all the bizarre clothes she wants to, churn out music that I find particularly silly and annoying, and continue to sell self-branded perfume, makeup, and false eyelashes that I will never buy. But, if she truly does believe in the strength of women, including her own, then she’s in my camp—and whether she admits it or not, she is a feminist. She, along with many other women, just needs to learn how to own it.