To Feminist or Not To Feminist

Hooray, it’s Friday Feminist Funtimes! Apropos of FFF, the Identifying as a Feminist debate rages on, as does the What Feminism Needs debate, the Feminism is For All debate, and the I’m An Ism You’re An Ism debate. There’s feminist debate fun to be had by all!

Many of you will recall that Emma Watson (#Hermione4Life) recently gave a killer speech at the UN. Initially it received a lot of attention, which is not surprising considering Ms. Watson’s level of celebrity. What was less publicized was the immediate threat that followed, in the form of a website that popped up, featuring a countdown clock and the implication that nude photos of Ms. Watson would be released when it expired.

As mentioned on Lainey Gossip, Ms. Watson’s fierce reaction to this (baseless) threat, her passionate feminism, and her ambitions for the He For She campaign are not sustaining headlines. Odds are far greater that you’ll come across some new form of “OMG She Lost Her Baby Weight!” than updates on the UN’s Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality, even with Hermione as their ambassador.

Sidebar: I mean no offense to Ms. Gran– um, I mean Watson, by ofttimes referring to her as Hermione. On the contrary, having just re-read the HP series (for the third time <– nerd alert), I consider it to be a form of high praise. Should Ms. Watson ever stumble on to the tiny universe of BeautyCoup, I hope she would agree.

Moving on… A breakdown of Hermione’s interview on the Guardian’s website details many of the kick ass things she had to say, and I highly recommend you take a few moments to read it. Immediately following said article, I discovered some thoughts from Roxane Gay about feminism, specifically as it relates to celebrities like Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence embracing the word, ideals, and in Emma’s case, activism.

Fewer of you will be familiar with Roxane Gay. She’s a columnist, an author, and a vocal feminist. I generally like what she has to say, due to the age-old concept of preaching to the choir. But this time around, several things about her article started to make me bristle. Feminism is a movement of inclusion, and her arguments began to sound rather exclusionary. She makes the following points in her article, which I shall address in turn:

  • Celebrity endorsements of feminism are infuriating… Hmm. Disagree. I understand her point that wrapping feminism up in a pretty package to make it more palatable is not ideal. However. Fame is not an aspect of our culture that will ever magically disappear. In this age of information and misinformation, we are more saturated than ever with celebrities – their products, their lives, their children, their relationships, and their causes. How we react to celebrity behavior says a lot about who we are as a society. As I set out to raise my own little rabble-rouser, I would much rather see tons of celebrities (regardless of their appearance, age, or gender) embracing the identity of Feminist. We should not discredit ardent feminists because of how they look. If these young, famous women who meet society’s absurd beauty standards want to use their powers for good, then I say:

amen

  • The rebranding of feminism is not a magical solution… Agree. With a small caveat. Even with the famous pretty faces waving their feminism flags, there are still so many people (so many women!) who are afraid of the word feminist, let alone actually embracing the work of feminism. Again, with all of the information thrown at us on a daily basis, a sharp way of communicating the true meaning and ambitions of feminism isn’t the worst idea.
  • This point I have to quote directly, because it’s the part of Ms. Gay’s article that I struggle with the most:

“This is the real problem feminism faces. Too many people are willfully ignorant about what the word means and what the movement aims to achieve. But when a pretty young woman has something to say about feminism, all of a sudden, that broad ignorance disappears or is set aside because, at last, we have a more tolerable voice proclaiming the very messages feminism has been trying to impart for so damn long.”

To her first point, that too many people are ignorant when it comes to the meaning and movement of feminism: Agree! It’s a huge problem that so many people equate feminist with being anti-man, and the movement of feminism as exclusionary.

To her second point about pretty young women speaking out as feminists: Disagree! Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence and Beyoncé have not eradicated broad ignorance about feminism with their declarations. They are chipping away at that ignorance by speaking out as feminists and, to make my final point, one more quote from Ms. Gay:

“We run into trouble, though, when we celebrate celebrity feminism while avoiding the actual work of feminism.”

Agree. Which is why, when we have someone like Emma Hermione Watson standing up as the face of a United Nations campaign in order to clarify what it means to be a feminist, expose those who might not otherwise hear it to the truths of feminism, and yes, do the actual work of feminism, as far as I see it, that’s something to celebrate.

emma_watson_un

Now I’d like to see this Moment turned into some Serious Action:

beyfeminist

What will it be?? Beyoncé-themed confidence building curriculum for girls in junior high? Beyoncé Love Your Body dance classes?? A Beyoncé Feminism 101 website? I have big dreams, because if anyone can do it, it’s Queen B.

Ps. An FFF Morsel: Julianne Moore stomps on the “mani cam”

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