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”

Pop Goes the Revolution

Thirty-five isn’t what I would call old, but it’s old enough. It’s old enough to remember a time when daily doses of feminism were only found when sought out. To get a regular fix of Girl Power, you needed Bust or Bitch or Ms. Magazine on your nightstand, Ani or TLC in your discman (what’s up, 90s!), and Thelma & Louise on a constant loop in your DVD player.

What a revelation to look around nowadays and find that feminism is Everywhere. On TV, in the movies, in comic books (!!), music videos, and spilling from the pens of former CW stars. The Lady Movement has gone Pop.

But don’t let that fool you. It doesn’t mean we’ve won. On the contrary, the message of each and every one of these women is (in essence) that feminism is still needed. Sexism still thrives, male privilege still exists, and there is still a lot of work to be done.

All the same, I have to say… Seeing so many of us fighting the good fight? Feels pretty f*cking good. Here’s a sampling of delights to fuel your feminist fancies:

MUSIC VIDEOS
Colbie Caillat – 
Try
I’d heard her name but never her music. Time to give her a listen.

Jenny Lewis – Just One of the Guys
So much to love in this gender bending song and dance. Special props to Annie’s faux-break dancing, for making me bust a gut.

TELEVISION
Viola Davis speaks
to seizing a role in television, where female characters are almost always more dynamic than their silver screen counterparts.

“I have gotten so many wonderful film roles,” she acknowledged. “I’ve gotten so many where I haven’t been the show — I’ve been invited to fabulous parties to hold up the wall. I wanted to be the show –  to have a character that took me out of my comfort zone, and that happened to be on a Shonda Rhimes show. So I did the only sensible thing and took it.”

Orange is the New Black got **12 Emmy Nominations** because it’s one of the greatest shows ever!! Laverne Cox is the first trans actress to be nominated for an Emmy!! So Stoked to see these ladies on the red carpet, struttin’ their stuff.

OITNB

(Let’s hope the TV Academy gets their sh*t together next year for Tatiana Maslany and Orphan Black.)

COMICS
Um, the new THOR is a WOMAN.
As if that isn’t enough, the series writer Jason Aaron drives home the fact that this new character is no spin-off, sidekick, watered-down version of Man Thor: 

“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

Get it, Marvel!

STARLET SMARTS
Leighton Meester
isn’t the first person who springs to mind when thinking of feminist actresses. A lot of you may not even know who she is. Before today, I mostly knew her as Blair Waldorf (aka, she of the enviable wardrobe) on Gossip Girl. After today, I will know her as the actress who wrote that kick-ass piece for the Huffington Post about playing the character of Curly’s Wife in Of Mice and Men.

starlet feminists

 

Emma Watson has stated her feminist views before. Now she’s following in the Jolie’s footsteps by working for the UN. Emma “Hermione Granger” Watson will be joining the gender-equality branch, focusing on work with the HeForShe Campaign. Of this new adventure, Ms. Watson states:

“Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting.”

Our little witch is all grown!

COMMERCIALS
Some of you will nay-say this to rooms of your own and back, but I Like What Pantene Is Doing. #NotSorry.

 

There you have it, renaissance women! Not only is our revolution being televised, it is Everywhere. And because no pop culture feminist blog post is complete without her:

sparkle bey

#SashaFierce