Oxymoron of the day: Females declaring themselves NOT feminists.
Perhaps famous, bogusly wealthy women do not claim to be feminists because they no longer are. They have long since gained the capital to let rest their worries about supporting themselves, and have retired the undoubtedly feministic attributes that built their ladders to fame. In fields where women have established themselves as worthy of both recognition and support, women need not proclaim themselves feminists. Some women of note who have denounced their feminism: Taylor Swift. Katy Perry. Melissa Leo (of all people!). Carla Bruni.
“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.” - Taylor Swift in interview with Ramin Sedooteh for The Daily Beast
“I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.” - Katy Perry in her acceptance speech for Billboard’s "Woman of the Year” Award
“I have never personally felt the need to be a feminist activist… I imagine I am [a feminist] if feminism means claiming one’s freedom. But I am not if it means being committed in an active way to the fight that some women are still leading today… I admire their bravery a lot, but I have chosen to commit myself elsewhere.” - Carla Bruni in an interview with Elle France
“I don’t think of myself as a feminist at all…as soon as we start labeling and categorizing ourselves and others, that’s going to shut down the world. I would never say that.” - Melissa Leo in an interview with Salon’s Andrew O'Hehir
Well, it’s been some time since all of these quotes were published, so let’s not waste another moment in disbelief. First, these are not average women, as their wealth and fame damn near override the setbacks of their non-male gender status. Second, need these women be feminists in the first place? Mechanically, what is the advantage? After all, no one is making the argument that women cannot sing, that women cannot act, that women cannot be models or play house with French presidents. For these successful women, the way has been both paved and well-trod. The only criticism they might face has more to do with their public persona or talents, but these things most probably would not be attributed to their being women.
Guess what? Regardless of who you are or what you do (or did) for a living, if you are living as a woman and value your own life, you’d be a fucking fool not to call yourself a feminist. Perhaps these women are not attuned to the micro/macroaggressions of men, but it’s more likely that they’re paying a professionally-large man to buffer them from that kind of fucking nonsense. This cannot always be the case for wealthy famous women, of course. Perhaps the delineation is made based on how you make your millions.
Declarations of feminism are useful for public figures exploring new realms. It is an appropriate, attention-grabbing act of aggression. AGGRESSION: both women and men have this capacity, but women ascribe to constructs in which their aggression, and subsequently their ambition & taste for justice, is repressed. When we think of unabashed feminists, we often think of comediennes Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Every day these women work hard to disprove the notion that women are not funny (or at least not as funny as men). They are comfortable trumpeting their feminism, and do so wittily and consistently. They use their notoriety and constant public exposure to ply the public with reminders that equality has yet to be achieved
Women like Poehler and Fey continue to raise awareness because they themselves are still living and working in the face of unfounded bias. These women are challenged by adversity and overcome: using whatever means necessary to debunk the ludicrous epithets that oppress us. This ruthlessness is testament to their talents. This tough-as-nails brand of confidence is something every woman could use. To their own credit and to the credit of the women they inspire, the bias against women in comedy is slowly beginning to fade. For women both topics of tabloids and not, a declaration of feminism doubles as an acknowledgement that yes, as women we face adversity in our professions and personal lives simply due to the gender we identify with, but we will continue weightlifting/overseeing the department/getting paid to make people laugh not despite, but because we are women. Because we can.
Alright now, I’ve proposed above a potential reason why a woman of Katy Perry fame might not identify as a feminist, but I still am stumped as to why this would need to be a public concession. As a public figure whose success is drawn from your fan’s affection, promotion & monetary investment in whatever it is you’re selling, you’ve got a responsibility to them in return. Melissa Leo, declaring yourself a feminism does indeed perpetuate categorization and labeling, but the categories have already been made and the labels are used to facilitate navigation of oppressive reality! Feminism is a movement characterized by efforts to close the disparate experiences of opportunity across genders. We must use language to describe the current state of things if ever we hope to move forward. Carla Bruni, you may not be out rallying for gender equity or doing photospreads for BUST magazine, but for someone of your fame, supporting feminism is most important when you are asked because everything you say is PRINTED IN THE FUCKING PAPER. It’s so easy…just verbally express your support.
A message to all y'all famous(ly shy feministic) ladies: Your sistas from otha mistas are suffering because unlike you, they lack the funds to isolate and protect themselves from the oppression of men and machismotic women. Women of fame, GIVE THANKS to your lady admirers and CHECK your male admirers all in one go: make a declaration of feminism today. Write something encouraging. Support our cause, don’t abandon it just because you got drunk off your own power and decided it’s easier to bag a fella if you ascribe to traditional relationship constructs (I bet he only wants to fuck you from behind).
Great strides are made not despite being women, but because we women are increasingly owning up to our ability, both individual and collective. Stopping, or even slowing down? A luxury we cannot yet afford.