Feminism vs Female Empowerment vs Feminist Exemplification
In the past years this thread of labeling anything that’s female positive as feminist has really skyrocketed and it bothers me greatly. Great female representation and female empowerment does not make a thing feminist. Something that illustrates, explains or describes a feminist value or point of view does not make that thing feminist.
What defines something as sexist or empowering or feminist is the context and the message or objective that it wants to convey.
There are men in the industry who are progressive and works towards equality by hiring more women, and actively trying to give us better female representation. There are women who direct women in films about women and who try to maintain a crew or team of mostly women. In both cases, none of this makes their project or them feminists.
The majority of the entertainment industry responds and caters to The Male Gaze – it does so even if there are no men operatively involved in the project, because 99.9% of people in the industry do not make art, they are here to make money.
And although it is based on what we commonly call artistic careers, that does not mean that there is a really artistic background or objective in the things being made – it’s purely commercial in a vast majority. The ultimate goal of the entertainment industry is to sell. Therefore, much of this “art” is not progressive, thought-provoking or subversive in any way, specially if the person in charge believes that this could cost them money. The main objective is to market to the consumers and they do so at the expense of everything - this includes quality, values, points of view, consciousness and self-awareness. And this is when two very interesting things happen: Faux Feminism & Female Exploitation.
Female Exploitation is when the person in charge believes that what sells is quiet, beautiful and sensual women – this is the main thing, and the character’s story is secondary (so much that most end up being just eye candy or as a manic pixie dream girl). In this case they think of subversive and thought-provoking as something that can harm their income. So the actresses talent and creativity doesn’t really matter, as long as they’re pretty and sell.
Faux Feminism is when the person in charge believes that the money is in the feminist pov and they make films that could pass as feminist and with strong female characters that follow closely and/or represent the political climate and feminist discourse of today – but that does not make the product feminist, mainly because in most cases they do this in the most superficial way for a monetary gain. Keep in mind, in this cases they don’t explicitally use the word feminism in attachment to whatever their selling, but it’s very obvious.
And sometimes is neither of these, but instead Casual Feminism - when
something could represent, stand for feminism but that wasn’t the
intention at all. Feminists saw it and were like HECK YEAH.
Is feminist a project in which mostly or only women participate? Is feminist a project where the main roles are 99% female? Is feminist a project that addresses sexism? Is feminist a project that’s inclusive? Is feminist a project with independent and empowered women? Is feminist a project that criticizes the way in which society treats women? The answer to all this is NO.
What defines whether something is feminist or not, is first and foremost if whether its exhibitors/creators are feminists or if it was written to represent/stand for feminism explicitly and consciously. If I wear a shirt that says I am feminist, that does not make me feminist. Being a fan of Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Emma Watson or any other feminist does not make me a feminist. Reading one feminist book does not make me feminist (it’s the start, if so I decide). I’m just wearing something, following a person, consuming a product. And many artistic products are attributed the term feminist when they are not in the slightest. If you assume that it is feminist because it exemplifies feminism or is potentially empowering for women, that does not make it feminist. Talking about self-love, girl power, sorority and sexism does not make you a feminist - it makes you self-aware of your rights, strengths and weaknesses and that is excellent and encouraged, but it does not make you feminist.
Why? Because Feminism is a philosophical, social, political, economic and artistic current. What makes a feminist person a feminist, above all, is that they identify themselves as such, with all the awareness of what feminism is because they have studied it or are constantly studying it or have the intention of studying it.
We can long and dream for a feminist awakening in the entertainment industry, but precisely because of that we should not label just anything as sfeminist, because labeling something or someone as feminist when it is not is a disrespect to the person or product and misleading; and it is harmful to the people and products that are feminist and that are mostly ignored, criticized, received in a negative way and usually overshadowed by pseudo-feminist products with better marketing, plus it only helps to preserve the misinformation and misunderstanding of what feminism is and superficializes it. Not to mention it can perpetuate some misconceptions.
Something or someone not being feminist does not mean it is sexist and there IS feminism in the entertainment industry, but very little and it usually suffers from detractors from the industry itself; so what we find mostly is female empowerment, in an initial and often diluted facet.
So no, we can’t call it feminist but we can call it empowering since many women feel that spark of strength, they feel identified and reflected accurately, maybe they even feel understood - and that is something very valuable. We can also use them as an exemplification of feminism, there are many artistic projects that are not feminist but serve to explain, illustrate or describe a feminist point of view because they showed it excellently.
Let’s see some examples of what I’m talking about:
Mean Girls is a great example of a feminist movie. It represents and portrays feminist points of view and feminist values consciously and with the intention and awareness of doing it directly from a feminist stand. It has the feminist label very big and very visibly. It was written by a feminist (Tina Fey), inspired on the novel of another feminist (Rosalind Wiseman). The director is not a feminist, as far as we know, but that doesn’t take away from its value as a feminist piece of work in any manner.
Legally Blonde is another great example of a feminist film. The writers, Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith are both feminists, Kirsten notably being a Riot Grrrl. It is based on a novel written by a feminist (Amanda Brown). And just as Mean Girls, it represents and portrays feminist points of view and feminist values consciously and with the intention and awareness of doing it directly from a feminist stand. It has the feminist label very big and very visibly. Also, it is very female empowering.
Now let’s talk Harley Quinn, because is a very interesting one.
First, let’s talk about her in the comics. She wasn’t created by feminists. She isn’t coded as feminist. She is not written as a feminist character. She is not female empowering for most of her story. Nor she or her story are an exemplification of feminism. The character is not meant to represent or embody feminism in any way. So is she a feminist character? No.
Now, in the movie Birds of Prey. Again, she wasn’t created by feminists. Was the script written by a woman? Yes, but not a feminist woman. Is the movie directed by a woman? Yes, but again, not a feminist woman – the director even said in an interview that she didn’t want to “sound too much like a diehard bra-burning feminist”. The film had an all women crew. Again, Harley isn’t coded as feminist - she is not written as a feminist. The character is not meant to represent or embody feminism in any way. BUT is it female empowering? HELL YES. And the movie as a whole is a great exemplification of feminism, this is another quote from the director: “a harlequin’s role is to serve, they’re nothing without a master and so the movie is about Harley Quinn becoming her own master. And not just Harley, but the Birds of Prey as well. All these women go through something and they’re all trying to break free from their own chains”. So is the movie feminist? No, and so are not it’s characters. But we can and should embrace and celebrate Harley Quinn from a feminist point of view.
Is Hermione Granger a feminist character? No. But she is female empowering and an exemplification of feminism. The actress who plays her, Emma Watson, is a feminist but that doesn’t magically makes all the characters she portrays feminists or well written female characters.
On the other hand, Lisa Simpson IS a feminist. Is the voice-actress a feminist? I don’t know. Are the creators feminists? I dont know either - but it doesn’t matter because Lisa is a feminist and she is explicitly portrayed and written as such, she voices feminism and is meant to embody and represent a feminist (even if it’s an 8 year old one) – and she does so very well if I might add.
So stop calling everything “feminist” and stop telling people that if they believe in equality they are inherently feminists even if they dont want to use that label themselves, stop this specially towards people (I’ve seen this in comment sectons). In my experience, there are three types of women who refuse the feminist label:
1) The Closeted Feminist: a woman that’s not afraid to speak up about their opinions but doesn’t describe themselves or their povs with the word feminism even though their arguments and discourse has a feminist stand that is based on feminist theory to the point where it’s obvious this person has immersed themselves in feminist books, podcasts, films, documentaries, etc – this could be because labeling oneself as a feminist is dangerous. Either in their house, or in the society they’re a part of – and with this I mean that it could actually lead to abuse or active persecution. Not everyone has the same freedom, background and opportunity you do.
2) The Double Agent: they say they don’t need feminism and they don’t believe in it but they still stand for equality and justice. Usually this person doesn’t really understand what feminism is because they have never cared to learn about it and yet they go round commenting on feminist blogs about “how feminists are wrong” – this person believes the patriarchy’s version of what feminism is. This person is aware of the injustice and inbalance but thinks feminism is sexism towards men, hatred of men and that is used for women as a women-victimizing campaign to get pity points and advantages. This are the people that said Taylor Swift played the victim for 13 years.
3) The Free Woman: she doesn’t believe in feminism, she probably voices hate towards feminism and feminists and thinks very low of them because “she doesn’t need feminism” because she loves the men in her life and has “never suffered sexism” first hand so it doesn’t exist. The Free Woman and the Patriarchal Feminist have in common that they feel feminism victimizes women and is sexism towards men. The difference is one thinks inequality is a myth and the other one knows it’s still a thing.
If ya’ll read all of this KUDOS TO YOU and THANK YOU. I’ve been thinking about this for almost a year and it took me a long time and effort to write this and put my thoughts into words cause I’m really bad at expressing myself and lack communication skills. I’d like to write too about the difference between Feminist Icon – Feminist Woman – Iconic Women, just because I’m tired of that mess too.
“Be a lady they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Your pants are too tight. Don’t show so much skin. Don’t show your thighs. Don’t show your breasts. Don’t show your midriff. Don’t show your cleavage. Don’t show your underwear. Don’t show your shoulders. Cover up. Leave something to the imagination. Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down. Don’t wear those sweatpants; you look like you’ve let yourself go.
Be a lady they said. Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs. Skip dessert. You need to lose weight. Fit into that dress. Go on a diet. Watch what you eat. Eat celery. Chew gum. Drink lots of water. You have to fit into those jeans. God, you look like a skeleton. Why don’t you just eat? You look emaciated. You look sick. Eat a burger. Men like women with some meat on their bones. Be small. Be light. Be little. Be petite. Be feminine. Be a size zero. Be a double zero. Be nothing. Be less than nothing.
Be a lady they said. Remove your body hair. Shave your legs. Shave your armpits. Shave your bikini line. Wax your face. Wax your arms. Wax your eyebrows. Get rid of your mustache. Bleach this. Bleach that. Lighten your skin. Tan your skin. Eradicate your scars. Cover your stretch marks. Tighten your abs. Plump your lips. Botox your wrinkles. Lift your face. Tuck your tummy. Thin your thighs. Tone your calves. Perk up your boobs. Look natural. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be confident. You’re trying too hard. You look overdone. Men don’t like girls who try too hard.
Be a lady they said. Wear makeup. Prime your face. Conceal your blemishes. Contour your nose. Highlight your cheekbones. Line your lids. Fill in your brows. Lengthen your lashes. Color your lips. Powder, blush, bronze, highlight. Your hair is too short. Your hair is too long. Your ends are split. Highlight your hair. Your roots are showing. Dye your hair. Not blue, that looks unnatural. You’re going grey. You look so old. Look young. Look youthful. Look ageless. Don’t get old. Women don’t get old. Old is ugly. Men don’t like ugly.
Be a lady they said. Save yourself. Be pure. Be virginal. Don’t talk about sex. Don’t flirt. Don’t be a skank. Don’t be a whore. Don’t sleep around. Don’t lose your dignity. Don’t have sex with too many men. Don’t give yourself away. Men don’t like sluts. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be so up tight. Have a little fun. Smile more. Pleasure men. Be experienced. Be sexual. Be innocent. Be dirty. Be virginal. Be sexy. Be the cool girl. Don’t be like the other girls.
Be a lady they said. Don’t talk to loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain. Be pleasing. Don’t complain. Let him down easy. Boost his ego. Make him fall for you. Men want what they can’t have. Don’t give yourself away. Make him work for it. Men love the chase. Fold his clothes. Cook his dinner. Keep him happy. That’s a woman’s job. You’ll make a good wife some day. Take his last name. You hyphenated your name? Crazy feminist. Give him children. You don’t want children? You will some day. You’ll change your mind.
Be a lady they said. Don’t get raped. Protect yourself. Don’t drink too much. Don’t walk alone. Don’t go out too late. Don’t dress like that. Don’t show too much. Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave your drink. Have a buddy. Walk where it is well lit. Stay in the safe neighborhoods. Tell someone where you’re going. Bring pepper spray. Buy a rape whistle. Hold your keys like a weapon. Take a self-defense course. Check your trunk. Lock your doors. Don’t go out alone. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t bat your eyelashes. Don’t look easy. Don’t attract attention. Don’t work late. Don’t crack dirty jokes. Don’t smile at strangers. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.
Also Pro-Lifers: will go and gather out side abortions clinics then proceed to rush patients getting out of their cars, while also entering clinics and refusing to leave all while having no masks or any virus protection of any kind.
Y’all are hypocrites. You are just further proving it isn’t about life for you. It’s about control.
What if by you not wearing any type of virus protection you end up getting a pregnant person sick? What if then they have to be brought to the hospital? What if by being in the hospital it worsens? What if by it worsening it affects their pregnancy in a negative way?
You only care about pushing your own agenda. You are manipulative, egotistical, self righteous propagandists who don’t care about anyone but yourselves and pushing your beliefs onto others.
If anyone is going to “hell” as you say it’s not going to be the person that decides to get an abortion, it’s going to be you.
You are the worst kind of people. You are vile. You are evil. You are pathetic. You are monsters.
everything men hate about patriarchy is the fault of men. it is not the job of feminists or any woman to protect men from other men when we need to spend our efforts to protect ourselves. men, if you feel boxed in by masculinity or fear male violence, stand up for yourselves or form groups to fight against it. women are allowed to center ourselves in our own liberation movement.
Anway I know people emphasize the importance of creativity in regard to womanhood. The creativity typically being “childbirth”, and while that’s fine for women who value childbirth at such a high level, I think it’s a dangerous blanket statement for all of us.
And if a woman’s worth has to be measured by her “creation”, then it’s important to redefine what that means.
It’s important to note that the epitome of creation for women is NOT childbirth, or bringing a human being into the world. Again on a personal level that’s perfectly fine if you are a woman and believe that, but just on a blanket statement level, it’s not inclusive.
Most of us a) don’t want that or b) can’t do that, or a combination of both.
For that reason, I think we should really focus on what else women can offer? Change the perception of what womanhood and creation are. Artists, activists, writers, etc, going with the context of this post, I think a woman is one who puts her mark in the world, no matter how “little” it may be. And if that “mark” on the world is your existence, then all the better.
I think we typically give creatives who are men the visibility, while still tying women to traditional roles of what creation is. I would really like to see that change.
Tl;dr: Creation regarding womanhood has often been tied to childbirth, however, women can offer more than that, and thus should be measured by their other talents (art, writing, acedemia, existence).
Also this post is for women and women only, and is trans woman inclusive.
Today I woke up to the news that a girl from my school was murdered. I was speechless. I always thought that the news of girls disappearances and murders were something foreign, something that would never happen to me or to the people I know. But oh I was wrong. Her murder wasn’t because she was “exposed” or “wearing short skirts” she was shot in her car after driving one of her friends home. She wasn’t doing anything. And it wasn’t her fault. We need to stop blaming us and other women for the irrational uneducated people who think that women belong to the kitchen. In the beginning I admit I wasn’t part of the feminist movement, because I though “why do I fight, if nothing is going to change?, There’s no justice for any women murdered. ‘My president’ cares more about the lottery tickets for the presidential airplane than all the feminicides”. But then the case of Fatima, Ingrid and thousands of more women and girls were public. And I couldn’t believe the monsters that did that existed and even worse, they stayed unaffected. So I started to believe and be part of the movement, and I’m not gonna lie, its been a roller coaster of emotions. Today was the day that I decided a was not going to tolerate any rejection, discrimination or violence anymore, that I don’t want to be scared anytime I leave my home or my school. Today I call all the women, girls and anyone who wants equality. We need to stop this. We are the only one who can stop this. We are being repressed for speaking out, but not anymore. It our time to choose.
Men do realize that the whole point of feminism is to help women right? It’s not that we think you don’t have any problems ever, it’s that we’re working to fix ours and their problems have no place in that.
I really hate the pressure put on women to be sexually available and open at all times … and I didn’t even realize how overwhelming this was until I started seeing people today critizing women for having any sexual boundaries at all… a guy made a post complaining that his girlfriend wasn’t open to trying kinks and, instead of people telling him to respect his girlfriend’s boundaries, he got loads of replies telling him how to “encourage his girlfriend to have a open mind” and “everyone is kinky she just doesn’t know it yet”… and just in general how girls having any type of sexual boundary is seen as a flaw and how even other women will put each other down over “not being woman enough to handle [sex act/kink/whatever]”… and I know so many women who have told me stories about trying sex acts they absolutely hated and it physically hurt them at times, but they wanted to seem like a “cool girl” so they put up with it anyway…
It’s horrific and it’s hurting people. And I know these things probably happen to men as well, so I’m not trying to claim this as a women-only issue. In the end, just respect other people’s boundaries.
On March 9 there’s going to be a “Paro Nacional de Mujeres” in Mexico, which calls for every girl and women to NOT attend school or go to work. Why? You may wonder. Well, it’s with the purpose to call the attention of the (incompetent) government and the misoginist society to see how it would be a day Without women. Because the numbers of feminicides keep increasing, because the number of rapes, kidnappings and aggression towards women/girls keep increasing.
We tried to manifest peacefully. They made fun of us and weren’t heard.
We manifest in a more radical way by painting walls and monuments. They called us feminazis and still nothing was made to change our situation.
It’s really sad that we have to make this kind of thing to be heard by the government that’s supposed to keep, as a priority, the security of the people, and in this past few days it was shown that the President really doesn’t care about the murder of hundreds of women.
Basta de feminicidio, basta de violencia, basta de violaciones, basta de discriminación, basta de ofensas, basta de dolor, basta de piropos asquerosos, basta de mirarnos como un objeto, basta de PATRIARCADO y machitos opresores, basta, basta.
Este 8 de marzo luchemos y no celebremos. Por ti, por mí y por las que ya no están.
So, as you may know, there’s a lot of violence lately. Not only in my country, but in the whole world. The worst thing of all is that the main objective and most prone to be victim of violence are women.
Now, here in Mexico, a lot of girls have been going missing lately. The number of missing women is increasing at a horrible speed. And we, mexican women, are tired of it. We’re tired of being scared of going out and not knowing if we’ll make it back home or not. We’re tired of not knowing if our mom, our sister, our daughter, our friend is ok. We’re tired of our government and the lack of attention they’re giving to this hell of a problem.
Since no one listens to us, we’re gonna make ourselves be heard. On March 9th, women wont go out anywhere: students won’t go to school, moms won’t go shopping, female workers won’t go to work. But why? Because we want to prove our government just how important we are and that they have to listen to us, we’re dying.
However, I know this may not concern many of you since you guys don’t live on Mexico, but you can help!
Wear something, anything, purple (since that’s the color of the movement). Show your support on social media.
This isn’t a Mexico matter only. This happens everywhere around the globe.
It doesn’t matter how you identify as, you can help us. Please, we’re begging you.
Since no one wants to listen, help us be heard.
That’s the spanish poster, if you guys would like the english version or have any doubts please send asks since I’m more than happy to let you guys know about this.