I dare you to say it. The F word.
Ok, I’ll go first. I’M A FEMINIST. Odd as it may seem that “feminist” is such a loaded label in 2013, the fact is that there are a lot of misconceptions out there about feminism. Let’s start with Exhibit A, commonly known as Taylor Swift:
“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.”
Woah, nelly. That’s what Taylor said when The Daily Beast asked her if she identifies as a feminist. Now, here’s the thing. I’m not the feminist police. Though I am a feminist personally, it’s fine with me if a woman doesn’t want to identify as a feminist. But the issue here is that Taylor Swift’s idea of feminism is way off. Feminism isn’t about “guys versus girls.” Feminists aren’t by definition man-haters – though people often label them that way. Feminism is about empowering women, and ensuring that women and men receive equal treatment and equal opportunities.
And here’s the other problem: Taylor’s statement that working “as hard as guys” will get women far in life also misses the mark. First, it implies that guys all work really hard and that women need to work to get on their level. I think any woman with life experience knows that’s a load of B.S. And second, women often don’t get as far as men even if they work just as hard, or harder. Because women rarely get paid as much as men, and are often passed over completely for jobs and other opportunities simply because of their sex. So it’s cool with me if Taylor Swift doesn’t consider herself a feminist, but the problem is that what she’s talking about isn’t feminism.
T.Swift isn’t the only celeb who has shied away from the F word. When accepting Billboard’s Woman of the Year Award in 2012, Katy Perry said, “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.”
Again, if Katy Perry doesn’t want to be a feminist? That’s cool with me. But you know what? I think she just might be one. Because she’s a smart, successful, self-made woman, and that in and of itself is quite a feminist feat. Say what you will about her music or her overtly sexual image, but Perry knows what she’s doing. She knows how to turn out hits and keep herself in the public eye, which is what it takes to be hugely successful as a pop star. She’s openly talked about her support for Planned Parenthood, and as she says herself, she believes in the strength of women. I would call that feminism. I doubt she would like it if she were getting paid less than a male artist just because she’s a woman. So why do women like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift shy away from the label?
I think the fact that these successful women don’t want to label themselves feminists shows that there is a lot of power in the nasty stereotypes of feminists that misogynists– or anti-feminists, if you will – like to create. Feminists hate men. Feminists are ugly. Feminists want to control men. Feminists are crazy. You know what? Bull. Shit. Feminists are people who believe in equal rights and opportunities for women. That doesn’t involve taking anything away from anyone else.
So we’re celebrating the celebs who boldly identify as feminists, no matter what people may say about them. These ladies dare to use the F word.
Garnet is a student at Columbia University in New York City. She is “that person” who starts dancing at a party when everyone else is standing around, and if there were a Facebook stalking Olympics, she would be a gold medalist. She also loves cheesy 90s music, and almost died of happiness when Vanilla Ice retweeted her. Once. Follow her on Twitter @garnethenderson.