Hi, my name is Araddhna, and I am a feminist.
Whenever the word ‘feminism’ is used, panic seems to ensue. Recently, Sarah Jessica Parker came under fire after an interview in Marie Claire magazine. Having been asked about feminism, she answered: “I am not a feminist. I don’t think I qualify. I believe in women and I believe in equality, but I think there is so much that needs to be done that I don’t even want to separate it anymore. I’m so tired of separation. I just want people to be treated equally.”
I say what I do next with respect and love for the actor herself. I’ve admired her in many series and films that she’s starred in, from Sex and the City to her short appearance in Glee. However, Sarah Jessica Parker’s opinion on feminism is wrong, and very hugely so.
The Oxford Dictionary definition of ‘feminism’ is, “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of equality of the sexes,” with equality being the operative word. What some people fail to understand is that feminists do not believe women to be the superior gender; we just want everyone to be equal. Many campaigns portray exactly what feminism is; in 2012, Laura Bates launched the Everyday Sexism Project that proved how sexism is still a problem for women worldwide- she did not, however, send death threats to men and speak of superiority. The 2015 This Girl Can campaign by Sport England hopes to encourage women to carry on with sport without fear of embarrassment or looking “unwomanly”- nothing to do with wanting to smash men on the head with a tennis racket. As aforementioned, Feminism has nothing to do with gaining control over men, but more to bring a long-oppressed gender up to the same level as males are as a gender in terms of opportunities at work or otherwise, respect, safety, etc. in the world.
Kim Kardashian is just another popular celebrity who is confused by this term. She recently claimed that she was not a feminist because she “doesn’t like labels.” Yet, with her huge teenage following, it discourages both girls and boys to assert themselves as feminists, purely because her own meaning of the word is misconstrued.
However, certain other celebrities and public figures are grasping the definition of feminism better, and understand exactly what it means to identify as a feminist.
Taylor Swift might not be seen to be winning the very-public feud against Kimye, but she seems to have grasped the concept of feminism, unlike Kim. Back in 2012, when she was still writing country music like Red, she did not believe herself to be a feminist because she didn’t want everything to be “guys versus girls”. However, after her friendship with Lena Dunham blossomed into something beautiful, and clearly mind-changing, she stated in an interview with the Guardian, “As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all.”
Barack Obama, the first sitting President of the United States to ever call himself a feminist, explained why it is important to “work hard and be deliberate about creating equal relationships.” Those who speak about feminism in the public eye, whether they affirm that they are one or shy away from the label, need to recognise the importance of understanding such terms before speaking about it. Taylor Swift has a huge following of young girls who look up to her as a role model. Barack Obama as POTUS is arguable one of the most influential figures in the world. They have understood the actual meaning of feminism, so by talking about it publicly, they are able to influence their fans and following in the right manner. It is because of the huge scope to shape peoples’ viewpoints that celebrities and public figures must talk about feminism responsibly.
Evidently, the most common occurring word in all of these examples is ‘equality’. Whilst there are many who still do not understand the term, let’s hope that there are more people in the world like Matt McGorry, How To Get Away With Murder star, and Emma Watson, #HeForShe campaigner for gender equality, who are able to educate others. We need people like them to help others understand why feminism is important, and, even though it might be a label, Kim, I’d rather be labelled a feminist than anything else. In fact, I welcome that label.
Araddhna Patel is a 3rd year student at the University of Manchester reading Ancient History. She’s fluent in fangirl, an avid reader and writer, a productive procrastinator, a grammar enthusiast, a proud nerd, a Harry Potter aficionado, a lover of sarcasm, and an aspiring something… She’ll let you know what.