What does it mean to be a feminist?

Hello, everybody-

This is my first time writing an article in a very long time. I haven’t contributed to the blog in so long for a couple of reasons. First, I was trying to encourage others to share their stories and opinions on the blog – everybody has heard about issues from my point of view, and I think it’s time for others to speak up too! Second, I was extremely busy. Between work and school and applying to graduate school, anytime I had free time I was simply too exhausted to do anything but sleep. Third, I simply ran out of things to say. For a while I didn’t feel as though I could articulate my thoughts into a coherent article that people would actually be interested in reading. Now, even though I still don’t feel as though I have the words to express myself, I’m going to try anyways.

The inspiration comes from a little piece of celebrity news combined with my observations in the past couple of months. Pop singer Ke$ha checked herself into rehab for an eating disorder in the beginning of January, saying

“I’m a crusader for being yourself and loving yourself but I’ve found it hard to practice. I’ll be unavailable for the next 30 days, seeking treatment for my eating disorder…to learn to love myself again. Exactly as I am.”

At the same time, she recently collaborated on the song Timber with Pitbull, and the song has reached #1 on both the music video and song sections of iTunes. Pitbull’s lyrics in the song are degrading and ridiculous: the one that always stands out to me most whenever I hear the song on the radio is

“Have them like Miley Cyrus/twerking in their bras and thongs/face down booty up/that’s the way we like them huh”.

Women are even further objectified in the music video, in which Ke$ha and a myriad of backup dancers are filmed close up in daisy dukes for essentially the entire video.

Through music, movies, music videos, tv shows, and all other forms of media, we expect celebrities to be sexual objects, then we’re shocked when they develop an eating disorder or become TOO revealing (think Miley Cyrus and Rihanna).

 It seems that in recent times the sexualization of women has become even more extreme and debated among celebrities and regular women alike – just see Rashida Jones’ article for Glamour magazine.

 I’ve been closely following the feminist movement for a couple of months now and have wanted to write about it, but stopped myself because I don’t know what my own position is.

What does it mean to be a feminist? Does it mean slut-shaming women for using their bodies to sell records and movies, or applauding them for taking charge and being proud of their sexuality? Miley Cyrus recently said she considers herself “one of the biggest feminists in the world because I tell women to not be scared of anything”. Do I agree with that? A lot of arguments have been made for and against her statement, and I don’t know which side I personally stand on.

 

Does being a feminist mean getting angry at Robin Thicke for the song Blurred Lines, or getting mad at society for making it one of the most record-breaking songs of the last decade?

Why isn’t feminism more all encompassing? Why don’t we talk about feminism in relation to race, sexual orientation, politics, religion, or men?

The truth is, I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, and I have been personally debating them for a very long time. After a long period of observation, there are only a few things I feel comfortable asserting:

 While I don’t know how I personally define what feminism is, I know what it is not. To me, feminism should not consist of criticizing other women for their looks, regardless of who they are. Miley Cyrus should be able to wear a spandex bikini-type thing without being called a whore, just as much as Taylor Swift should be able to wear cardigans and sundresses without being called a prude. Hillary Clinton’s outfit choices should make the news just about as often as Barack Obama’s do. We shouldn’t gossip about and make “news” stories on how Ke$ha looks in a swimsuit then act sympathetic two years later when she admits to developing an eating disorder.

 Rather than gossiping on the outward appearances of women, we should be focusing instead on the accomplishments they make and the way they treat people. When we change the conversation, the media will slowly begin to change with us.

What are your thoughts? What does feminism mean to you?

Thank you for taking the time to read about my own boring thoughts, and I hope to hear all of the interesting things you guys have to say : )

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One thought on “What does it mean to be a feminist?

  1. I am only 15 years old but am already a feminist because I believe in equality. I myself have made mistakes in this past and set a bad example of what feminism means and I am still learning what it does really mean but this article is exactly what I mean. Thank you for reassuring me in what I actually think feminism is and getting me back on track :)

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