“No, I wouldn’t say feminist — that’s too strong. I think when people hear feminist, it’s like, ‘Get out of my way, I don’t need anyone.’ I love that I’m being taken care of and I have a man that’s a leader. I’m not a feminist in that sense.”
-Kelly Clarkson, Time Magazine interview, October 2013
I was 24 when I read that interview and I can remember the heat snaking up my neck and burning into my cheeks. I was furious. What was she saying?! Time Magazine has the worlds largest circulation for a weekly magazine, with over 3.8 million subscribers, not to mention non-subscribed readers. How irresponsible of her to speak so carelessly on a topic that was already burdened by a soiled reputation.
I can respect that being a public figure could be tough – you can’t always say the right thing, no one is perfect. But this movement away from being labelled a feminist that seems to be spreading like wildfire throughout pop culture is, quite frankly, alarming.
Sarah Jessica Parker, Lana Del Ray and Selma Hayek are just a handful of the celebrities that have been quoted speaking on the issues of feminism, and getting it’s meaning completely incorrect. Posed the question, “Are you a feminist?”, respond by saying “No,” and then follow that up with a few sentences on why they aren’t a feminist, but still believe that the sexes are equal.
All these largely wonderful and influential women need is the first five minutes of an Intro to Feminism course in post-secondary, or, more realistically, a quick google search to understand the simple truth:
The bare-bones explanation of what feminism is, as defined by Websters dictionary is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”
That’s it. Nowhere in that definition does it say that being a feminist means we believe men are evil, that we all must burn our bras, or that we must choose a side- housewife or feminist!- and stick with it. It is a simple, unoffensive theory that has gotten warped into a radical ideology that women everywhere are balking at, reluctant to be labelled as a “feminist”.
There are two things I hope you to learn from this post:
First, that if you identify as traditional, feminine and/or conventional, it does not mean you can’t also identify as feminist.
I am the first to admit that I love “taking care” of my man. I like cooking for him, I like doing his laundry and making his lunch. I think of household jobs as being labelled as “blue” jobs (shoveling the snow, putting together furniture) and “pink” jobs (organizing the pantry). But you know what? If I wasn’t in a partnership I could damn well shovel my own walk and put together my own Ikea dresser. These jobs aren’t absolutes, they are just what, generally speaking, comes naturally to most couples. Lots of men love to cook, and many women are extremely handy – nothing is black and white, and the gender roles should be looked at as interchangeable, not unequivocal.
You can be a housewife or a stay-at-home mom and still be a feminist. All this means is that it is acknowledged and respected that you are doing a job, an important job, and you are equally critically to the equation of your partnership.
Secondly, we must recognize that the word “same” does not mean “equal”.
Feminism is not making the claim that women and men are the exact same. The argument is obvious: there are physical limitations on some females that suggest that they are not able to properly do the same job as a man. The reality, however, is that both men and women come in all different shapes and sizes. Would a smaller-stature man do better in the army as a larger-framed woman? No.
I also personally believe that as a general rule, women tend to be a bit more sensitive, and usually are more nurturing and emotional then men. Is this the hard-fast truth for all situations? Absolutely not. Does this mean a woman’s tendency toward sensitivity means that she can’t do an equally as exceptional job as a CEO as a man can? Absolutely not.
No two humans are exactly the same, but all humans should be afforded equal opportunity, respect, rights and privilege. Can all human’s do the job of a CEO? No, of course not, but how an organization comes to the decision as to whether or not a person can fulfill that role should be based on ability, not sex.
You may have encountered me abruptly asking you “Are you a feminist?!” during one of our conversations. The amount of women (approximately 90%) who automatically answered “No!” was what prompted me to write this post. While we have undoubtedly made huge positive changes in terms of the equality of women in the workplace, the number of women who hold the title of CEO is still dismal (4.2%) and the gender pay gap and gross treatment of women in the corporate world are more real than you can imagine.
As always, this comes down to my steadfast belief that women need to stand together, and build each other up, in order to achieve our goals. Together, we are stronger and each of us is capable of whatever we put our mind to, whether that be as a stay-at-home-mom or a CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
This blog is a grossly oversimplified breakdown of an extremely complex issues, but my goal is simply this: the next time someone asks you whether or not you’re a feminist, and you believe you are deserving of equality, answer with a simple “Yes.” No explanation required.