Lately, it seems like feminism is a dirty word. No one wants to be caught dead wearing such an unfashionable brand.
Last week, Salma Hayek received an award in recognition of her work as a women’s rights activist. She took the opportunity to distance herself from feminism, saying: “I am not a feminist. If men were going through the things women are going through today, I would be fighting for them with just as much passion. I believe in equality.”
And Salma is not alone – there are plenty of high-profile women who have come out recently and said that they are not feminists, including Australia’s most senior female politician and Harper’s Bazaar Woman of the Year, Minister Julie Bishop, who said “feminist” is “not a term that I find particularly useful these days” and encouraged women to “stop whinging.”
So why are so many women apparently rejecting feminism?
I think it boils down to seven things.
1. Some people say they’re not feminists. But, they support gender equality.
The curious thing about what Salma Hayek said is not that she said she isn’t a feminist. Salma Hayek can call herself whatever she wants. It’s that what she said – that she believes in and will fight for equality – is feminism.
The definition of feminism is “the advocacy of equal rights and opportunities for women, especially the extension of their activities in social and political life.”
Do you think men and women should be equal? Do you think our genitals shouldn’t determine how much we get paid or whether we can hold senior leadership positions? Then you’re a supporter of feminism.
2. Some people don’t like to be labelled.
That’s cool. No one is forcing a label on anyone. But it doesn’t mean that your actions and beliefs aren’t consistent with feminism. Whether or not you call yourself a feminist, your attitudes and behaviours can be feminist. And if your behaviours are feminist, there’s a good chance we are going to claim you and celebrate you whether you like being called a feminist or not.
3. Some people think that being a feminist means hating men.
But that’s true. In fact, feminism not about how women feel about men at all. It’s about women having a their fair share; women having access to every right and every opportunity enjoyed by men. Feminists are lovers AND fighters. Feminism hates the game, not the player.
4. Some people think feminism is over. It happened already. And we don’t need it anymore.
Some people think that women are already free from discrimination. That we are already equal to men – so feminism is now irrelevant.