Whether it’s cultural appropriation or the meaning behind Kanye West’s “Famous” music video, everything has several meanings in today’s multiplex society. One topic in particular that is multifaceted is feminism. As media icons continue to voice their opinions on the issue, the definition of “feminism” and what it truly means to be a feminist are contested, questioned and ultimately transfigured to fit the state of gender equality and female empowerment today.
Most of the information I get on feminism is derived from celebrities who publicize their takes on this social movement. Yes, I understand that this may not be the most reliable source of knowledge. But in all honesty, it’s helpful to compare my beliefs to those of others in order to decipher what my stances mean and how they come together to form my ultimate opinion on feminism.
If you’re anything like I was before doing my research, you may need a little guidance yourself. It’s hard to tackle an idea that has changed so much and can imply so many things, let alone figure out what aspects of it you do or don’t believe in. No one’s blaming you — it’s pretty heavy stuff. But have no fear, your guide to feminism is here! Here is a celebrity breakdown of the different types of feminists that exist today. Which celebrity speaks to you the most?
When you think of Miley Cyrus, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it her famous foam finger choreography or her barely there performance attire? Either way, Cyrus is no doubt an advocate for free physical expression, even if that expression tends to get a little sensual. The Miley Cyrus-type feminist is one that recognizes equality in the sense that just as men can express themselves in a physical or sexual sense, so can women. In an interview with Elle Magazine Cyrus said, “I think that I’m allowing girls to be really free with their sexuality,” and she later elaborated by saying, “I mean, guy rappers grab their crotch all f–king day and have hoes around them, but no one talks about it. But if I grab my crotch and I have hot model bitches around me, I’m degrading women? I’m a woman — I should be able to have girls around me!” As Lady Gaga once said, do what you want, what you want with your body (wrong artist, but you get the idea).
From “Diva” to “***Flawless” to “Sorry,” Beyoncé’s female-empowering rhetoric has always been undoubtedly present in her music. Her inclusion of Chimamanda Adichie’s speech entitled “We Should All Be Feminists” (a fantastic explanation of feminism at its core) in her 2013 hit track “***Flawless” brought a resurgence of feminism and characterized her as the industry’s leading feminist. While some critics have interpreted her “bow down bitches” attitude as demeaning and antagonistic toward women by creating a sense of pernicious competition, her actual intention is quite the opposite. The Beyoncé-type feminist promotes success and determination amongst women, even if that means deviating from the typical submissiveness attributed to women in order to climb to the top and get your way. This is clear not only in the lyrics of her songs, but in the way she conducts herself as the head of her multimillion dollar empire, as seen in an interview with Elle magazine: “To me, power is making things happen without asking for permission.” This approach to feminism may be a bit daunting, but at the end of the day you just gotta say #IAin’tSorry for being a boss and slaying the game.
At the heart of any feminist movement is gender equality. Employment opportunities, equal pay and workplace conduct are all issues that fall under this umbrella. Emma Watson has become one of the central voices of this generation in the social movement towards gender equality. As a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, not only does Watson ardently fight for the rights of women, but she also encourages men to join the feminist movement, as she heavily emphasizes through the HeForShe campaign, which Watson helped launch in 2014. “I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop … Men — I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too,” Watson said. Her inspiring speech is another great resource for understanding feminism and has forged a plethora of empowering memes and gifs. This approach of establishing systemic equality and integrating feminism within all aspects of society, which closely resembles the quintessential textbook feminist, embodies Emma Watson-type feminism. Believing in equal treatment and ability between men and women is what allows for feminism in any other context, from women dominating a particular industry to women not letting their clothes and physical expression objectify them.