Feminists come in all forms

Feminists come in all forms

Feminists come in all shapes and sizes. We need a contemporary understanding of feminism that goes beyond burning bras. (Photo courtesy of BrickhouseBrandy via Flickr Creative Commons)

Feminists come in all shapes and sizes. We need a contemporary understanding of feminism that goes beyond burning bras. (Photo courtesy of BrickhouseBrandy via Flickr Creative Commons)

“I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women,” Katy Perry said. Perry’s reluctance to call herself a feminist is not an uncommon phenomenon. Many women tend to shy away from the term “feminist” because of the widespread angry feminist stereotype with which they do not identify.

I used to be one of those people. The term “feminist” made me uneasy, but only because it was a concept I did not accurately understand. It was not until I came to college and began to open my mind to new ideas that I began to realize, to my surprise, that I am a feminist. I believe that young boys should have the option to play with Easy Bake Ovens, and that little girls can play baseball if that is what they enjoy. People of all ages should do what makes them happy – not what gender roles prescribe.

Feminists are not women who refuse to shave their legs or start to burn their bras. (Although, sometimes that doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. What woman doesn’t want to burn her bra after a long day?) Feminists are not even strictly women. Feminists are just people who believe that women and men are equals. That doesn’t sound so scary now, does it? So to believe that feminists practice misandry or try to dominate men is simply inaccurate.

I also used to believe a second common misconception about feminism: Feminism is outdated in the United States. But with life experience, I realized that women still have further to go before they achieve equality. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, women have made 77 cents for every dollar men made from 2007 to 2012. How can we say that our country protects equality?

When I worked in an electronics store, I learned firsthand just how misogynistic the world can be. Men and even some women would walk into the store, take one look at the petite brunette behind the counter, and assume I could not help them. I would ask them if they needed help, but most would scowl and say “no” in some creative hateful way and then ask, “Where’s the man?” Frustrated, I would find my boss hiding in the back of the store and ask him to help the difficult customer. I’m not sure how these customers connected the fact that I have a uterus with incompetence, but somehow to them I was unable to pick out a new cell phone or a watch battery because of my gender.

As frustrating as sexism is, it is even more exasperating when those who consider themselves feminist and are educated about sexism critique women unfairly. Self-proclaimed feminist and actress Zooey Deschanel has received criticism for being “too cute” or “too feminine.” Because being feminine and a feminist can’t be mutually exclusive, right? In order to be a feminist, one must assume a traditionally male persona and aggressively stomp around in a pants suit.

Critics accused Deschanel of acting like a younger girl in order to intrigue men’s fantasies. She dresses too girly for their liking, and tweeting about kittens is just too much for their tastes. Deschanel fired back at the critics in her Glamour interview when she said, “I’m just being myself. There is not an ounce of me that believes any of that crap that they say. We can’t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a f-king feminist and wear a f-king Peter Pan collar. So f-king what?” You rock the Peter Pan collar, Zooey.

No one would ever question the intelligence of a man because he enjoys watching sports or other traditionally masculine activities, so why question a woman’s strength or bravery just because they like baby animals? (By the way, who doesn’t? Who are these soulless people?)

Not only is Deschanel an accomplished actress and musician, she is also the co-founder of one of my favorite websites, hellogigles. Hellogiggles features opinion articles in a wide range of subjects. Yes, some things on the website are as cute as the name suggests, such as the “cute cam” that shows animals from sea lions to corgis. But the site goes deeper than rainbows and glitter; there are also insightful articles on rape culture and an in-depth look at what entertainment culture does to us as a society. Just like Deschanel, hellogiggles has more to offer than apparent at first glance.

New Zealand musician and feminist Lorde may only be seventeen, but she has already developed an opinion on the entertainment industry as well. Recently she gave her opinion on Selena Gomez for her song “Come and Get It.” Lorde said, “I love pop music on a sonic level, but I’m a feminist and the theme of her song ‘Come and Get It,’ is when you’re ready come and get it from me. I’m sick of women being portrayed this way.” The entertainment media spun this comment in a way that made it seem like Lorde picked a girl fight with Gomez (shocker). While I believe that Lorde’s critique of the lyrics of the song is valid, I do not think criticizing Gomez herself is fair.

“Come and Get It” was written by Ester Dean and produced by Stargate for Rihanna’s album “Talk That Talk,” but did not make the cut. Dean and Stargate have produced a few of Rihanna’s tracks such as “What’s My Name,” “S&M,” and “Rude Boy.” Rihanna has been known to cause controversy, and the lyrics of “Come and Get It” fit better with her persona.

Gomez just sang the song that she was told would be a hit. Gomez sends a stronger message to her fans and the world than those lyrics do by lending her celebrity name to help charities when she can as well as serving as an ambassador to UNICEF. She deserves praise for her song “Who Says,” because it sends such a positive message about self-worth. She had the strength to leave her long term boyfriend when he began to spiral out of control. When a fan skipped class to meet Gomez, the first thing she told her was that she needed her schooling.

We can sit here and criticize each other all day for our preferences and the things that make us happy, but the world would be such a better place if we tried to empower each other. Lorde is a lyrical genius and her album “Pure Heroine” is a work of art. Gomez seems down to earth and like she is growing into womanhood just fine. Deschanel is quirky, but she is intelligent and quick to defend herself. Anyone who criticizes Deschanel for not being a true feminist needs to reevaluate his or her beliefs.

Feminists come in all forms. Feminists can be stay at home moms. Feminists can be soccer coaches at the YMCA, or actresses who wear vintage skirts and heavy bangs. They can even be the girl behind the counter at an electronics store.

*The views in this article represent the opinion of the author, and not those of CisternYard News.

Share this:

1 Comment

  1. Christina DAntoni11-15-2013

    What a great opinion piece Ashley! Despite widely accessible information (especially so on a college campus) on the theory and praxis of feminism, some people still cling to these myths of the “f” word. I find myself having to debunk and defend feminism daily, and this article should definitely help do so on a larger scale.

Leave a Reply