Every so often, a female celebrity makes headlines for speaking on the subject of feminism. Those who declare themselves as feminists are, more often than not, celebrated. Women who express a disassociation with the term “feminist” typically receive immediate backlash, the majority of which comes from other women. It is odd that empowered and famous women would not consider themselves feminists, especially when identifying as a feminist simply means that you seek the equality of all genders, including women. What's even more strange is that in certain instances, these same celebrities are passionate advocates for female equality. Let’s take a closer look with a case study.
This August, Sarah Jessica Parker gave an interview to Marie Claire where she reiterated on a topic she has long been outspoken about - equal pay for women. But she follows the comment with the surprising statement that she is not a feminist.
"I don’t think I qualify. I believe in women and I believe in equality, but I think there is so much that needs to be done that I don’t even want to separate it anymore. I’m so tired of separation. I just want people to be treated equally.”
She explains the difference between her and a feminist by saying she’s “tired of separation,” referencing the uninformed yet somehow widespread idea that a feminist doesn’t want women to be equal to men, but to win over them instead. Parker relates the term “feminist” to an older yet somehow still relevant idea of a bra burning, man hating, always-complaining woman.
Another such case is Kim Kardashian. Many see her nude selfies as body positive, especially as she has well documented her pregnancy and post pregnancy body struggles. Others would say the opposite, such as Piers Morgan, who also clearly subscribes to a narrow and confining idea of a feminist. Morgan shamed her for being cheap and a discredit to respectable women because of her scandalous posts, because, after all, if a woman is not modest and serious, she cannot be taken seriously.
Kim Kardashian fired back that true feminism was doing whatever the hell she wanted and taking back her body, triumphing in the Internet’s eyes. So it was a bit surprising when she wrote on her website that she “doesn’t need to be defined by those beliefs.” Essentially, Kim won the battle with Morgan, but lost the war in that she subscribed right back to those same ideas she rightfully told Morgan off for.
Both Kim Kardashian and Sarah Jessica Parker are, indeed, feminists. It’s about time we shed the old roots of feminism (which are understandable considering the more intense context in which they grew) so that we can bring the narrative up to speed.
The term “New Feminism” is defined as the belief of complementarity between man and woman, not man over woman or woman over man. Among its basic principles is the acknowledgment of the essential biological differences between males and females, while advocating the socioeconomic equality of both.
New Feminism allows the affirmation of what makes women unique and valuable, without penalizing them for those differences. The idea offers a middle ground where women do not need to subscribe to imitating models of men in order to affirm themselves. Men and women are inherently different, and those differences should be considered, but not held as the standard for treatment. Under this new understanding and within this new space, we can discuss and pursue true equality. Such as, should men have any less of a role or opportunity to nurture their family? Is a woman who puts her career before her family any less of a woman than a homemaker? Does a nude selfie symbolize self-empowerment or self-objectification? Any and all topics should be up for discussion and avenues of choice, not judgment.
Cover Image by Jodeci Zimmerman