With song titles like “Miss Independent,” pop star Kelly Clarkson would seem to most like a feminist. But she doesn’t see it that way. In conversation with TIME’s Belinda Luscombe, Clarkson stated the word feminist is “too strong. I think when people hear feminist, it’s like, ‘Get out of my way, I don’t need anyone.’” She goes on to explain, “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 … but I’ve worked really hard since I was 19, when I first auditioned for Idol.”
I find this confusing. Throughout the entire portion of the discussion wherein Feminism isn’t mentioned, Clarkson’s words read like those of an all-star feminist. She expresses her admiration for lady role-model Reba McEntire, and she defends her right to display her sexuality only when it’s on her terms: “People in the industry have tried douche moves with me, but of course they’re going to, because they make money when girls do that.”
So why does she say she’s not a feminist? For starters, her definition of feminism is antiquated and grossly simplified. Feminism is about equality between the sexes; it is an open discussion about what that means. It doesn’t mean women “don’t need anyone;” rather, it’s about how we, as women and as human beings, need one another. Everyone, male or female, has the right to “[be] taken care of,” to feel safe. Everyone has the right to be “a leader.” The desire to feel protected and the urge to protect are both human urges; they aren’t specific to any gender over another.
I adore Kelly, but her words here are ignorant and damaging. Feminism is going through an exciting period of rebuilding, and to hear the movement oversimplified and mischaracterized at such a crucial time is disheartening. Hopefully, Clarkson will realize the error in her judgement of the movement and reconsider her identity as a feminist.
Thanks to TIME
Image via FanPop