The word “feminist” has a carried a bad rap for years. Women often shy away from the term because they fear it carries negative, radical, and anti-male connotations. Here at BUST we try to promote the positive reality of feminism and what it actually means to be a feminist. However, feminism is once more in the negative spotlight as female celebrities are shying away from the term as well.
In the most recent issue of British Vogue, Beyoncé Knowles was featured on the cover and avoided defining herself as a feminist when asked. In her response, she states:
“That word [feminist] can be very extreme…But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman…I do believe in equality and that we have a way to go and it’s something that’s pushed aside and something that we have been condition to accept…But I’m happily married. I love my husband.”
Beyoncé is far from the first female celebrity to shy away from the term ‘feminist.’ Katy Perry stated last year while receiving an award for Billboard Woman of the Year, “I am not a feminist…but I do believe in the strength of women.” And as Lady Gaga stated, “I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men.”
However, whether Beyoncé defines herself as a feminist or not, she is a feminist role model for many women around the world. As Maureen O’Connor of NY Magazine notes, Beyoncé’s own documentary promoted a message of feminism. As Beyoncé states in her film:
“Women have to work much harder to make it in this world. It really pisses me of that women don’t get the same opportunities as men do, or money for that matter. Because let’s face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define our values and to define what’s sexy and what’s feminine and all that’s bullshit. At the end of the day, it’s not about equal rights, it’s about how we think. We have to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves.”
Beyoncé’s avoidance of the big F-word makes me wonder what her definition of feminism is that is so scary and frightening? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and the “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” Isn’t this exactly what Beyoncé promotes through her life and work? And, if the word “feminist” is so scary, why doesn’t Beyoncé transform it and make it her own? How much power does this word really have, and why is it so scary?
Images via: People