Katy Perry just changed her mind about feminism. Or maybe she’s been inspired by her UK counterpart Lily Allen, who also has something to say about the word. Or, did Hollywood finally make a Feminist Theory class a requirement? Doubtful, considering Perry’s track record with cultural appropriation, sexual objectification and reinforcement of fetishes. I’m starting to think that feminism is just good for publicity or something...
After Perry became Billboard’s Woman of the Year in 2012, she told the magazine, “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women.” After accruing even more fans, Perry has changed her mind. When Australia’s Today show host Karl Stefanovic asked if she considered herself a feminist, Perry said, “I used to not really understand what that word meant, and now that I do, it just means that I love myself as a female and I also love men.” This comment was also in response to the public's accusation that Perry is just "fluff and bubbles."
Although Perry is an admirable fighter who has sustained her place in pop culture, her comments have a complex impact on the movement that warrants careful consideration. Her embracement of feminism is indicative of the transforming face of feminism and the shedding of its old reputation. As Slate's Amanda Hess points out, this may have been an example less of Perry's own beliefs and more about the feminist "movement's own branding failures." Feminism is moving in a new direction, hopefully away from negative misconceptions (i.e. all feminists are man-hating) t0 where both feminists and potential feminists can learn and grow together in awareness.
Calling yourself a feminist and leading by feminist example are very different, as indicated by numerous celebrities who are claiming the title. Nona Willis Aronowitz, who spent a year asking people across America what feminism means said, "A celebrity’s definition of feminism also seriously varies from that of an educated and experienced feminist. The next step is to get newcomer feminists of status informed about issues and to live by example."
One thing is for sure, Perry embracing feminism will hopefully lead to young fans exploring what feminism means and choosing to educate themselves, not just absorb what Hollywood churns out for them to consume. What do you think? Is pop culture's appropriation of the term a step in the right direction, or does it stear us away from the issues at hand?