The German Chancellor was a part of a Women’s summit held in Berlin along with other strong ladies. Merkel was placed on a panel to answer questions and of course, the question “Are you a feminist,” came up. Somehow Merkel didn’t see that coming since she took quite some time to pause and ponder her answer. When she finally did answer, it wasn’t what we anticipated. Offering a convoluted response, Merkel said she “is not afraid of it (feminism)” but that she would not want to “adorn herself with those feathers.” Yikes. That was the cringy part of her statement, she tried to make a recovery by saying “To be honest the history of feminism is one with which I have common ground but also differences, and I don't want to embellish myself with a title I don't have,” again not a very good bounce back. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands jumped in with a quick save saying “I just want that all women have freedom of choice and opportunities, that they can grab and be happy and proud of themselves,” to which Merkel latched onto saying “If that is a feminist, I am a feminist.” Still an underwhelming and disappointing response from one of the most important figures in the world.
What makes Merkel’s response so disheartening to feminists everywhere is that we don’t doubt that she’s a feminist at all- but her refusal to “label” herself as one and her tip-toeing around its definition are what give power to the awful stereotypes out there about feminism. The only way to redefine the way people see feminists, in a positive light and not as some man-hating bra burners, is to own the word itself. If someone like Angela Merkel were to say loud and proud “I am a feminist- this is what we look like,” people would be able to see the real definition behind a word surrounded by controversy- Feminism is equality. Merkel had a silver platter opportunity to express that and the platform to reach millions, but she blew her shot by trying too hard to remain neutral. Perhaps next time the question is posed she’ll be ready.
Top photo via Wikimedia Commons
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