Since the movement’s inception, people have been warring over what it means to be a feminist and stereotypes that portray them as emasculating unattractive lesbian harpies that want to turn the world into a matriarchy. However, it seems like feminists are too distracted to battle misogynists. They’re too busy policing the behavior of women that want to sit at their table .
A few weeks ago, singer Annie Lennox critiqued Beyoncé and her use of feminist imagery during an interview:
I would call that “feminist lite.” L-I-T-E. I’m sorry. It’s tokenistic to me. I mean, I think she’s a phenomenal artist – I just love her performances – but I’d like to sit down (with her). I think I’d like to sit down with quite a few artists and talk to them. I’d like to listen to them; I’d like to hear what they truly think.
I see a lot of it as them taking the word hostage and using it to promote themselves, but I don’t think they necessarily represent wholeheartedly the depths of feminism – no, I don’t. I think for many it’s very convenient and it looks great and it looks radical, but I have some issues with it. I have issues with it. Of course I do. I think it’s a cheap shot. I think what they do with it is cheap and … yeah. What can I tell you? Sex always sell. And there’s nothing wrong with sex selling, but it depends on your audience. If they’re 7-year-old kids, I have issues with it.
As expected, people got mad but Annie kept going.
“I adore Beyoncé. I think she is an incredibly powerful individual. But when it comes to feminism and the activism and the campaigning that so many women have done over the years—and you look at an individual like Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues and who is so dedicated to feminism—I think there’s a contrast there. And I think just because you’re very empowered and you’re sexual on stage that does not necessarily delegate you into the place of being feminist. I think you need to do more.”
Feminism has gone from battling their opponents’ ignorance to using arbitrary rules to say who is and isn’t a feminist. According to Annie, Beyonce isn’t a feminist because doesn’t “do enough.” Nevermind her participating in pro-feminist media campaigns, promoting empowerment via her music before ***Flawless was released and giving millions to the homeless in her hometown. Being sexy nullifies that work.
Annie Lennox doesn’t think twerking is feminist and to an extent, I agree with her. Twerking isn’t feminist. But neither is careerism, lesbianism, refusal to wear makeup, being childless or many of the other actions that are heralded as hallmarks of successful feminism.
A feminist is, a Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie put it, “a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”
That’s it. People have differing ideas of how to achieve that equality but that idea is the basis of feminism. In my opinion, anyone that agrees with that sentence is a feminist whether they call themselves one or not. The feminist movement has become too preoccupied with nitpicking that they’ve forgotten about this core idea. While people write think pieces about the celebrity du jour, there are still people suffering because their existence offends the patriarchy. Legislature continues to chip away at our rights while feminists whoop and holler over Beyonce’s sparkly ass. Who needs MRAs and critics if feminism is self-destructing? To further complicate this issue, women of color are the primary targets of this policing. Black female stars get chastised while white stars go ignored. Who cares about Miley Cyrus’ and Katy Perry’s blatant cultural appropriation and exploitation of colored bodies when there are brown buttcheeks that need to be covered. White feminism has criticized FLOTUS Michelle Obama for embracing her role as wife and mother while glossing over the fact that not too long ago many a Black baby went neglected because Black women were too busy taking care of white folks’ kids for money. Mainstream feminism likes to gloss over the fact that lived experiences and historical events means everyone’s feminism isn’t going to look the same. Instead of looking at trivial headlines for blog posts and planning expensive ass conferences, let’s get back to actually helping people and dismantling the patriarchy.