It is a common question you will hear in celebrity interviews today: Are you a feminist? We have many people in our corner and some who do not want to associate with the term as it stands. We applaud the people who have joined the movement and express their allegiance in their own manner within popular culture and beyond however with this have come a growing trend in labelling and categorising how feminist individuals are.
The terms ‘lite-feminist’ and ‘white-privilege’ feminism emerge in various debates- something that feminism in essence is against: labelling and confining individuals. Instead of competing women in particular should be empowering one another and in many cases we see this is not apparent.
Singer Annie Lennox who has always been involved with conversations around the movement recently was part of an interview with LGBT PrideSource in which she questioned Beyoncé’s brand of feminism in regards to her VMA performance and other work stating 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]” The issue here is that the fourth wave of feminism has made some individuals question people’s self-expression and identity in relation to the movement. Yes Beyoncé may dance around a pole but for her this is about sexual liberation and empowerment, changing the power structures that exists in a patriarchal society. When searching her views on Google in a matter of seconds quotes and ideas surrounding the artists will appear and while she does not have an explicit history of being a visible feminist icon, is there any issue with it now? The real issue here is when women compete or negatively bring attention to other women this entitles men to do to them. Women should be banding together and assisting each other rather than dismantling any equality fought for and this in turn will help break down stereotypes for both men and women.
This is just one of many cases where people have questions an individuals motive and involvement in feminism given their personal identity but Feminism encourages personal choices about body, ideas and other aspects of life that show positive equality and expression for men and women. Don’t want to have children or want to be a stay home mum? Either does not make you more or less a feminist.
Feminism is not an exclusive club with framed “real feminists” up against “lite feminists” and like Emma Watson pointed out in her #HeForShe speech it is important that men and women not matter their identity should feel invited to join the conversation and fight. Feminism is built on the premise of bringing inclusion and equality so to create an exclusive vibe would disenfranchise the cause. Different individuals present different brands within the movement and while each is maybe fighting for different ideas, there is one common goal, gender equality.