It might seem like a mind-blowing fact, but there are still people out there who are afraid to use the f-word (I mean, feminist. No one is afraid to use the other f-word). The misconceptions about, and stigma surrounding, feminism is still so strong in the modern world that there are a great deal of women, especially celebrities and other people in the public sphere, who claim that they aren't feminists — and follow that statement up by giving a justification that has nothing to do with feminism. That's why it struck me so strongly to hear Hillary Clinton tell Lena Dunham that she is a feminist. It's one of those things that you sort of knew, at the back of your mind, but knowing and hearing it are two different things. Clinton has shown it in her speeches and policies in the past, but the validation that comes from her standing up and identifying with the movement is staggering.
The chat between the two high-profile feminists (as we can now formally credit Clinton as) will air online on Tuesday on Dunham's new newsletter website, LennyLetter.com, and, according to Politico, the pre-recorded interview will reportedly span a broad range of topics from "what [Clinton's] own life was like in college, and the ambivalence she felt in her early 20s about her own life and career path... [as well as] campaign issues that resonate with Dunham's target audience, like student debt and women's health."
So is Clinton a feminist? The clip Dunham posted to Instagram merely features Clinton saying yes, but an extended clip from Politico has her expand upon that confident declaration in an even more powerful way. "Absolutely," Clinton goes on to say. "I'm always a little bit puzzled when any woman of whatever age, but particularly a young woman, says something like, 'well, I believe in equal rights but I'm not a feminist.' Well, a feminist is by definition someone who believes in equal rights. I'm hoping that people will not be afraid to say, that doesn't mean you hate men, it doesn't mean you want to separate out the world so that you're not a part of ordinary life — that's not what it means at all! It just means that we believe that women have the same rights as men."
With that response, Clinton cuts right to the lingering misconception about feminism, and to part of why there's still such a lingering stigma surrounding the word. Feminism is often mistaken by men and women alike as a movement that aims to usurp all power from men and give it to women instead, or as a word that needlessly causes divisions between people because of all of that stigma. As Clinton eloquently states in her response, that's not what feminism is about at all, and believing in equal rights and being a feminist are not mutually exclusive. Like, at all. Like, seriously, they are the exact same thing.
We'll have to wait until Tuesday to watch the full interview between Dunham and Clinton, but it's my sincere hope that Clinton expands upon her feminist beliefs, and her commitment to women's health issues during her campaign. The more high-profile women lend their voices to reminding the world that feminism is about equality not female domination, the closer we get to defeating that insidious misconception once and for all. As she herself said all the way back in 1995 when she spoke at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women: "If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard."
Check out the clip below.