For every female celebrity who comes out as a proud feminist, there's another who announces her aversion to the movement. In a recent interview with NYLON, actress Shailene Woodley said that she doesn't identify with the "F-word" because she doesn't like labels. “The reason why I don’t like to say that I am a feminist or I am not a feminist is because to me it’s still a label,” she explained. While the feminist internet might have some choice words for her, I personally could care less. What's more interesting to me are the ways women passively (and actively) critique feminism through their declinations. Some responses are reasonable and hold up to further inspection, and some only reveal an uneducated perspective on feminism as a whole.
While the trend of asking female celebrities if they are feminists is frustrating in itself — why aren't we asking all male celebrities these questions? — we have to just accept that it's part of pop discourse today. When famous women (and everyday women) respond to this question in the negative, they all seem to consult the good book of non-feminists and come up with one of five pat answers. I like to imagine that there's a handy guide you receive in the mail when you reject your feminist membership (the "regrets" card is probably printed on a maxi pad or something) and this is where the classic responses explaining why you're not a feminist come from.
1. "I Don't Like Labels"
This is truly the Switzerland of answers. While you may not like labels, you are still going to be labeled a woman by society, and that label can cause you all kinds of trouble. However, sometimes it is true that segregating people based their beliefs can be more divisive than unifying, so I can see the thought process behind this particular answer.
2. "I Love Men Too Much"
Gurl, me too. But wait! You can still be a feminist and love men. This is the worst answer ever (well, maybe it's tied with #4). Get your facts straight before you disavow a movement that only looks to end gender inequality. Football, motorcycles, beer, and blow jobs aren't off the table just because you're into women's rights. I'm looking at you, Gaga!
3. "I'm A Humanist"
By all accounts, this sounds great. Who wouldn't be for all people? Besides the fact that, as bell hooks says, "feminism is for everybody" because we all suffer from harmful gender stereotypes, humanism isn't about gender so it is not the opposite of feminism. Humanism originated as a secular, critical response to religion-based moral perspectives. A humanist believes in the good of humankind and in rational, science-based thought. (The American Humanist Association's slogan is "good without god" if that explains it more clearly.) You can be a humanist, but it doesn't mean you can't ALSO be a feminist. They are not mutually exclusive.
4. "I Don't Hate Men"
This one is a bit more dangerous than the "I love men" response. Feminist does not equal misandrist — although, yes, there can be feminists who do hate men. There can also be non-feminists who hate men, and men who hate men and — you get the picture. The man-hater is just a tired old trope designed by the haters to keep feminists down. Come up with a better reason than this, please!
5. "There Are More Important Things To Focus On"
I think that women all over the world receiving access to proper health care and being protected by their laws is a pretty pressing issue. However, Lana Del Ray seems to think space travel is more important, because maybe in space gender is rendered obsolete (like gravity)? This answer is confusing to a die hard feminist, but I get how worldwide poverty or environmental issues (or "intergalactic possibilities") could be perceived to trump specialized, feminist issues.
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