This week, both reality TV queen Kim Kardashian and Kolinda Grabar, Croatia's first female president, had some interesting things to say about feminism. As you might suspect, they wholeheartedly support women in business and equality in general — which is great — but Kardashian and Grabar said they don't identify as feminists. Their quotes regarding their views on feminism were even eerily similar.
In a speech at a San Francisco "tech talk," Kardashian stated, "I guess people would call me a feminist. I believe in doing what makes you feel comfortable, but I don't like to label myself."
(As a general rule, when the word "but" follows the statement "I am a feminist," nothing too great usually follows.) And in a Monday interview with EuroNews, while Grabar had a lot to say on topics including peace and recession in Croatia, she also made a startling declaration about feminism:
I am not a feminist. I am a person who just wants to see equality, equal treatment for everyone. So yes, I will push for the agenda of promoting women in business, and in political and social life, in public life, but it does not mean that I want women to be advantaged in any way, I just want equal opportunities for everyone.
Supporting women in business, "equal opportunities" for all, and people doing whatever makes them "feel comfortable" is wonderful, and it also happens to be the literal definition of feminism. Now, don't think I'm discrediting these two bright and phenomenally successful women because that certainly wouldn't be feminist of me, but as wonderful and positive as their statements are, Kardashian and Grabar are both clearly out of touch with what it means to be and identify as a feminist. And they're certainly not alone. Plenty of women and men alike are proud to say they support equality, but for some reason, are far less proud to say they are feminists (if they say they are, at all), even though the former and the latter are the exact same things. Imagine a doctor who treats skin refusing to be called a dermatologist because she "[doesn't] like to label herself."
It's not necessarily Kardashian's or Grabar's fault or the faults of any man or woman on the same boat. Myths about feminism are rampant, and most of them are scary and untrue. Just to bust a few misconceptions: No, not all of us are "angry lesbians" (but seriously, angry lesbians are great), not all of us support Hillary Clinton (she's certainly a respectable presidential candidate though), not all of us are going to keep our last names, not all of us don't want children, not all of us are partaking in a conspiracy to end the male sex, and not all of us are women. However, all of us are people who proudly identify with a word that embodies female empowerment and equality for all classes, races, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities.
Like other people who shy away from the word, Kardashian and Grabar probably do believe that they are supporters of gender equality and allies to women. But by avoiding being "labeled" with a word that implies female strength, however much one might claim to support equality, it’s unlikely that they fully understand the term if they view the gender equality movement's brand name as something too shameful to wear in public. Identifying as a feminist is a crucial part of being one. The ability to proudly say "I am a feminist," and to view the word as not a label but a lifestyle of respect and open-mindedness, is the most important aspect of being a feminist, and consequentially, being a genuine supporter of gender equality.
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