Feminism is still very much the F word that people do not want to associate or identify with, which I’ve written about before. It’s always interesting to see how celebrity or high profile women respond whenever the F word comes up in an interview.
On July 23rd, in an interview with the Guardian, former model Elle Macpherson shed some light on her ideas about feminism. When asked, “Are you a feminist?” she responded:
I’m somebody who truly honours femininity. And I believe in individuality, and uniqueness, and that’s all I’m going to say on that.
Wow, can you be any more vague? Macpherson’s answer shows how women want to dissociate from feminism because of all the pervasive negative stereotypes attached to it, like the classic stereotype that feminists are ugly and un-feminine. Femininity is a social construction and it is based on a narrow and constricting gender binary that does not allow much room for variation.
The follow-up question was “But you shy away from the word ‘feminism’?” Macpherson responded:
It’s one of those coined phrases that has a lot of innuendo and not much meaning these days. There’s a stereotypical perception that a feminist is somebody who believes in equal rights for men and women. Well, I believe men and women are different and they have different needs, therefore the concept of equal rights doesn’t really sit with me in many ways.
Gee, thanks for your profound insights! Feminism does not have much meaning these days? Actually, I beg to differ. I can go on and on about why feminism is still relevant, but in a soundbite: 1. The Equal Rights Amendment has yet to be ratified, 2. There is still a wage gap and women only make 77 cents to the male dollar, and 3. Rape is a primary weapon of war in many conflict zones, which places women in greater harm than men.
And yes, men and women are different. But they should still have equal access to opportunities and institutions in society. There’s a quote that comes to mind now (June Jordan said it) that goes like, “There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of difference.”
“…the concept of equal rights doesn’t really sit with me in many ways”?! Oh dear. Here comes my head against the desk.