Why Are People Still Afraid Of The Word "Feminist"?

3 December 2015, 11:01 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09

Emma Watson
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

Feminists don't bite, babe.

Earlier this week, actress Emma Watson revealed to Porter Magazine that her speech addressing the U.N. on gender equality was almost censored. Watson says that she was discouraged from using the word "feminism" because event organizers told her it was "alienating" language. Emma didn't take the advice and went ahead to use the word multiple times before officially announcing her #HeForShe campaign.

While the campaign itself was flawed from the onset, Emma Watson's experience of being advised not to use the word "feminism" is kind of unbelievable. There's no doubt, feminism is trendy right now. Beyoncé performing in front of a screen that reads "FEMINIST" and Charli XCX doing a whole documentary about the word prove that feminist issues are modern issues.

That's why it's kind of unbelievable that many people, celebrities included, choose to shy away from the movement. When you think of Lady Gaga it's hard not to think of her as a feminist icon. She is bold, innovative, and outspoken about her beliefs on equality. And yet, when asked if she is a feminist, her response is this: 

I'm not a feminist - I, I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars....

Lady Gaga

Even Carrie Underwood's explanation for not being a feminist has to do with the title itself.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I am a feminist, that can come off as a negative connotation. But I am a strong female. My parents raised me to be pretty independent

Carrie Underwood

In addition to Lady Gaga and Carrie Underwood, tons of other iconic women have rejected the term. Even British Prime Minster, David Cameron, refused to wear a shirt with the word "feminist" on it for fear of alienating male voters. Despite this, many of them say they believe in social and political equality for women and enjoy their various freedoms attained through earlier feminist movements. But they're not feminists.

It's not actual feminism as a concept which scares people; it's the image they believe the word itself projects. It's also worth pointing out that younger celebrities tend to identify with feminism more than their slightly older counterparts. Halsey, for example, talks a lot about feminism and the need for intersectionality.

This probably stems from the fact that a lot of older celebrities lived through the feminist movement of the late sixties and early 70s and, therefore, view it as disruptive and confrontational. On the other hand, young girls use the internet to share experiences concerning modern feminism which they view as a shared experience. 

So, in order to help some of our friends along, here is a feminism FAQ to clear up some misconceptions.

Q: I love men. Can I be a feminist?
A: Yes! Feminism has nothing to do with hating men. You can even be married to a man and be a feminist!  

Q: Do I have to burn my bra? 
A: No. Bras are very expensive.

Q: Does being a feminist mean I have to be angry all the time? 
A: No. 

Q: Does being a feminist mean that I believe women are better than men? 
A: No, we're all adults here. It's not boys against girls. It's just equality, babe. 

Q: But I'm a "humanist"! 
A: Good for you! The good thing about being a person with free will and sentience is that you can align yourself with multiple ideologies at once. :) 

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