Katy Perry isn't a feminist. She said she's not, and that means the world of feminism is crumbling. It also means that she hates women, and she thinks that we all deserved to be raped, stripped of our right to vote, and have our legal status returned to that of "property". Right?
Absolutely, unbelievably wrong. Why do women think it's okay to police each other in how we describe ourselves?
Yes, when women, especially famous women, say these things out loud, it can hurt women's equality. But you know what else it does? Self-righteous, angry feminists who disparage them better than Regina George ever could for making the mistake of saying their opinion out loud. You know what would be more helpful? Writing a heartfelt explanation about why feminism matters and what it is, rather than berating a woman for not self-identifying as one.
Has anyone asked what Katy Perry thinks "feminism" means? Has anyone sat her down and had a heart-to-heart about feminism? Probably not. She was raised in a conservative religious household and has been too busy recording chart-topping pop songs since she fled the nest.
Did Katy Perry destroy feminism? Probably not. Did she do something wrong? Maybe, but more importantly, are people responding too harshly? Shouldn't we be focusing on the ways in which self-identified feminists are attacking other women for the simple statement "I'm not a feminist"?
Amanda Hess from Salon brings up a good point: "I’m beginning to realize that the question 'Are you a feminist?' tells us much more about the feminist movement’s own branding failures than it does the beliefs of the women prompted to respond."
Until feminism gets its shit together, ladies should be allowed to choose to not label themselves as feminists if we want to. Some feminists are not so great at remembering that the label has some negative associations in addition to the many good things the movement has brought for our gender and many minorities.
Eschewing the label "feminist" doesn't automatically mean that you're negating or disrespecting all of the work done by the women who came generations before us. The term means something different now than it has in the past: you'd also be hard pressed to find two self-identified feminists who agreed with one another on what the term even meant, even if they had the same opinion about Katy Perry's remark.
Is the debate about self-identifying as feminist a political issue because we social, sexual, racial, and gender politics are in danger as a result of someone decrying the label? Or is it a political term because the women involved in its existence have made it one by placing so much at stake every time someone rejects the label?
Image via Samantha Sekula