In a recent interview pop artist Lana Del Rey was asked by Fader about the backlash she receives from feminism about her submissive image. Her comment has many feminist upset, but I can’t help, but ask why are we asking every female celebrity that if they’re feminist.
When asked about her thoughts on feminism Lana Del Rey said
“For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept,” she says. “I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested.” [x]
The question is a variation of a tread in journalism that is quickly becoming tiresome. Everyone from Taylor Swift to retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor have been asked if they consider themselves feminist and have reject the term. Madonna would rather identify herself as a humanist. Carla Bruni doesn’t think feminism is needed anymore. Queen B, Beyoncé considers herself a feminist, but with a disclaimer for you know that she’s not a feminist like that. Recently actress Shailene Woodley, who portrayed the heroine of the critical flop Divergent was asked the big F question by Time, Woodley’s response has the worst one yet.
“No, because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance … And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn’t work either. We have to have a fine balance. My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism. I don’t know how we as women expect men to respect us because we don’t even seem to respect each other.” [x]
Not only does Woodley not consider herself a feminist, but she doesn’t get the point of the feminist movement at all.
Journalist need to stop asking female celebrities if they’re a feminist. “Feminist” is not a simple label like “Vegetarian”. Vegetarianism doesn’t always have political roots, it can simply a diet choice. Being a feminist on the other had represent a responsibility to the feminist movement. You can be a vegetarian without believing that eating meat is wrong, but you’ll never hear a feminist say “Personally I’m a feminist, that’s my choice. Your misogyn doesn’t bother me”.
It is perfectly fine when women like Lana Del Rey do not want to talk about the feminist movement and doesn’t consider herself a feminist. She’s not a tragic lose for the feminist community. If anything Lana Del Rey has set feminism back a bit. Lana Del Rey got famous off her daddy’s money so she probably never faced any real difficulties that other woman face in the music industry. Her music romances abusive relationships and her obsession with older men sexualizes pedophilia (she has a song about the book Lolita for crying out loud!). There is also the submissive style in both her music and her behavior which brought upon the question from Fader in the first place. Del Rey clearly doesn’t represent anything remotely feminist. Just because she’s a woman in power doesn’t mean she’s using that power to help other woman and she really doesn’t have to.
From what I know about director Kathryn Bigelow is that she won an for Oscar for Zero Dark Thirty gave a kick ass speech about women in the industry and her contribution pretty much ends there. Sure Bigelow’s win shows that it’s possible for a woman to win the Oscar for best director, but that’s about it. Now whenever someone complains about inequality in Hollywood we get to hear “BUT KATHRYN BIGELOW!” to which I had to respond “Kathryn Bigelow is not the only women in Hollywood, please shut up”. As a young woman who wants to get into film making Kathryn Bigelow’s shinny oscar for Zero Dark Thirty does nothing for me. At the end of the day the win really should just represent Kathryn Bigelow’s hard work and talent it does nothing for other women in her industry. This is the same as Lana Del Rey’s popularity and awards do nothing for woman in the music industry. They just prove that Del Rey can sell music. Both Bigelow and Del Rey are just doing their jobs. Those jobs don’t require them to be feminist.
The answer to the question “Are you a feminist” doesn’t mean anything unless the person being asked is actually talking about feminism and/or helping woman. We only disappoint ourselves by asking this question. It’s a waste of time seeing feminism where their isn’t. Instead we should be focusing on celebrities who actually consider themselves feminist without being asked, like Lena Dunham of HBOs Girls, actress and comedian Margret Cho, Orang is the New Black’s Larvern Cox (who is a transwoman and activist for trans rights as well), and even Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself Sir Patrick Stewart. These are people who are actually talking about feminism and helping women. We should also be talking about popular feminist leaders such as Jessica Valenti, Jaclyn Friedman, Julie Zeilinger, and people who are at the forefront of the modern day feminism movement. Stop being disappointed in women who do not have time for feminism and who don’t care about when you have several amazing people that do.