Why did these celebrities say cringe-worthy things about feminism? Because they don’t know what the word means. Strictly speaking, feminism is “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities” (Merriam-Webster). Feminists believe that women are equal to men, and should be treated as such in all areas of society. However, over the years the term has gotten a bad wrap. It became linked, in popular culture, with aggression and even vulgarity, and was often wildly misinterpreted as a proverbial call to arms among women seeking supremacy over men.
Feminism is now, again, finding its rightful place in all societies that still struggles with inequality and the glass ceiling. But some men and women remain stuck in the dark ages, misunderstanding the surprisingly simple concept of feminism. The following nine female celebrities have gotten themselves caught up in a frenzy of negative press when they themselves spoke out against a garbled version of feminism, even disowning the term. They’ve publicly claimed not to be feminists – although, in reality, if they value their place in the world at all then they probably are.
It’s time to clear up some common misconceptions of feminism, starting with those on center stage.
9. Kelly Clarkson
Surprisingly, Kelly Clarkson says she is not a feminist. “I wouldn’t say feminist — that’s too strong. I think when people hear feminist, it’s like, ‘Get out of my way, I don’t need anyone.’ I love that I’m being taken care of and I have a man that’s a leader. I’m not a feminist in that sense”, she told TIME magazine.
Where did she go wrong? Feminists argue that all people should take care of each other. They’re all about giving women the freedom and the choice to be equal. Yes, that means that a feminist can be a doting housewife or a working mom. Kelly showed that she was completely misunderstanding feminism; since she believes in female empowerment she is, in fact, most likely a feminist herself.
8. Taylor Swift
Unfortunately, Taylor Swift also proved herself ignorant of what feminism is. She is quoted to have said, in 2012, “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”
Where did she go wrong? This is a very common belief that people have. They think that feminists are all about “girls versus guys” when in fact what they really want is for people to work together for equality. Feminists have husbands, sons and fathers and respect them.
Happily, Taylor has since gone back on her 2012 statement, after Emma Watson made an inspiring speech to the U.N. owning feminism.
Swift told Tout Le Monde En Parle that Watson’s speech helped her understand the concept, and that if she’d heard such a speech “earlier on in my life I would have proudly claimed I was a feminist because I would have understood what the word means.” Further, she clarified,”As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities.”
7. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is probably the most surprising on this list. She is a strong woman who believes in equal opportunity for all. However, she said,“I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture – beer, bars, and muscle cars.”
Where did she go wrong? Feminists do not dislike men. In fact, the very things Gaga is purporting to like (“male culture”) is the same culture feminists argue for the right to own equally – among all other facets of modern culture and the economy. Women should be able to do whatever men do socially, if they so wish. Promoting choice and fair treatment is exactly what feminists want.
6. Katy Perry
Katy Perry delivered an almost unbelievable quote: “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.”
Where did she go wrong? What does she even mean by this? She does not want equal opportunity for women but she wants them to be strong? If so, in what sense can they be strong if they’re not given the chance to live their lives as fully as men. Really, Perry is clearly confused about what feminism is. Strong women are most likely going to be feminists, sorry. If the meaning of strong is to be able to face obstacles and be proud of who they are, and their choices.
5. Carrie Underwood
Just because a word has a negative connotation attached, it doesn’t mean people shouldn’t do research on its true meaning. Underwood missed that, casually disregarding a term with a long and honorable history; “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.”
Where did she go wrong? If you believe that women should be able to be strong and pursue their goals and dreams, you’re probably a feminist. Feminism does have a negative connotation at times, but that’s not what the word really means. Women, and men, should be working to change this for the better.
The following baffling quote came straight from Madonna: “I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist.”
Where did she go wrong? This statement blatantly contradicts itself: Why? Because feminists share the goals of humanists, and vice versa. Both schools believe in equality for all people – they want both men and women to share equality in human rights.
Women are at the front and center, because women are typically the ones who are oppressed in the most ways. For instance, 60 percent of hungry people in the world are women (www.unwomen.org). They also are unable to find jobs in many sectors due to sexism and old-fashioned family values. When true equality comes for women, it will be a significant step for humanists.
3. Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth is not a feminist because Gloria Steinem would not approve of her marriage to a man, she told Harpers Bazaar. Um, what?
Where did she go wrong? Steinem is married (to a man) with kids, so this is not the whole story. At any rate, Paltrow is one of those actors who has prided herself on being a working, strong woman in the industry. She should probably have done a bit more research into feminism before making such a reductive comment.
2. Shailene Woodley
The Divergent star is quoted as saying, “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”
Where did she go wrong? Feminism is about balance. Equality means that all are given equal power and opportunity. Feminism is not the belief in female supremacy. Right now, men hold most of the power and make the vast majority of money in the world; they hold the most powerful positions and make the majority of decisions surrounding not only men, but women too. Including decisions based on women’s employment and healthcare. Feminisms simply want to equal the playing field.
1. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting
Kaley faced a lot of flack when she told Redbook she wasn’t a feminist because she has never faced inequality. She said that she was “old-fashioned” and did not consider herself a feminist.
Where did she go wrong? The stats are clear; there are far fewer women than men in positions of political power in the U.S.A. and women consistently earn less money than men. Kaley’s view might be a misunderstanding of feminism – perhaps she truly believes every woman has been as lucky as her? – or else she knows that other women are habitually facing inequality, but doesn’t care enough to speak out in support of those other women.