The other week in NEON Magazine I read an interview with Lada Gaga, who, in response to the “are you a feminist?” question answered, “Absolutely not! I love men!” She then went one step further by elaborating on just how much she loves men, saying, “I would fuck a man every single damn day … but I’m Lady Gaga … so I really don’t have enough time right now in my life.”
Excuse me but feminism is NOT ABOUT HATING MEN!!! Why do strong independent women who are living in the wake of women who have struggled before them continue to get this one wrong? Feminism is simply this: “Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” (that’s straight from the dictionary, thank to Jessica Valenti, who looked it up for us). It’s not that tough.
I like to compare this to other civil rights struggles. It’s not like Obama would say, no, no, no, I’m not an anti-racist, I like white people! I sleep with a lot of white people, I would fuck white people all the time if I could but I don’t have time to fuck them all. It’s not like a gay man would say, oh no I don’t go to the Pride March; I don’t support rights for homosexuals, God no! I mean, after all, I like straight people! I would fuck straight people, I wish I could fuck every straight man in the world, if I only had the time!
WHAT THE FUCK?
I like Lady Gaga’s videos. I can’t say that she’s the most innovative artist or radical activist out there, but she’s an individual, independent woman making it at doing her thing well. And her response upset me all that much more because she was the SECOND public figure this month who denied—to the mainstream media—that she is a feminist because—get this—she fucks men. Good job. Let’s continue to spread this stupid misconception that “feminism” is about hating men or being a lesbian, or both.
Why has this misconception been so widespread, even among intelligent, strong women who basically look like feminists to me but are afraid to claim the term? Why are people so afraid to say that they support equal rights for women and call it feminism?
The first public figure this month to run scared from the f-word was one of the UK’s few female boxers who admits that she faces daily wide-scale suspicions about whether she “should” be a boxer at all (some of these differing opinions on whether females should be allowed to box were called into BBC radio that very episode). When asked if she was a feminist, she said, “oh, no, nothing like that … I really love men.” And then she goes on to explain how she’s really happy to have now found a man who loves her, given that so many men she’s dated have been afraid of her in the past. An outspoken female boxer living out the very things women have fought for and continue to fight for around the world? Smells like a feminist to me. But why so shy about it?
Many people would agree that having an African American in the White House may signify that civil rights have come a long way. But no one seems embarrassed to say they’re still working against racism in the United States; few would go as far as to say that racism is entirely GONE. Yet by being afraid to claim feminism, many women are buying in to the idea that sexism is completely gone when it’s not. And even those that hate the word would probably agree.
Obama isn’t afraid to reference Martin Luther King and note the historical significance of his place in the White House. He doesn’t have to backtrack and cough over his own words when he talks about the fact that he does indeed support civil rights for all citizens regardless of race, that there is still work to be done to support the needs of African American families and integrate his country fully. He doesn’t have to pansy over the fact that there are still more black men behind bars than any other group in the United States. He doesn’t have to act like supporting the struggles of black men and women in the United States implies that he hates white people. The same should be true of our support of women; in the United States full time working women still earn 76 cents to every full time working man’s dollar; abstinence programs tell us to maintain our virginities and we’re ridiculed if we seem to like sex; we still don’t enjoy equal rights to men the world over. Being outspoken against these things has nothing to do with hating men or hating sex.
So many women who are basically doing feminist work—by being outspoken original amazing artists, being empowered in careers that they love, earning the money that men of their status are earning, using their brains, their hearts, and their sexuality if and when they want to in an open way –shouldn’t have to be ashamed to call themselves feminists (people who believe in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes). Why can’t their work be part of a long tradition of feminist women? Isn’t it a testament to the fact that sexism is NOT dead that so many women are afraid to call themselves feminists?
C’mon ladies. I wish more women could just come out and say, yep, I’m a feminist and proud of it, of course I’m a feminist; shouldn’t everyone be?