Modern feminism

Sorry, but I really just don’t understand it:

2013 has been a bumper year for the celebrity feminist. There was THAT video by Lily Allen, and THAT performance by newly proclaimed women’s libber Miley Cyrus. Policymic’s 28 most iconic feminist moments of 2013 featured 11 celebrity feats. Jennifer Lawrence refused to lose weight, bootilicious Beyoncé came out of the feminist closet, sampling Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s anti-patriarchy talk, and TV star Mindy Kaling, who plays a ditzy doctor desperately hunting a boyfriend, claims the title by dint of being plump and brown. This year feminism cloaked celebrity culture like a new mink and shifted units in the process – 80,000 in three hours in Beyoncé’s case.

But before we get our girl power twerk-on, it must be noted that most of these modern-day feminists are infamous for growing the canon of formulaic depictions of femaleness rather than challenging it. So why the PR about-turn? Why has an organised movement that seeks to dismantle the systems that block equal rights for women been reduced to a soap-box for the media-sanctioned to protest their right to exist? Might this watered-down feminism serve the very system that feminists should be fighting to dismantle?

Let’s look at another moment of musical resistance that took place this year that didn’t feature trembling booties or dancing teddy bears, so went unnoticed. The gap between these promoted and unpromoted acts of resistance proves why it is more important than ever to strengthen feminism’s roots and not weaken them.

Setting the scene, back in 2002 I watched multi-Grammy winner Lauryn Hill stand on a stage armed only with a guitar. Between songs she confessed that due to the crippling control the music and media industry was exerting over her career, she was bowing out. She feared the effect that the manipulation of her image, lyrics and performance was having on her artistry and her largely female fan base. The show was unscripted and heartfelt and often made for uncomfortable listening. After this tour, Hill stopped performing, stopped making music and stopped paying taxes, releasing an open letter in which she labelled the music industry “a media-protected military industrial complex”.

So while Cyrus was proclaiming, “I feel like I’m one of the biggest feminists in the world because I tell women to not be scared of anything”, Hill, this year, faced the very real fear of working out a three-month prison sentence.

What? An industry which makes women fabulously, dynastically, rich because they can warble attractively is anti-feminist? And asking Hill to pay taxes on the many millions (and it was indeed many, many, millions she made) she made is anti-feminist?

I think I preferred it when it was “All men are scum” because at least there was some evidence that some indeed are.

5 thoughts on “Modern feminism”

  1. Didn’t you get the memo?

    Black person with vulva doesn’t pay taxes = brave stand against the system.

    White person with testicles doesn’t pay tax = enemy of the people.

  2. I wonder what the real reason Ms Hill dropped off the pop culture radar was. Poor CD sales combined with being unwell sounds most likely based on the description above.

    As for the rest of the article, meh. Like most feminist writing, it’s hard to agree or disagree because it doesn’t present any logical arguments.

    Apparently in 2013, some famous and rich women did things, and also said things.

    A pop music star appeared in a pop music video. Another pop star also appeared in a pop video.

    A slim beautiful young woman said she wouldn’t get slimmer, and another attractive woman who makes millions from dancing around and singing in her knickers said she is a feminist.

    But while all of these are wonderful things, they’re also bad things because what these ladies should be doing is quitting the business that has made them fabulously wealthy, famous, and hopefully happy. After all their hard work to become rich and famous, these girls should stop selling records, making videos, paying taxes, and presumably set up a survivalist compound in the woods like a prettier, lipglossed version of the Unabomber, because that would really stick it to The Man.

    “Gaylene Gould is a writer, coach and critic and broadcasts with the BBC. She is also a faculty member of The School of Life”


  3. Reading this sort of tripe makes one wonder whether it was really such a good idea to give them education and the vote.

    But I suspect most women would agree that this is tripe. So on balance, yes it was an OK idea.

  4. Antique feminism = “stop telling us we can’t do things just because we’re female”.

    Modern feminism = “men bad” and “‘women who don’t agree with me entirely’ badder.”

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