Can women please stop saying “I’m not a feminist”?
Why is the phrase “I am not a feminist” so prevalent in mainstream media right now? Kim Kardashian is the most recent celebrity to speak out about how she’s “not a feminist.” In her words, she doesn’t want to be labeled as anything but a human being. To be clear, I have no idea what it’s like to be Kim Kardashian. I bet it’s both amazing and terrible. Regardless, with more than 150 million collective followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, it’s easy to assume that a lot of young women look up to her. And, right or wrong, the media takes her words and turns them into headlines that dominate every news outlet that exists.
It prompts me to ask, in this day and age, why is “feminist” a label that women are trying to avoid?
A few years ago I Googled the word feminism, only to find a surprising answer—the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
THIS is what feminism is? Why is there even a word for this? Shouldn’t this just be a general, widespread belief, like “the sky is blue”?
It was a bummer to learn that for 30 years, I lived my life blindly believing that most people considered men and women to be equal. Call me naïve, but I was raised by parents who taught me to pursue my dreams, no matter what, and never made me feel like less of a person because I’m a girl.
It’s hard enough for women to get ahead in business (making $.78 on the dollar and all) without high-profile women like Kardashian and Kaley Cuoco making the argument against being a feminist. Sarah Jessica Parker recently expressed similar sentiments, though it appears that she just doesn’t know exactly what feminism means. (Note to celebrity publicists: Before you sign a contract, make sure your client understands what feminism is.)
To be fair, I understand how the media can misconstrue a statement and turn it into something it’s not. I’m sure some of these comments were taken out of context, but it still makes a lasting impression.
I tell myself that for every Kaley, Sarah Jessica and Kim, you’ll find a Tina, an Amy, a Chrissy, and an Aziz. The more people that speak out about being a feminist—again, simply believing that women and men should be treated equally—the better off we’ll all be.
It’s time for me to admit a recent incident I’m not proud of. I once introduced Sharon Powills to a client as “Nick’s wife,” instead of as our company’s Chief Financial Officer. She handled it with grace, and simply said to the client, “Hi! I’m the CFO of No Limit.” Hot tears of embarrassment came down my cheeks the second I was alone in my office. (Oh, don’t even get me started on crying at the office. It’s OK to be a human being!) How could I possibly have thought it was OK to define her in that way? It proves that it’s easy to say things without thinking—and that we have a long way to go in terms of gender equality.
I look forward to a world where men and women are truly equal. I look forward to a time when women don’t preface a statement about their feelings or opinions with an apology. (I catch myself doing this all the time. What am I apologizing for, exactly? Existing?) And most of all, I look forward to a world where the word feminism is embraced and applauded instead of rejected and avoided.