There are many, many different branches of feminism out there. It even varies from person to person. However, there are also many views out there that are distinctly not feminist or even harmful to feminism. The last thing we need is more people presenting harmful and inaccurate clichés as feminism. That’s scaring people away from it. That’s also exactly what Cosmo does.
Cosmopolitan Magazine, mostly know to me and my friends as “that magazine that has been rehashing the same sex tips in every issue for years,” published an article called A Handy Guide to Celebrity Feminists. 2 things before I really get into it: First, I am all about promoting feminists – celebrities or not – in magazines I enjoy or otherwise; anything that makes feminism visible is good. Second, I also accept that not all people out there want to identify as feminist, even if they believe in equality. My partner is a firm believer in equality but he doesn’t like to label himself with any ‘isms.’ These 2 things are totally fine separately, but I wouldn’t exactly put them together. But that is precisely what Cosmo does. Michelle Ruiz, author of the article, wrote about celebrity feminists and included celebrities who do not identify as feminist and even have ideas about feminism that are detrimental to the cause. Um, Cosmo, what are you doing? I’m not claiming to be an expert on feminism, but I am pretty sure you’re doing it wrong.
Some of the successful and talented women included on the list make sense, like Amy Poehler. She identifies as a feminist and they include a quote stating so. Poehler is the first on the list so it seems like we’re off to a great start. I respect Poehler because she’s a funny woman in Hollywood, and we often see a lot more male comedians than female. It also seems to be more accepted and less controversial (with the exception of Daniel Tosh) for men to be funny and still be taken seriously in Hollywood, so it’s great to see women like Poehler or Tina Fey doing their thing.
Next up is Katy Perry, who is labelled to be “beyond feminism.” It’s wonderful that she believes in equality and acknowledges that we have yet to achieve it, but she specifies that she is not a feminist – so why is she on the list? She is a celebrity who believes in equality, but to my knowledge makes no effort to further it. The quote ends with her stating, “it’s great that these young women don’t feel like they need to be feminists.” Now depending on your perspective, this can be a good thing in the sense that women are free to live their lives without having to call themselves feminists to stand up for their rights. Alternatively, this could be seen as dismissive of the fact that lots of people do call themselves feminists, and many feel that it is crucially important that women continue to do so. Katy Perry’s opinion is just 1 opinion, but she’s got millions of fans; what she says influences a lot of people. We don’t want future generations not giving gender issues the same weight because of something they heard a celebrity say. So by only the second page of this list I am already questioning the validity of it.
I’m not going to go through the whole list. With all its ups and downs that would require a much larger word count. Read it and decide for yourself. But I have to mention Lady Gaga because her inclusion genuinely offended me. Her entry was labelled as “too sexy for feminism?” and it perpetuated the exact stereotype a lot of feminists like myself fight against. Gaga claims she is not a feminist because she worships men and loves things typically considered to be guy stuff like beer and cars. Excuse me, Gaga? Feminists are not man haters who despise all things masculine. Feminists fought hard so women like you could embrace things historically viewed as only appropriate if you had a dick – so that they could be culturally acceptable today. The implications of her statement are ignorant and hurtful, not to mention dangerous when considering just how many young people are going to hear that and think it’s okay. Feminists can be sexy, and like whatever we want regardless of gender norms. Gaga, and this magazine, are entirely missing the point of feminism and therefore damaging its already largely misunderstood reputation.
Dear Cosmo: In the future, please consider the significance of words before just throwing them around. You’ve got a huge readership and therefore a lot of sway. If you want to make a list of powerful celebrity women who support equality, do that. But don’t call it feminist when the women you include don’t call themselves feminists, and don’t include clichés that hurt the movement. Keep in mind that it was centuries of proto-feminist and feminist movements that allowed a magazine like yours to exist.