Thoughts on Feminism & Pop Culture

December 8, 2014

December 2014 Issue
Its taken me a while to get round to writing this blog post. As soon as I opened Elle magazine’s December feminist issue I was all set to write a post praising its boldness. But in the days that followed my social media feeds were filled with outcry questioning what authority a fashion magazine has over feminism. I was hurt, and felt personally undermined. As if those more intelligent and than me were trivialising my interests. Yes I love fashion, yes I’m a feminist.  You only need to listen to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s famous ted talk to know that fashion and feminism can go hand in hand.

However I am not naïve, I completely understand the paradox of feminism and the fashion industry but lets be clear we are living in a capitalist society.  Advertisements pray on our dissatisfactions, they sell us our unattainable beautiful future and I’m afraid fashion magazines feature these adds and their editorials often feature the so called ‘ideal’ slim, white body. It's not just fashion magazines that use this imagery, it’s the majority of media we consume.

But I do not believe this discredits the brilliant journalism and issues raised in Elle magazine.  Criticizing Elle’s feminist credentials is like asking me if the outfit I'm is wearing is ‘feminist enough, its ridiculous. Everyone has a right to engage in this conversation. So lets not criticise women’s magazine that are attempting to change the discourse.

November 2013 Issue 

We have got to start somewhere and Elle and many other writers, activists, bloggers, creative and pop icons have collectively reignited the conversation.  And for the younger generation the conversation has just started.

There has been some talk about what a feminist ‘should’ be doing rather than just declaring oneself a feminist. Do these critics not realise this is just the start for many of us?

You shouldn’t feel less of a feminist for not taking to the streets. For myself Feminism is a lens through which I view the world, it has started from within. It is apparent through how we respect each other and ourselves as equals and to not let sexist behaviour wash over us.  Why undermine women who identify as feminist because you don’t see them on the picket line, we are not silent in our belief of equality.

November 2013 Issue 
Feminism is personal and it shouldn’t be dictated. For many young women the journey has only just begun and they may make the decision to become political activists and they may not. We do need change and we need the push for it to happen, but we can also make smaller changes in our own lives that make steps towards becoming an equal society. 

I was genuinely excited when I first saw Elle magazines first feminist issue in November 2013, I thought ‘YES, this is spreading the word, it’s reaching a wider audience…I’m not alone’ 
That issue along with the all the campaigns that were gathering momentum gave me confidence for my voice to be heard. After a discussion with my university tutor about my lack of self-confidence with my work she pointed out that confidence for a woman, in itself is a feminist matter. With that in mind I proceeded to organise a craftivist feminist workshop where I started with a talk about why feminism was still relevant for me in front of a group of my peers. I was terrified.

I think a lot of young women would be sick with nerves like I was at the thought of public speaking, especially talking about such a contested subject.  I think a lot of us have a ‘little old me’ mentality, as if our voices are not worthy of being heard.  Confidence is what I applaud Elle magazine for, giving women the confidence to have conversations and discussion about the inequality women face all over the world, how patriarchy and hyper masculinity damages men too, to challenge sexism, and to let there voices be heard.

December 2014 Issue

When Emma Watson, my childhood hero, stood before UN ambassadors and gave her speech, I burst with pride, and yes, I got emotional! She was articulating my exact thoughts and feelings to a world stage.

Feminism needs to be more inclusive there are some women that don’t identify with mainstream often ‘white’ feminism, there are young women who are influenced by Beyoncé and pop culture that feel their voices aren’t valid because of academic critics, and there are men who support feminism that feel like their not allowed a voice in the matter.

 Feminism is such a broad movement and there are so many opinions on different issues. Nothing will come from the endless online bickering in comment sections. I can accept different people from different backgrounds will have a different stance on some matters. What can be agreed on is we all strive for equality and what is important is that we all respect and support each other. Choice is a powerful thing and we have been given the gift of choice by the generations of feminists before us. So please can we respect other women’s choices and put trivialities aside and concentrate on change in societies attitude towards woman and the gender binaries that restrict us. As I said before, it can start within yourself or outside your parameters. One is not less valid then the other.