Leiden Anthropology Blog

A new boost for feminism

A new boost for feminism FromPhoenix Dark-Knight

The word feminism has negative connotations. Yet, the stereotypes of feminists as ‘man-hating’, unsexy, complaining women have recently been shaken by Emma Watson, Beyoncé, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. How did they give feminism a new stimulus?

Sweet Feminism

First of all, in September actress and United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson (known for her role in the Harry Potter films) launched the UN “HeForShe” campaign with a moving and passionate speech. Watson spoke about feminism, equal rights, and opportunities for women and men. In her speech she invited men to join the “uniting movement” and asked them to speak out for gender equality. She described the problems traditionally associated with the word “feminism”,  but explained that gender equality was still an urgent issue.

When her speech was put online it went viral and has generated a lot of discussion in the media and social media. If you haven’t yet seen this speech yourself, please check it out and share your thoughts about it in the comments below.
 

Emma Watson with her “HeForShe” speech for the United Nations

Sexy Feminism

A second recent statement about feminism came from performer and singer Beyoncé Knowles. At the MTV Video Music Awards August 2014, Beyoncé used part of a speech by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about feminism. The picture of Beyoncé standing in front of a projection of the word “Feminist” was seen live on television by many people and was posted on Beyoncé’s Twitter, which has more than 13 million followers. Beyoncé has a huge audience all over the world, so her ‘coming out’ as a feminist has had a wide impact.

Beyoncé claiming to be a feminist, dressed in a sexy glitter outfit, naturally prompted comments about how feminism should be expressed, and about whether a feminist in a glitter outfit could really be taken seriously. Of course there are feminists who aim for gender equality in other ways. But a top celebrity like Beyoncé presenting herself as a feminist will cause many people to start thinking about feminism, or to think about it in a new light.
 

 

 

Beyoncé at the MTV Video Music Awards August 2014 (feminism part at 1:32:35)

Smart Feminism

Thirdly, one of my favorite speeches on feminism is by the writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She is a successful author from Nigeria, who has written several novels. In her TEDx talk “We Should All Be Feminist” she connects her personal journey as a feminist with the importance of gender equality. Like Watson she explains that ‘feminism’ often has negative connotations; in her case she has even been accused of being “un-African”. She uses a personal example to explain how maleness is still the norm and femaleness is taken less seriously, and why this is harmful. I would encourage everyone to watch this video and be inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
 

 

 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie with her TEDx talk “We Should All Be Feminist”

A new boost for feminism

Emma Watson, Beyoncé Knowles, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  express themselves as feminists, and by so doing they show that “feminism” is very varied and is still an urgent issue. In addition, by these powerful public expressions they show that feminism is not an old-fashioned, ugly word. The one-sided stereotypes of feminists as being man-haters have been destabilized. I would argue that feminism has received a new boost.

Have you noticed other examples of new stimulus on feminism? Please comment below.

6 Comments

Floor Hendriks
Posted by Floor Hendriks on March 7, 2016 at 14:32

Tip: short movie of researcher Annelot Prins about Beyoncé and feminism: https://www.mindshakes.com/beyonce/ (in Dutch)

Floor Hendriks
Posted by Floor Hendriks on May 13, 2015 at 23:18

The Marie Claire reads the Leiden Anthropology Blog!
Marie Claire - ‘De opmars van het nieuwe feminisme’

Floor Hendriks
Posted by Floor Hendriks on December 31, 2014 at 13:16

Thanks for your comments! ‘End-of-the-year-list’ by The Guardian: ’ 2014: a year of brave, inspiring, young feminists’ http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2014/dec/18/year-of-brave-youg-inspirational-feminist-role-models

Aart
Posted by Aart on November 25, 2014 at 17:33

I love the positive vibe of your blog, Floor! Can’t you do something with this: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2014/nov/17/male-tv-presenter-same-suit-year-female-colleagues-judged and relate it to this: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/11232986/Matt-Taylors-sexist-shirt-and-the-day-political-correctness-officially-went-mad.html? Also, Zuzka is a very interesting feminist, you know!

Erik Bähre
Posted by Erik Bähre on November 25, 2014 at 16:22

Another approach in Spanish, the feminazi:
http://m.excelsior.com.mx/opinion/anna-bolena-melendez/2014/11/24/993966

Annelot
Posted by Annelot on November 25, 2014 at 10:49

What about the male feminist? http://mashable.com/2014/10/07/aziz-ansari-explains-feminist/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link

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