What does it mean to be an advocate for feminism in today’s fame-obsessed and media-oriented society? In the time when trends on Twitter, likes on Instagram and viral hashtag defines and manipulates the popular belief, exactly how important is it to support and vie for the feminist movement?
The truth is it is imperative, as it means standing up for your gender and guarding against the stereotypes and limitations imposed on women by society. That is why positive role models and social networking messages are the key to a steady and bright future for feminism—a much-forgotten but now revitalized movement through the medium of social network.
That is also why it is very important for many young girls’ role models, such as Shaleine Woodley, Carrie Underwood, Lena Dunham and Emma Watson to all respect feminism and identify as feminist.
Unfortunately, many of these icons fall short when questioned surrounding their stance on the dangerous and explosive “feminist” word. When Woodley was asked if she considered herself a feminist by The New York Times, she responded by denying the fact and spreading common misconceptions surrounding the notion of feminism.
“No,” said Woodley who continues, “Because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.”
Furthermore, country superstar Carrie Underwood distances herself from the term as one distances oneself from a flesh-eating disease. She says, "I wouldn't go so far as to say I am a feminist," according to the Huffington Post, and said she decided that the term is ultimately too severe in tone and underlying meaning, but claims that “she is definitely a strong female.”
To starkly contrast the previous disappointments in which these influential women renounce their title as an advocate for feminism and spread the misconception that the ultimate goal of feminism is inequality and matriarchy over patriarchy, there are also prime examples on how feminism should be approached through the media and how social network can be utilized as a positive outlet for change and equality.
For instance, there has been an online campaign entitled #YesAllWomen that encourages all women, especially young teenage girls, to embrace feminism and not shy away from the often foreboding and ridiculed term. It emerged after the brutal California mass-killing in Isla Vista in which Elliot Rodger killed six women as retribution for not being sexually attracted to him.
Along with this hashtag in which many twitter users participated in, celebrity Lena Dunham, creator and writer of the controversial and cleverly written HBO series entitled Girls, tweeted, “Just gotta say, on the almost-summer's day, I love you my brave web friends #YesAllWomen” to show her support as a feminist and disproval of Rodger’s blatant and hideous misogyny.
Even more, actress and U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson recently has taken initiative and action within the United Nations and gave a speech on gender inequality which asks men to participate in the change this September. She pushed the “He for She,” campaign, intended to incorporate men into discussions about ending discrimination and domestic violence against women, in a world often seemingly still as misogynistic as the 1960s.
The speech disseminated throughout the online world like wildfire and caught the eye of the media in its entirety, with Watson being praised for her bravery and eloquence in speech. While this was absolutely amazing and a great step for feminists, this too was also distracted by false threats from hackers who sought to leak naked, obscene photos of Watson for giving the speech.
As evident through my aforementioned points, feminism is experiencing regeneration and the public has taken more interest in incorporating feminism into popular culture and regular interviews with female celebrities. While this is true, many individuals and celebrities are also taking the opportunity to belittle feminism and to spread misconceptions which both damages and reverses the feminist cause.
Therefore, it is the time for society, the media, and female celebrities to utilize their influence and project their voices in a positive manner for the sake of the female gender. Every misconception printed in papers, every sexist retweet on Twitter, and casual ridicule further perpetuates the distorted view people have on a movement so beneficial and justified.
It is time for every woman to feel empowered and qualified to walk amongst the leading men in a heavily patriarchal world, and social media, when used the right way, can do just that.
Paige McCann is a student at Westfield High School.