Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Getty
” Goodbye To … “ is an end-of-decade series that explores a few of the greatest cultural trends of the last 10 years. HuffPost’s culture team says bye to the era of “one queen of hip-hop,” so long to lily white and mainly male literary organizations, R.I.P. to the film star and more.
In October 2010, Taylor Swift was profiled by The New York Times in advance of the release of her new album, “Speak Now.” The piece homes in on her anger, the manner in which Swift’s musical genius appears directly correlated to how “incensed” she is at the time. As an aside, reporter Jon Caramanica asked Swift whether she was a feminist.
” I have actually never ever truly considered that,” she said.
Over the following decade, Swift– and a whole mate of famous females– invested a lot of time contemplating that extremely question. In Between 2010 and 2015, the concern dogged everyone from pop stars ( Beyoncé, Lorde, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson), to actresses ( Sarah Jessica Parker, Kaley Cuoco, Shailene Woodley, Susan Sarandon), to truth TELEVISION personalities ( Patti Stanger), to CEOs ( Marissa Mayer), to Martha Stewart Each time a well-known woman was asked whether she was a feminist, her one-to-three sentence answer would become national news. The more misdirected– “Feminists dislike males!” “Feminists have a chip on their shoulder!” “But I’m a humanist!”– the more newsworthy.
However when 2016 governmental election rolled around, the churn of Are-You-A-Feminist-Check-Yes-Or-No celebrity news headings had slowed to a crawl, just turning up when a celebrity stated something more substantive about the political motion.
The fluctuate of the star feminist litmus test supplies a helpful lens to think about the years in feminism at big. When the decade opened, “feminist” was a label that was still considered unpalatable to the masses. It was a word female stars would probably be advised to sidestep, allowing them to take advantage of the amorphous idea of female “empowerment” without really having to get political. As we look towards the decade’s close, the political and cultural environment has shifted drastically. Feminism is both mainstream and extensive, a necessary– and clearly political– project in a world in which virulent online misogyny has actually become de rigeur, and in which stars (and others who select to publicly declare the feminist label) are being asked to do the work of feminism, instead of simply pay it lip service.
” I believe into the decade, there was this increasing popularity of feminism that started off as a sluggish burn and after that increased towards the middle of the years,” said Caitlin Lawson, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of interaction and media at the University of Michigan, whose research study largely concentrates on celebrity feminism. She indicated “Women,” which premiered in 2012, in addition to other female-fronted TV programs like “Parks and Leisure” and “30 Rock,” as cultural items that assisted introduce a feminist popular culture moment.
” These white feminist celebs [like Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey] were incorporating [feminism], especially into the tv material that they were creating,” Lawson stated, “‘ Ladies,’ I believe being a particularly magnificent minute where Lena was out there talking about feminism and was this young cool face of what feminism might be.”
2012 was likewise the year that Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a viral TED Talk, aptly entitled “We Must All Be Feminists.” In that talk, Adichie uses the dictionary definition of feminist: ” an individual who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”
There was a growing, nobly intentioned motion to make feminism more accessible and inclusive, and to combat the decades of misinformation and negative stereotypes that had surrounded the movement.
And it worked.
Kaley Cuoco excused angering people and said that her comments were taken “out of context.” Katy Perry confessed that she “used to not actually understand what that word suggested.” Swift likewise declared prior ignorance, stating that she had actually believed that feminism belonged to disliking males, not “just saying that you hope females and males will have equal rights and level playing fields.” And Swift especially credited her burgeoning friendship with Dunham with helping to usher in her feminist awakening.
When Beyoncé carried out in front of a huge projection of “FEMINIST” at the 2014 Video Music Awards– and got extensive and overwhelmingly positive limelights– it was a sign of a cultural transformation, one which had actually been constructing in the years prior.
This feminist popular culture minute also accompanied an increase in noticeable, internet-fueled misogyny, much of which was fixated and directed at prominent women. (Maybe in part a reaction to the increased acceptance of feminism.)
Gamergate, the online harassment campaign targeting females in the video game industry, began in August2014 About a week later, a hacker posted more than 500 private photos from the iCloud accounts of celebs, mainly women, to 4Chan. The leakage, which would be termed “ The Fappening,” included intimate photographs of ladies like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Jill Scott, Cuoco and Kirsten Dunst. The images were then widely flowed through 4Chan, Reddit and imgur. Both Gamergate and the star nude image leak started an extended dialogue about institutional sexism, slut-shaming and harassment.
” More and more we had these examples to point to that revealed us that we were not past the requirement for feminism,” Lawson said. “I would not state that it’s necessarily causal … but that summer season of 2014 was a huge shift.”
As Hollywood began to progressively accept feminism, at least in word, so too did the culture as a whole. (After all, celebrity culture does not operate in a vacuum.) During the mid-2010 s, feminism got … cool. Feminism became fashionable, simple and nonthreatening. No killjoys or feminazis in sight.
“ The New Do: Calling Yourself A Feminist,” declared Glamour Magazine in October2013 The movement was utilized to offer shampoo and body wash and menstrual pads, and even ended up on the Chanel runway A basic Google search for “feminist gift guide” pulls up pages upon pages of links. (One that we published on HuffPost Women in 2015 includes a Michelle Obama carry bag, a GRL PWR tee, “feminist as fuck” fine precious jewelry, and a $250 Queen denim jacket.)
Celebrities began tossing out the f-word delicately in interviews. Lorde criticized Selena Gomez’s hit “Come & Get It” for not being feminist, and then Gomez responded by turning feminism back on Lorde. “That’s not feminism,” she stated. “[Lorde is] not supporting other females.” Miley Cyrus conjured up the term to reveal the freedom of being a single lady: “It has a lot to do with being a feminist, but I’m finally O.K. with being alone.” Katy Perry, newly enlightened feminist, declared that feminism “simply suggests that I enjoy myself as a female and I likewise love guys.”
Yes, feminism is eventually about equality for people of gender identities. However, maybe more importantly, it’s about defining what that vision of equality will look like and what paths are required to get there. It’s about legislation and the courts and elections and knocking on doors and opposing in the streets and signing up with a union and safeguarding the most susceptible amongst us, even if you are not a member of that group.
It is not, nevertheless, a selfish proposal of inward approval. When it concerns feminism, “caring yourself” is not enough.
After years of seeing well-known females get grilled about feminism– and respond to with differing degrees of ignorance– some feminist journalists began to wonder whether the concern itself was adding to the movement’s hollowing out in the general public discourse.
” As more and more female celebs have flipped to a default yes, the concern has actually yielded decreasing returns,” wrote Amanda Hess in a 2015 piece for Slate, indicating Cyrus, Cuoco and “Golden” author Stephanie Meyer. “While stepping up to declare oneself as a feminist utilized to be rather significant, the word has now been flattened into a press trip sound bite. And for many stars who take it on, the word itself has been lowered to its most benign analysis– the concept that males and females ought to be equivalent.”
And then Donald Trump was chosen.
Not just had actually an eminently qualified female been beat by an incomparably unqualified (and absolutely racist and sexist!) man, but many white ladies had actually helped in that outcome. Overnight, it became perfectly clear to even the most privileged feminists that a reaction– triggered by the worries of “voters threatened by the increased impact of ladies and people of color,” as Rebecca Traister put it— was upon us.
In this more widely exposed truth, consistently asking popular women whether or not they were feminists ended up being much more undoubtedly worthless.
” With Donald Trump’s explicitly racist and misogynistic rhetoric, this was another moment where it became clear that the stakes were higher,” Lawson stated. “There were serious issues that we needed feminism to address, and it was not going to be attended to through Kaley Cuoco being asked 7 times if she’s a feminist and then finally saying, ‘Yes, I guess I am.'”
So many females were mad after the election. And that anger simmered, burned and break out over the latter half of the decade. Integrate this rage with the ease of offering celebs immediate feedback through social networks, and you have a best dish for pushback if a celebrity who has actually declared to be a feminist in the media does not back that assertion up with action.
” You can’t get away with a dumb, pithy meaning of feminism and anticipate to get a cookie for it [anymore],” Lawson stated. “You need to be able to speak about it in a more informed, thoughtful, action-based way, or everyone is going to come for you.”
This feedback loop can be used to embarassment stars into more responsible engagement with political problems, and can also be a method of education itself.
Simply take a look at Kim Kardashian West, whose political awakening in the latter half of the decade began due to the fact that she was “scrolling through Twitter” and came upon the story of Alice Marie Johnson’s fight for clemency. For years, Kardashian West has been the topic of is-she-a-feminist debate. And while there are certainly many things to slam about Kardashian West’s individual brand name ( especially with regards to her family’s blindspots about race), she has become an intriguing example of a star who has not simply talked, but done
Kardashian West started the years seen as a “famous for absolutely nothing” truth star, and ends it as a bonafide company mogul and a surprisingly efficient advocate for jail reform She is even in the procedure of getting a law degree, with strategies of taking the bar in 2022.
” I just felt like the system could be so various, and I wished to combat to repair it, and if I understood more, I might do more,” Kardashian West informed Vogue previously this year when explaining her choice to start a four-year apprenticeship.
And After That there’s Swift, who had actually invested years hyping her feminist awakening and her growing lady team, but had actually stayed resistant to being overtly political, even when the stakes were high. After she published an Instagram advising people to enact November 2016 without backing a candidate, she was roundly criticized. The exact same happened when she tacitly endorsed the January 2017 Women’s March in a tweet without going to.
” As a fan of yours, this is some bullshit,” tweeted one girl “You do not get to pick when feminism advantages you.”
Before the 2018 midterm elections, Swift course corrected, freely backing a Democratic Senate candidate in her home state of Tennessee She acknowledged that she had actually “been reluctant to publicly voice my political viewpoints, but due to several occasions in my life and worldwide in the previous 2 years, I feel really differently about that now,” citing her commitment to eliminating for LGBTQ rights and against gender discrimination and systemic bigotry. She also contacted her fans to educate themselves and register to vote.
” Whether fans align themselves with her political leanings or not, Swift’s declaration assists rectify one of her biggest contradictions as a star,” composed Maeve McDermott over at USA Today at the time, “that she’s promoted for feminism, the LGBTQ neighborhood and the #MeToo motion, making progressive suitables central to her public personality, while declining to share her celebration association or endorse particular prospects.”
Which brings us to Me Too. First coined by Tarana Burke and after that promoted as a hashtag by Alyssa Milano in the wake of installing claims against Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, the Me Too motion is probably the single most potent force in moving celeb feminism out of the world of one-liners and into the world of action.
Because the movement initially focused on the show business, with A-List starlets like Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Beckinsale, Mira Sorvino and Salma Hayek all speaking up, the fight against unwanted sexual advances in the work environment became inextricably connected to celebrity.