Today, feminism is painted as a dirty word. A muckraker word, fresh off of the tongue of some hairy-armpitted, man-hating, red-eyed feminist hippy-dippy. Now I apologize for the overload of hyphens, but we all know that this mindset is commonly held by our generation. Many see the feminist movement as over-dramatic and uselessly prolonged by the feminists of today; just another excuse to whine, right?
Apparently these anti-feminists don’t realize just how much women have left to fight for.
Apparently they don’t know about those women in the Middle East who get stoned or attacked with acid.
Apparently they don’t know that 1 in 5 women will experience an attempted or completed rape.
Apparently they don’t know that laws are proposed every day in the United States to control a woman’s right to her own body, while absolutely none are made to control a man’s.
Apparently they don’t know that women only occupy 18.5% of Congress, 20% of the Senate, and 18% of the House- even though the population of the United States in 2013 was 50.8% female.
Apparently they don’t know that women, even if they are equally qualified, only make 77 cents to a man’s dollar.
Apparently they don’t know that less than half of all rapes are reported, and that in 31 states, convicted rapists can sue for custody and visitation rights.
Apparently they don’t know just how blatantly women are over-sexualized in the media until they are viewed as nothing more than objects.
Apparently they don’t know jack.
But, thank the Lord, some pop artists today DO know a little something about feminism. Let’s take Meghan Trainor’s latest hit song All About That Bass as an example. Her lyrics speak for themselves when she declares, “I see the magazines working that Photoshop/ We know that shit ain’t real/ Come on now, make it stop.” Trainor basically calls out how ridiculous the expectations the media sets for women are, and the harmful effects those insane standards can have.
She advocates once more for self-love when she gives all listeners a verbal hug with the lines, “I know you think you’re fat/ But I’m here to tell you that/ Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” Trainor is clearly all about having healthy self-image, regardless of pressures from the media.
Even Lorde, the newly-famous teenage pop star from New Zealand, has already spoken out on the behalf of women, while many of the older players in the music industry continue to remain silent. In an interview with Tavi Gevinson, Lorde spoke for many young feminists by saying that “… the idea that feminism is completely natural and shouldn’t even be something that people find mildly surprising, it’s just a part of being a girl in 2013.”
She’s right. The fact that many young women are interested in having equal rights and equal pay shouldn’t be all that surprising. Lorde has also titled herself to be a very sex-positive person; she has no qualms with nudity or open displays of sexuality- much like the two major spokeswomen of feminism in the media today: Nicki Minaj and, of course, Beyonce.
Nicki Minaj is one of the most diverse public feminist figures of our day: she’s an immigrant, a black woman, a female rapper, a survivor, a sexual being, an artist, a storyteller, and one badass lady.
With the release of her song Anaconda, Nicki fired the (booty)shot heard round the world. She reclaimed I Like Big Butts and Baby Got Back in one fell swoop: rather than women being sexualized by the male gaze, Nicki took the reins and chose to sexualize her own body for her own pleasure.
She is all about desire, not objectification. Seduction, not subordination. Nicki is frank and obscene in her expression of her sexual wants and needs, and completely unapologetic. Minaj refuses to be trapped in the arcane stereotypical dynamic of slut vs. virgin, and is revolutionary in displaying her sexual dominance for the world to see.
Now on to Beyonce, the mother of many new feminists across the globe after the drop of her latest album Beyonce. Featuring such hit songs as Drunk in Love, Partition, and Blow, Beyonce is extremely sexually expressive. She owns her body, owns her desirability, and owns her sexuality, with no shame attached.
In her song Flawless, Beyonce preaches confidence to women everywhere through her lyrics “I woke up like this/ We flawless, ladies tell ’em/ Say I, look so good tonight/ God damn, God damn”. Her song even features a segment of a speech given by feminist Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which outlines some of the basic obstacles women face in society. “We teach girls to shrink themselves/ To make themselves smaller…But not too successful/ Otherwise you will threaten the man…I am expected to aspire to marriage…We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings/ In the way that boys are/ Feminist: the person who believes in the social/ Political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
Beyonce openly makes this speech the focal point of one of her major songs; fearlessly incorporating a powerful feminist message into an album she suspects will be heard by millions. She does not hide her involvement in the feminist movement, but acts on it and spreads her message of equality to young people everywhere.
At the 2014 VMAs, she pole danced as an expression of her control over her sexuality and her own body. She even created an iconic picture that will hopefully be seen in the feminism section of history books years from now, by unabashedly standing before a screen that read FEMINIST on stage in front of a very mixed audience and on live TV.
Another famous picture of her asserting her feminism has her dressed as Rosie the Riveter:
Although there are many out there that still believe the feminist movement to be an unnecessary farce, it gives me hope that pop icons are taking a stand on behalf of women everywhere. They are using the very media outlets that objectify women to spread a message about OWNING their gender, their femininity, their bodies, their independence, their worth, and their very humanity.
It makes me inexpressibly glad to see these iconic pop stars using their fame to further a good cause, a worthy cause, and a cause that needs all of the support it can get. All across the spectrum, thank you Beyonce, thank you Nicki, thank you Trainor, and thank you Lorde for giving me hope and for spreading a message that needs so very badly to be shared.