I am so sorry I have been absent the past two meetings. Unfortunately I missed some really amazing ones that hopefully you all attended and can cherish. I plan on making it up to those of you who didn’t with all the Beyonce gifs ever.(All the gifs I got from beyoncegifs.tumblr.com. There is such a site, and you should go follow them for obvious reasons.)
Speaking of Beyonce that was who our last meeting was about! I mean mainstream feminism; although the presentation did start with this:
Let’s get real though, there is more to mainstream feminism than Beyonce. Mainstream feminism is really just celebrities, current advertisers and schools of thought from these and about them all bubbling into a delicious, palatable feminism that is sexy and current. It by no means is the only, or end all be all feminist thought/theory. It is fun, and viral on social media platforms though which means it is usually a person’s introduction to feminism. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, although I’ll discuss why it is important that everyone branch out from this particular brand of feminism.
Let’s start with some common criticisms of this pop feminism. First of all, it is extremely unfair to women of color. There is a lot of white elitism in current mainstream feminism, a valid criticism when you take a look at the treatment of say, Miley Cyrus versus Rhianna. Or Iggy Azalea versus Nicki Minaj. Basically one will always be empowered and sexy while the other is trashy, slutty, and “too over the top.” Many feminists unfairly target women of color as being to provocative, not realizing they are using patriarchal frameworks to discern what is and isn’t “acceptable.”
This leads into the white savior feminists; Lena Dunham, Emma Watson, Taylor Swift. All are self-proclaimed feminists, which believe me is a positive step forward. However, they also all tend to come from the same middle-to-upper class upbringing; which means they have very similar opinions on current feminists issues, giving feminism in general a white-washed feel. The pay gap and women in STEM/film/gaming/etc industries are important issues, but when women of color are dying because of police brutality, lack of heath care or higher rates of domestic violence; we need to make sure these women have a place to speak out their issues as well.
This brings me to my final, and most central criticism. Beyonce, Lena, Nicki and Emma are all wonderful celebrities. Without personally knowing them, I would say that they all have a generally good grasp of feminism. But at their core, they are celebrities. They are here for you to buy their records, watch their TV shows and go see their movies in theaters. They do not research these issues thoroughly, nor did they pursue higher education to broaden their viewpoints. In most cases, they don’t have the lived experiences to talk about most women’s issues. They are on a different plane then most of the world gets to see. That is why we need to stop turning celebrities into feminist icons and start turning feminist icons into celebrities. It’s great to hear how more of the populations understands that feminism isn’t just about man-hating. But when it comes to listening to women who can help inform you about serious topics with a feminist lens, it’s time to turn to bell hooks, Melissa Harris-Perry, Jessica Valenti or Ann Friedman.
So, next week we have Emily Best, founder and CEO of Seed and Spark coming to talk about her life, film, feminism and anything she wants to talk about! So don’t miss it! P.S. There will be free food!