Feminism may be on trend, but it’s still a long way from including every single woman in its message
As you fight for your right to balance home and promotions and babies and unforgiving beauty standards, it is worth remembering this one really important fact.
You know who can’t afford to ‘lean in’? Your domestic helper, who works all day without access to childcare, a supportive spouse or any kind of maternity leave whatsoever.
The good news is that ‘feminism’ is on trend- the most fashionable actresses (and the most charming actors) are declaring themselves feminist, and even the erstwhile bastions of Unrealistic Expectations- the women’s magazines- are getting into the game. The bad news is that most of what we refer to as feminist agitation today refers to privileged women like us quibbling over equal wages, an equitable work environment, and the right to eat that extra cupcake.
And this is not to denigrate these demands (all valid, and perfectly reasonable), but to sort of say “I agree” sotto voce, to this article in The Independent, which worries that Feminism is losing its egalitarian roots.
The article looks at the recent Elle Campaign that sells T-shirts with the catchy slogan “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” , proceeds of which go to the Fawcett Society- one of whose positions is to push for the criminalisation of the purchase of sex- a stance that feminists continue to debate over. Not to mention the exorbitant price of these shirts. As the article notes:
Ironically, this means that the women who need feminism the most probably won’t even be able to afford these overpriced shirts and jumpers, reinforcing the image of mainstream feminism as open only to those who have the capital to gain access to it, again usually white, wealthy cis women.
Closer home, tonally deaf campaigns like #VogueEmpower which emphasise “Ladke Rulate Nahin Hai“, trade in images of only affluent urban families, and worse- send across a muddled message about gender roles in the society.
So on the one hand, kudos to the celebrities who are willing to espouse feminism, and to the media houses who are beginning to spend a tiny fraction of the millions they’ve spent in creating unreasonable standards of femininity, towards addressing some of those wrongs.
But at the same time, for feminism to really succeed, we will need to empower more than just the richest and most educated into equality. For feminism to be a tsunami and not just a designer wave, it needs to be more inclusive. As the writers say:
Celebrity feminism’s catchy slogans and meaningless commitments might seem the way forward, but we need to look beyond the shiny packaging.
Read more here.