Feminism is not the evil F-word it once was. Sure, plenty of people out there still claim to be "not feminist" even though they believe women deserve to be treated like people, which, okay, if that's the case, you're a feminist. Learn things. But for the most part, the world is starting to wise up and realize that women are people... people who have to deal with a lot of crap in their every day lives.
My response to this is duh. I've known this since I was ten years old and the boys at my middle school got to play flag football in PE class while the girls were forced to do Buns of Steel videos. What the actual fuck. This is a true story.
SNL also responded to this realization back in December when Saoirse Ronan and friends came out with the "Welcome to Hell" sketch (image featured above). Here's a sampling of some of the lyrics: "Cat's out of the bag, women get harassed all the time! And it's, like, dang, is this the world now? But here's a little secret that every girl knows. Oh, this been the damn world."
So yeah. We still need feminism, boys and girls. And every time we take two steps forward for women's rights, it seems like we take another two (thousand) steps backward. But here are some monumental steps forward and steps back for feminism that have happened recently in pop culture (because pop culture is what this blog is about, y'all).
+1 For Feminism: Beychella
You knew Beyoncé had to be on this list, so I figured I might as well get it out of the way first. Beyoncé has long been a proud feminist and an advocate for women's rights and Black rights. She's also basically the Queen of #BlackGirlMagic. But Beyoncé amped it up to a whole new level when she headlined Coachella this year. Rolling Stone covers the highlights of the show here, but most importantly, Beyoncé made the audience very aware of the fact that she was the first black woman to ever headline Coachella ("Ain't that 'bout a bitch?" she said). As a woman, if you don't feel empowered after watching clips from this performance, then I don't know what to do for you.
+1: Natalie Portman at the Golden Globes
The Oscars and The Golden Globes were like the female version of a dick measuring contest this year. Which woman could be the most woke? Which woman could be the most feminist? While that's generally great and all, a lot of it was exhausting and more of a grab for good publicity than anything else. My favorite moment of feminist ranting was one of the quickest, but it also seemed to make the men in the audience the most uncomfortable, so I would call that a win.
Gulp your Moët Champagne too loud and you might have missed it, but when Natalie Portman was presenting the award for Best Director, she threw this bit of shade: "And here are the all-male nominees." Burn.
-1: Fifty Shades Freed
In all fairness, I did go see this movie, and even worse, The Book Squad podcasted about it, so maybe I am part of the problem. But how can I complain about how unfeminist something is if I don't see it for myself first? It's no secret that all of these movies/books are pushing really unhealthy ideas about what constitutes a consensual relationship, BDSM or not. But this final chapter seemed especially bad because of the ways it portrays marriage and how unhealthily two grown ass adults deal with an unexpected pregnancy. I could go on, but we've already done a whole podcast on it, so you should probably go listen to it. #SHAMELESSPLUG
-1: Turns Out Junot Diaz is a Misogynist
It's not that this revelation is surprising, as I mentioned earlier. Diaz has never been known for writing nuanced female characters, nor have his male characters ever treated the women in their lives with any respect. And yet, I'm extremely disappointed. Despite what the characters in his text do or do not do, Junot Diaz has always presented himself as a woke individual who speaks out about rights for immigrants, people of color, and yes, women. His Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao features a main character who does not fit into the machismo male role that many Latin American male characters seem to be forced into, and at least in this novel Diaz seemed to be commenting on issues of masculinity and gender.
But guys. Junot Diaz is a dude, and if we've learned anything over the past year, it's that dudes, especially famous ones, will use their power to exploit people with less power. To read more about this story, just click any of the links in my opening paragraph. While you do that, I'll just be sitting here sighing loudly and grumbling about how disappointed I am.
This is another movie that we podcasted about, and while a lot of people have been complaining about the whitewashing of the cast, I call BS on this one. In our podcast episode, we go into detail about why this claim doesn't really make sense to us, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it here. What I will say is that I was completely blown away by this movie, and it's still my favorite movie I've seen this year. The cast is filled to the brim with kick-ass ladies shooting genetically modified bears and alligators for one another. The women are the heroes here, and they're smart, and accomplished, and they're all different. And no big deal is made out of the fact that they are women going on this mission. They just get the job done (kind of...). And yes, the cast is diverse, so back off my movie.
Everything about Atlanta: Robbin' Season is amazing, and Donald Glover is on fire right now, especially with his recent stint on SNL and the release of "This is America," which dropped during his SNL performance. Obviously, all of the messages Donald Glover is putting out about what it means to be black in America are important, but looking specifically at what Donald Glover is doing for feminism in his television show Atlanta, look no further than Van, played by the fabulous Zazie Beets.
Back during Season 1 of Atlanta, VICE published an article called "Van from Atlanta is One of TV's Most Fascinating Characters." In the article, VICE notes that even though the show primarily focuses on the male characters, Van is still a complex character, and she does get to star in her own Van-centric episode entitled "Value." It seems like in Season 2, Donald Glover really heard the positive response Van was getting from fans of the show, and she's definitely been featured more this season, much to the benefit of the show as a whole (not that it felt lacking last season, AT ALL. This show is just damn good, and why aren't you watching it?).
From Van's character, we see the difficulties of being a mother struggling to find work, and a woman trying to navigate a world where she is often only seen in relation to the man she is seeing or the child she is raising. For instance, in Season 2's "Helen" episode, one of Van's friends refuses to refer to her as anything other than "Lottie's mother," much to Van's annoyance. Of course, the show is also examining what it means to be a black woman in America. Van is mixed race, and in the episode "Helen," choosing between her German identity and her black identity is central to the storyline. "I chose white, and you chose black," her friend tells her, referring to the men they chose to date but also the racial identities with which they chose to align.
Clearly I have a lot to say about this show, and about Van, who is awesome.
-1: Dudes Getting Butt Hurt About The Last Jedi
Look, it's totally cool if you were not a fan of The Last Jedi. To be honest, it wasn't my favorite of the Star Wars franchise, and that's totally okay. Not liking the movie does not make you a woman-hating men's rights activist. But you know what does? Releasing a version of Star Wars: The Last Jedi that removes all of the women from the movie. Like that is some extra-ass MRA bullshit. Men, do you know how long we women have had to watch movies with little to no screen time for women? If that's your main gripe about this movie, that it had too many women in it, then you just might be a terrible person.
For more on this and other Last Jedi things, check out our podcast episode #shamelessplug again!
-5,000 - Arie was The Bachelor
No one wanted this. No one asked for this. Women all over the world begged for Peter Kraus to be the next Bachelor, but our voices were silenced. Sure, maybe he wasn't ready or whatever, but what about what the women want? Does no one care about us? Why did we have to watch this boring piece of unbuttered white toast for an entire season? When your catch phrase is "I love that," like that's the best you can come up with... oh jeez.
In all seriousness, the problem with Arie as The Bachelor from a feminist standpoint is that he is a known womanizer with a reputation for dating women MUCH YOUNGER than he is. And all of this ended up playing out on his season of The Bachelor as he quickly eliminated every woman over 30 (he's 37) and then completely disregarded the feelings of his final two by swapping his final pick like he was swapping his order at Panera Bread. And then he proposed to the second girl at the After the Final Rose ceremony? Talk about tone deaf.
Plus, I don't even want to get into how white this show is yet again. It's like they had one black lady as the Bachelorette after over a decade of a nearly all-white cast and that's supposed to fill their racial diversity quota for the next decade? I don't think so, ABC.
In general though, the fact that the dudes on this show are terrible and the women are way too good for them every time... I just... can't. Give these women better dudes.
+6,001 - We're Extending Our Moxie Giveaway!
Everyone! Don't forget we're giving away a copy of Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu to coincide with the discussion of our first book in our YA Book Club in Paradise series. Moxie is a book about feminism, and activism, and we can't wait to read it and discuss it. So get pumped! Enter our giveaway to win this book as well as a whole starter pack of feminist goodies. Start your own revolution!
Here's how you enter:
- Rate and review us on iTunes
- E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org (or use our contact form) and tell us why you're a feminist.
- That's it. Now wait to see if you are the winner. Please submit entries by May 20!
PLEASE ENTER THE CONTEST! WE LOVE YOU <3 #feminism #whoruntheworld