What do I know about Popular Feminism?
If you ask what popular feminism looks like, it looks like a fallen world with a bunch of bickering women trying to justify what they want and who should be the new leader of the fallen world. Right now popular feminism is theoretical approach which is hard to tame and understand. It is defined and justified sometimes by female celebrities with no academic scholarly back up. Popular feminist to me is a feminist who partakes in a debate with no preparation at all.
Popular feminism, from what I believe, changes the definition of feminism in a sense that it becomes popularised and commercialised. Popular feminism becomes more of an/ for entertainment, losing its definitive purpose of the act of gaining equality for women. Some neoliberals claim that the undoing of feminism is due to having achieved equality for women in the western world. Some say that the undoing of feminism is due to popular feminism, and to an extent I agree with this, and I will show you why.
One reason why I believe that popular feminism is causing the undoing of feminism is due to the fact that a number female celebrities that claims to be feminist, come into feminism without any theoretical or academic evidence. Some female celebrities like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé claim to be feminists without having studied feminism fully before justifying their views. Let’s not overshadow Emma Watson, who works for the United Nations to support women. And I am not dismissing Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, and yes they do have a significant impact for women in the US, but there is little evidence of them proving they have done research to see which area needs empowerment for women.
Feminism in 21st century also feels overdone. With everything in the Western world already achieved for women, it is visible that feminism will be undone unless feminists begin to apply their focus outside of the western world and more in developing countries that still suffer from inequality for women. For example, in Saudi Arabia, it’s still illegal for women to drive. In Asia, girls are still forced into marriage by the age of 18. In The Challenge ‘For Western Feminism in the 21st Century’, blogger MsAfropolitan claims that,
“the west is the world region that has accumulated the most economic, cultural and political influence. This “columbusing” applies to global social justice movements as well, unfortunately. Thus, if western feminism does not take its gaze out of its own navel and influence the movement with a re-politicised energy we will all loose.”
What MsAfropolitan argues here is that Western Feminists groups should refocus their impact outside of the western world as the western region has accumulated the most economic, cultural and political influence. Because they are still focusing on a place that has already been liberated, there is this act of undoing, causing feminism to collapse within itself.
In Robin James’s Resilience and Melancholy: Pop Music, Feminism, Neoliberalism, James focuses on the production of crisis and how it is resolved. He approaches feminism with a Neoliberalist view and gives an example through music to help justify how a form of crisis is solved. However, the example I’m going to use for my blog is Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball. In the song, Miley Cyrus goes through a crisis in which she fails to resolve. During the chorus, she sings,
“I came in like a wrecking ball,
I never hit so hard in love,
All I wanted was to break your walls,
All you did was wreck me,
Yeah, you wreck me”
The chorus seems to suggest that her plan was to “wreck” his wall, however, his wall is what wrecked her instead. Her song seems to claim that the crisis has come from nothing, “I never meant to start a war/ I just wanted you to let me in/ And instead of using force/ I guess I should’ve let you win”. What is troubling is how the lyrics claims that she should’ve let him win, however, if she lets him win, then she loses. Therefore, winning or not, it seems that Miley Cyrus, in the song, has put herself in a catch 22 situation where, she cannot overcome the crisis. It’s either she loses by letting him win or win yet lose him.
Unlike EDM, Wrecking Ball during the bridge fails to overcome crisis. Instead of soaring like how EDM usually goes ballistic after the bridge of any of his song, during the bridge of Wrecking Ball, the song goes quiet before returning to the conflating and contradicting chorus. Relating it back to feminism, it is suggested that like how Miley Cyrus in the music video fails to overcome her crisis, popular feminism fails to overcome its crisis. Popular feminism fails to regulate itself. It does not capitalise on crisis.
- MsAfropolitan, The Challenge For Western Feminism in the 21st Century, 2016, http://www.msafropolitan.com/2016/01/the-challenge-for-western-feminism-in-the-21st-century.html
- Miley Cyrus, Wrecking Ball, Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC
- Robin James, Resilience and Melancholy: Pop Music, Feminism, Neoliberalism, (Zero Books, 2015)