By Hannah Strader
I had never felt such a hot surge of anger than I did when my best friend uttered, “Beyoncé is the furthest thing from a feminist” during the 2014 MTV VMAs. Standing before the word “FEMINIST” lit stories high on a LED screen, all I could think of while studying the strong stance of the silhouetted pop star was how this woman had been the first person to make me realize what feminism really meant. And according to a survey done by Ms. Magazine, there’s proof in numbers that I’m not alone. Just from 2006 to 2012, the number of women calling themselves feminists has seen a 12 percent rise, due in part to pop culture. Still, there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the feminist movement. Many of us don’t understand what feminism is or why it’s important.
Feminism is the belief in equality between the sexes on points of social, economic, and political rights. Despite the plain clarity of the definition, there’s a haze of misunderstanding that shrouds the word. Even the likes of Lady Gaga, a well-known advocate of LGBT rights has been quoted as saying, ““I’m not a feminist! I love men!”
The misconception that feminism means hating men is just as ridiculous as the notion that supporting gay marriage will wipe out the existence of traditional marriages; that’s simply not how it works. There is no choice between men or women, gay or straight, and that is exactly the point. It’s about the equality between the two.
Beyoncé and her role in feminism is often criticized because she’s not shy about her sexuality. Because she’s so blatantly a sex symbol, people like to nit pick that she’s doing exactly the opposite of what is expected of women behind the feminist movement; prancing around in skimpy outfits and encouraging objectification. However, there’s something to be said about the way Beyoncé wields her sexuality like a weapon, making sure everyone knows that feminism doesn’t mean being conservative, it means being whatever you want. Just because Beyoncé sings about sexy rendezvous in the back seat of a limo does not mean she’s broken down to something as simple as a mindless object. There’s something about a woman as undeniably strong as Queen Bey embracing the fact that just because a girl likes sex, that doesn’t make her a lesser human being. It sends a statement.
Still, none of these things explain why feminism is making a comeback right now. In a society where being informed is starting to be seen as “trendy” instead of “nerdy”, taking a stance on a major political issue is just what all the cool kids are doing, and despite what all those hipster blogs on Tumblr say, we do need feminism. Otherwise, women will continue to be under-represented and have judgments forced on them by the likes under-informed men in legislation. What pop culture is doing right now is getting people to talk, which is where all change begins. By making feminism “cool”, the younger generation is getting informed, creating hope for equality in the futures of our own daughters.