This month’s Feminist Fashion Blogger group post is about feminists in the media. It’s timely; I was reading the June edition of Glamour, the F-word was printed twice, in two interviews by two very different women.
The first instance was in an interview with Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. Rachel is asked (by Katie Couric) if being gay influences what topics Maddow chooses to cover on her show. Maddow smartly replies that she’s never done the show as a straight person. The interview turns to how being a woman (in general) might influence the stories they cover.
Rachel responds with, “But if you were a feminist dude, maybe you’d make the same decisions. And if I were a pro-gay-rights straight person, maybe I’d make the same decisions, too. I don’t feel there’s anything about my experience of being gay that gives me more insight into “don’t ask, don’t tell,” for example. What does, is my understanding of the military. (p. 171)”
Later, in an interview with cover model Oliva Wilde, I read the second instance. Wilde, an actress, is talking about how she never wanted to become a journalist like her parents, Leslie and Andrew Cockburn. She goes on to say, “I can’t tell you how profound it’s been to realize that [my mother] is so within me…She’s gorgeous, and she taught me that a real feminist doesn’t apologize for her beauty. You can be a sexy, gorgeous woman, and be the smartest person in the room. (p. 186)”
Several things about these quotes made me smile. First, Glamour is interviewing smart women who unabashedly use the F-word. Second, by saying “if you were a feminist dude” Maddow raises the idea that feminism is open to everyone. It’s said casually, and in a positive tone that I hope will help readers of the magazine accept the idea of feminism in all forms (if they don’t already).
Finally, Wilde is a different type of role model for young feminists. She is reconciling the different parts of one’s self and saying you don’t have to look or act a certain way (or it’s okay if you do) to be a feminist. For readers who might think being feminists means giving up dresses and nail polish, I think Olivia subtly changes that perception.
Perhaps both of these mentions are incidental, but I found it encouraging and refreshing to read about these two women and see in print that they’re not afraid to speak honestly about feminism.
For everyone else’s posts about feminists in the media, check out the FFB blog.