Feminism in the Media

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.point of view

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.


Filed under Feminism

8 responses to “Feminism in the Media

  1. Hey there, I’m new to FFB and I enjoyed your post. I am elated to hear that the f-bomb is mentioned in such a mainstream publication, and not in a way that demonizes it. I teach an Intro to Women’s Studies class, and I am always alarmed by how many students have never heard of the word feminism, or have only heard the stereotypical, pejorative stereotypes associated with it. http://powerfemme.blogspot.com/

  2. I get Glamour, and I thought it was nice to see the magazine discussing feminism in a positive light.

  3. I’m a very proud feminist and people are surprised to hear it, like it’s a bad word. I’m hopeful that positive mentions in the media will make it less scary. It’s just equal rights for all genders, people!


  4. Change of worldview systems moves slowly but there is evolution… I’m glad to hear that this change of public discourse about feminism is happening, and I believe that we as a generation will continue to make it happen – yay!

  5. Great post, Jean! I think it is so funny how people act like “feminist” is a bad word. OR will say things like, “I’m not a feminist, but I think that [insert feminist statement here}]”. Feminist means you believe in equal rights for women. That’s all it means. There is nothing in there about who holds doors open for whom, or your sexual persuasion, or even your gender! You believe in equal rights for women. That’s it! Is that so hard to understand??

  6. Thanks all! I’m happy to hear from more proud feminists (and fashionable ones at that!).

    It’s disappointing that some students haven’t even heard the word! Good opportunity to educate without having to dispell myths and negative stereotypes, at least.

    I agree: Equal rights for all. It’s not such an extreme view, is it?

  7. Good old Glamour, eh?

    That’s usually the way the media is so successful at manipulating the truth about feminism – we spend so long having to speak up for what are essentially equal human rights that it’s hard to go beyond that and get stuff done. It would be great to see feminism normalized to such a degree that it’s discussed without shudders…!

  8. Great post! I think it’s really good that feminism came up in Glamour and I love that Rachel Maddow talked about feminist men. I agree with Mrs. Bossa that if you identify as a feminist, you have to do so much explaining… even here in the Bay Area, which is very liberal, some people are afraid of the F-word!

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