What Beyoncé Can Teach Us About Celebrities Being Labeled Feminists

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For many celebrities, dropping the F-bomb is a terrifying concept. Yes, I’m talking about being labeled a “feminist.” It seems like some female celebrities worry about being labeled a man hater or limiting their marketability at the box offices in some of the redder parts of the country. But now that Beyoncé, the queen of everything cool, has come out in defense of the label being put on her, we’re continuing to come a long way, baby.

In the past, Beezus has simply dipped her toes into feminist waters. In 2013, British Vogue asked her how she felt about the term, and Beyoncé looked at it a little bit like it was a moldy piece of bread you find in the refrigerator.

“That word can be very extreme,” she said. “But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.”

But in more recent situations, Beyoncé seems to be much more comfortable with the term. In a recent article in Out magazine, the much-adored Mrs. Carter stated her case for the F-bomb.

“Being that I am a woman in a male-dominated society, the feminist mentality rang true to me and became a way to personalize that struggle. But what I’m really referring to, and hoping for, is human rights and equality, not just that between a man and a woman,” she told Out Magazine. “So I’m very happy if my words can ever inspire or empower someone who considers themselves an oppressed minority.”

Some feminists are quick to hate on Beyoncé, saying her recent awakening is just a plan to sell more albums. And maybe it is. But until there are more public figures who aren’t afraid to say that they support feminism because they believe in equality, this is what we’ve got. Is it a strategic move? Sure. Is it better than nothing? Absolutely. And the idea that the biggest pop star in the world expressing feminism counts as a “strategic” move is pretty damn impressive.

Video Artist Elisa Kreisinger, who runs the popular remix site Pop Culture Pirate, says that Beyoncé is at the level where she can reveal herself to be a feminist without any backlash.

“In an attention-driven economy, female celebrities must align themselves with social concepts that are on-brand for their image,” says Kreisinger. “Someone like Beyoncé has the cultural capital to come out as a feminist while other celebrities don’t have much room for identity politics. I’m sure it’s a constant struggle and negotiation for the women themselves, but in the end, it’s the culture, it’s the game women in the industry must play. Don’t hate the player, change the game.”

While some famous women are proud to possess both the ideals and the label of feminism, there are many others who fear that putting the F-bomb near their name will damage their public identity, even though they may hold the beliefs that correspond with feminism. An example would be Drew Barrymore, who has no qualms about diving head first into the extremely male-dominated film world. Yet in the past when she was asked directly if she is a feminist, Drew doesn’t go for the word.

Until there are more public figures who aren’t afraid to say that they support feminism because they believe in equality, this is what we’ve got. Is it a strategic move? Sure. Is it better than nothing? Absolutely.

“Feminism scares me. It seems like it bashes males, and I like men. Why can’t it just be equality?” Drew once said. Hate to break it to you Drew, but feminism is equality.

Amy Poehler – the producer of Broad City, one of the most feminist shows on TV – has criticized the “Wait, no I’m not a feminist” trend among famous women.

“They go on to explain what they support and live by—it’s feminism exactly,” Poehler told Elle. “I think some big actors and musicians feel like they have to speak to their audience, and that word is confusing to their audience. But I don’t get it. That’s like someone being like, ‘I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.’”

While some women possess feminist ideals yet fear identifying with the F-bomb, some women are avidly anti-feminism. A good example is celebrity chef Giada de Laurentiis, who once told Redbook magazine that she makes sure not to “upstage” her husband, because then that’ll just send him running in the other direction.

“I think it can be hard for any man to sometimes be upstaged by his wife,” Giada said. “So when I’m home, I work very hard to be Todd’s wife and Jade’s mother. I have no problem going back to those traditional roles. All men want to be treated like kings in the relationship, and I think if women don’t indulge that sometimes, their men are likely to stray and look for someone that can give that to them.”

Let’s just say Giada won’t be on the cover of Ms. magazine any day soon. In addition to saying being subservient to one’s husband is the only way to be happy, Giada’s also assuming that her husband is so terribly insecure that he can’t be happy for his wife’s successes.

Also in the non-feminist club is Kirsten Dunst. “We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking — it’s a valuable thing my mom created,” Kirsten told Harper’s Bazaar UK. “I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work.”

The fear of being labelled a feminist prevents prominent women from identifying with the cause. But here’s the deal: There isn’t just one kind of feminism. If you look up the term in the dictionary, it’s defined as the “theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” So what exactly are we saying when we don’t want to be identified with this term? That equality is useless? The good thing is that whether or not you’re down with being a self-proclaimed feminist, all this talk surrounding celebrities and feminism means that a dialogue does exist. It means that the more often people are willing to open up and share their feelings on the issue, the more likely that true equality, in every sense of the word, is something we’ll eventually be able to achieve.