The obsession with labels is common in our culture – we like to put people in neat little boxes that tell us about their lives, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and political leanings. We love a good label. It makes us feel good because we eliminate the grey area. This person is “that” and therefore, “this”. Oh, what a simple world we live in where everyone happily lives in their little boxes that make sense and there are no weird, blurry areas or questions
Unfortunately (or, fortunately?) that’s not reality and labels don’t accurately describe or capture a person’s identity. People get especially riled up when others try to shirk the labels that others would so love to give them.
Kim Kardashian has been in the news lately for saying she’s not a feminist during a BlogHer 16 conference in LA: “I do what makes me happy and I want women to be confident and I’m so supportive of women… But I’m not the ‘free the nipple’-type girl.” There has been a backlash against her for not embracing the term, ‘feminist’. In fact, there is an entire Buzzfeed article refuting her claim that she’s not a feminist.
There’s a long tradition of celebrity women saying they aren’t feminists and following it up with associations they have with the radical fringe of the movement. So, it’s not surprising Kim Kardashian has distanced herself from what she views as a militant nudist organization. But, what is an unpleasant surprise are the critics trying to force her into backtracking.
It’s ironic that people who care about the principles of feminism, a movement that arguably helps women (and men and nonbinary people!) shed their socially prescribed roles, are so obsessed with making sure people identify as feminists. It’s much more important to live out those principles and support fellow women.
Of course, it would be awesome if more people – especially those in the public eye – weren’t scared to identify as “feminist” and had a clear idea of what it means, both now and historically. But we aren’t there yet. Feminism has always had a fluid definition but a defining factor in the movement – throughout its existence – has been about CHOICE:
The choice to get married (or not) to a person/gender/race of your choosing. The choice to have a career (or not). The choice to be a mother (or not). The choice to be a wife (or not). The choice to SELF-IDENTIFY as you wish without imposing your choice on others.
I don’t care if Kim Kardashian identifies as feminist. You shouldn’t either.