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"Are you a feminist?"

For better or worse, it's a question an increasing number of Hollywood starlets are asked these days. And there is, indeed, a "worse" side  — oftentimes, it's sadly just low-hanging clickbait from journalists who posit it exclusively to female celebrities without preamble or explanation.

But there are positives born from the question, as well. For starters, the fact a celebrity's stance on feminism is considered clickbait is, in a weird way, encouraging. The writer's intentions may be commercial, but dually, it means discussions of feminism are now mainstream enough to be thus promoted. And that's something society flat-out hasn't seen before. Additionally, their answers create opportunities to clarify and circulate the term's truest meaning. 

Sure, it'd be just nifty if the bulk of female celebrities proudly self-identified as feminist, thus making the ideology that much more accessible in our celeb-obsessed society. But if they aren't feminist, fine, everyone is entitled to their own dogmas (Kendall Jenner, coincidentally, is an ace example of how to articulate that). What tends to be noteworthy, though, is what these women say AFTER denying they're feminist. Generally, it's either listing their *actual* beliefs, which happen to be concordant with the definition of feminism, or citing a range of well-worn stereotypes. 

They shouldn't be harshly criticized for sharing these views, as again, most were prodded by agenda-ridden journalists. Instead, their words can be a reminder that popular misconceptions about feminism persist, and serve as an educational moment as we — calmly, thoughtfully — disprove them. 

Below, here are 13 female celebrities whose definitions of feminism are a wee off. 


Kim Kardashian West

When asked about her stance during the BlogHer 16 conference in L.A., Kardashian said, "I don’t like labels. 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."

First of all, the fact Kardashian relied on the "free the nipple" trope to illustrate how she ISN'T a feminist is super interesting, given she framed her own topless photos with empowering, body-positive rhetoric. Secondly, boiling down feminism to a "bra-burning"-type stereotype is a real miss.


Sarah Jessica Parker

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Like Kardashian, a lot of people already considered SJP a feminist. But in Marie Claire's September issue, she revealed that's not the case

"I am not a feminist. I don’t think I qualify. I believe in women and I believe in equality, but I think there is so much that needs to be done that I don’t even want to separate it anymore. I’m so tired of separation. I just want people to be treated equally."

I'd personally love to have an actual discussion with Parker — not just bait her for a clickable quote — about why she doesn't believe she qualifies. Her belief in equality certainly does! Her emphasis on separation is also interesting, given that feminism is truly for everyone. 


Evangeline Lilly

While promoting "The Hobbit," Lilly told HuffPost Entertainment that when it comes to feminism, she doesn't even like the word. 

"I’m very proud of being a woman, and as a woman, I don’t even like the word feminism because when I hear that word, I associate it with women trying to pretend to be men, and I’m not interested in trying to pretend to be a man. I don’t want to embrace manhood, I want to embrace my womanhood."

As alarming as these words are to hear, it's important to remember Lilly isn't the only one to feel this way. The idea that feminist women are "trying to be men" has plagued empowered women since before the term was even coined. 


Kaley Cuoco

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The "Big Bang Theory" actress had this to say to Redbook when still married to Ryan Sweeting:

"I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around... I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that’s because I’ve never really faced inequality.  I cook for Ryan [her husband] five nights a week. It makes me feel like a housewife. I love that. I know it sounds old-fashioned, but I like the idea of women taking care of their men."

I personally can't cook more than pancakes, but if you find joy in making food for the people you love, cool! Good for you! That doesn't mean you can't be feminist. You can also be a nurturing person who enjoys caring for others and be feminist, but suffice it to say, that isn't rooted in gender. 


Shailene Woodley

Woodley had a lot of thoughts on the subject in an interview with Time Magazine

"I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.  With myself, I'm very in touch with my masculine side. And I'm 50 percent feminine and 50 percent masculine, same as I think a lot of us are. And I think that it is important to note. And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn't work either. We have to have a fine balance. My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism. I don’t know how we as women expect men to respect us because we don’t even seem to respect each other. There’s so much jealousy, so much comparison and envy. And 'This girl did this to me and that girl did that to me.' And it’s just so silly and heartbreaking in a way."  

A. Loving men and being a feminist are not, I repeat NOT, mutually exclusive. 

B. Feminists are not trying to "take down" men. It's about equality, not dominance. 

C. Like Woodley, a lot of people want to substitute words like "sisterhood" or "humanism" for feminism, and much of the driving force behind that is that feminism isolates certain groups. And it shouldn't. In its current incarnation at least, it's definitely meant to be an inclusive movement. 


Salma Hayek

Hayek's stance is an especially confusing one. She's a co-founder of Chime for Change, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for women's global education, health, and justice. She spoke to People about her ambition to empower women, saying she's helped instill that ambition in her daughter by teaching her about Malala Yousafzai and women's global reality. And yet, she doesn't identify as a feminist. 

"I am not a feminist," she told the magazine. "If men were going through the things women are going through today, I would be fighting for them with just as much passion. I believe in equality." 

Yup, Salma. Us feminists believe in equality, too. 


Lana Del Rey

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The "Born to Die" singer told Entertainment Tonight that feminism just doesn't interest her. 

"For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept. I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested... My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants."

To say feminism, a movement dedicated to addressing the inequality and oppression so many women face today, just "isn't interesting" is a pretty privileged standpoint. If you're not directly facing any oppression (that you're cognizant of, at least) in your life, thus freeing you to center your focus on outer space, awesome. Let's also acknowledge that isn't the majority experience, shall we?


Meghan Trainor

"I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I’m down for my first opportunity to say something to the world to be so meaningful. If you asked me, ‘What do you want to say?’ it would be, ‘Love yourself more.’" 

The Billboard article this quote is pulled from is actually a prime example of journalists using the question as a clickbait-monger. In it, Trainor talks a lot about her struggle for body acceptance, and yet this one quote became the article's headline: "Meghan Trainor: I Don't Consider Myself A Feminist." SMDH. 

That said, it's interesting that Trainor doesn't see loving and accepting herself as a feminist concept, because in my view, it definitely is. It's like Audre Lorde says: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."


Carla Bruni

The model and singer told Vogue Paris she doesn't see a need for contemporary feminism.

"My generation doesn't need feminism. There are pioneers who opened the breach. I'm not at all an active feminist. On the contrary, I'm a bourgeois. I love family life, I love doing the same thing every day."  

Bruni's words are evocative of that age-old stereotype, that being a feminist means you can't also be a mom content with domestic life, and that simply isn't true. A lot of people also believe the need for feminism died with the second wave, and that we're living in a post-sexism society. Again, untrue. 


Demi Moore

Moore gave the whole "I'm not a feminist, I'm a humanist" line to Metro back in 2008, and hasn't spoken on the subject since. 

"I am a great supporter of women, but I have never really thought of myself as a feminist, probably more of a humanist because I feel like that’s really where we need to be."

Interestingly, a lot of people substitute "feminism" for "humanism" without perhaps fully understanding the latter's connotation. Rather than simply a way of saying you support human rights, it actually commonly refers to a philosophy beginning in the Renaissance that placed emphasis on human matters in place of divine ones. And at that time, of course, "human matters" meant the concerns of white men. So for those who like to advocate humanism over feminism because they believe the former to be more totally inclusive, what they're saying is actually pretty ironic. 


Kelly Clarkson

The "Stronger" singer ironically balked at the term to Time Magazine because it's "too strong."

"I wouldn't say [I'm a] feminist - that's too strong. I think when people hear feminist, it's like, 'Get out of my way, I don't need anyone.' I love that I'm being taken care of and I have a man that's a leader. I'm not a feminist in that sense."

Le sigh. In Cuoco's case, she wasn't a feminist because she liked taking care of her then-husband. Now Clarkson is saying she isn't a feminist because she enjoys being the one who's taken care of. 

Significant others SHOULD take care of each other — that's a huge part of what being in a relationship is! It doesn't whatsoever mean you aren't a feminist. 

(In 2015, Clarkson clarified her remarks to The Huffington Post, saying she had issues with the negative connotations surrounding the word "feminism," but she "still values its definition.") 


Carrie Underwood

The country singer said she wouldn't identify as feminist because of it's "negative connotation."

"I wouldn't go so far as to say I am a feminist, that can come off as a negative connotation. But I am a strong female."

Underwood pretty much summarizes why most women reject feminism, even while simultaneously asserting their strength as a woman. For so long, the term has been a source of anxiety for a lot of women due to those "negative connotations" — namely, the same old stereotypes about being angry, man-hating, and hairy. 


Lady Gaga

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Gaga told the Los Angeles Times back in '09 she wasn't a feminist because she "loves men."

"I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture - beer, bars, and muscle cars."

If you've made it this far in this list, I don't think I need to re-explain why her words contains a fundamentally inaccurate view of feminism. Thankfully, though, the "Born This Way" singer has since revised her tune, and was strongly vocal about it in a 2014 interview with U.K.'s The Times.

“I’m certainly a feminist. A feminist to me is somebody that wishes to protect the integrity of women who are ambitious. A feminist in my opinion is somebody that regards that women have a strong intelligence and wisdom. That we are just as great as men — and some of us can be even better. I want to fight for the female performer, the female artist, the female musician. This is the type of feminist that I am: that women can be tremendous artists.”

THAT's more like it, Gaga! 

These days, Gaga is an outspoken advocate for women (especially fellow victims of sexual assault, like Kesha) and a testament to the fact that minds change. We evolve as we gain new insight. In fact, she's one of many female celebs — Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Lily Allen, to name a few — who once rejected feminism, but are now vocal supporters of it. 

It's important to remember that for most dissenters of feminism, like the women on this list, their negative viewpoints weren't arrived at internally. All of the aforementioned reasons cited for not being feminist are linked to common societal stereotypes designed to invalidate what the movement actually stands for. The more we circulate its true, illuminated meaning (even if the initial impetus is dumb clickbait), the less feminism will be viewed as a term loaded with "negative connotations."