The Feminist Twerk
AfteAfter the burning of bras, craccracks in the glass ceiling, and that dance move, Rikki Hodge quesquestions the very definition of femfeminism today.
On a stage in front of impressionable fans, a worldwide television audience and a roomro full of professional peers, a woman grinds on a chair, twerks,t and then rubs up against her male co-performer.perfo The song lyrics are seriouslyserio controversial, majorly sexualised, and, arguably, arguably even abusive.
It’s Beyoncé.B She’s a feminist. feminist Now, we all know Bey is prop women's lib. Her latestlate self-titled album references referenc famed TEDx talk We ShouldShou All Be Feminist. She’s pennedpe a piece for
The ShriverShr Report titled “Gender Equality Is A Myth”! She’s a mother.m A wife. And universally universa renowned as a wowoman who does sexy in a waway that both girls and guguys admire. So, when she ddanced a rather stimstimulating “Drunk In LovLove” at the Grammys with her hubby, Jay Z, sshe went almost unscathed.un They were evenev glorified with the hashtag #powercouple. This is despite lyrics like, “I’m Ike Turner / Baby don’t play / Now eat the cake, Anna Mae,” referencing the domestic abuse of Tina Turner by her then-husband. But just five months prior, the same grinding/twerking/ rubbing formula was utilised by Miley Cyrus, and it brought on frenzied debate in the media (social and otherwise) about feminism and “slut shaming”. Then, when Miley announced she was “the biggest feminist in the world”, we all (this writer included) snorted coffee through our noses scoffing, “Say whaaa?” So just how can two female pop superstars give a pretty similar performance and receive completely different reactions?
The reason is simple: there no longer exists a clear definition of what it means to be feminist in 2014. The Oxford Dictionary depicts feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes” – but today feminism has become bigger than just this pursuit of equality. It’s an intricate, complex relationship of sisterhood – the same sisterhood that gets enraged when we hear of the continuation of genital mutilation, that sees absolute red when you’re called a ‘ho’ with the same nonchalant tone as ‘you stupid poohead’
back in primary school, and that eventually does what it’s stereotyped to do: turn in on itself with bitchiness. So did you hear? Miley Cyrus twerked, on a [then] married guy, looked like a little boy, and then called herself a feminist – pass it on! But is it unfeminist of us to judge Miley’s stageantics, when Queen Bey can seemingly do no wrong?
You Can’t Sit Here
There was once a time when the feminist club was vital – the fight was overwhelming and seemingly unwinnable.A team was needed to score small and momentous victories and, thanks to that team, we’re a helluva lot closer to equality than our corseted foremothers. We’re not dusting off our hands just yet, but the game plan’s ready for a switch-up. It seems counterproductive to make participants meet a certain criteria before being crowned a feminist. For example, we’re still at a point where if you choose to let your man be the master of the house, or express your sexuality in a way that makes others feel uncomfortable, you’re not welcome.
Fuelling The Fire
When unofficial fresh face of feminism Lorde publicly slammed Selena Gomez as an anti-feminist because of her song “Come & Get It”, we all clapped in agreement. Conversely, when Sunrise host Samantha Armytage went along with a pole-dancing joke from her male co-host David Koch, news and opinion website Mamamia jumped to her defence in a show of BFF protectiveness that actually backfired. How? They said she was victimised and too scared to stand up for herself against a man. But Armytage fought back, claiming she wasn’t a frail wallflower. She participated eagerly. So, have we gone from having to prove ourselves to men, to having to prove ourselves to women?
Julie Morris, president of the National Council of Women Australia, explains, “Young girls can be turned off by [feminism]. They see women being exactly what we are asking men not to be – howling down at them, screaming at those who disagree and misusing power for their own ends, rather than for the good of all,” she says.
We are still up against gender inequality. We live in a society where female schoolleavers are set to be trumped in the pay stakes by male peers and where those making abortion laws aren’t considering the reasons why a woman would need to have one. Those who paved the way are throwing their hands up every time some idiot starts a hashtag that targets a body part we apparently scrutinise (we’re looking at you #thighgap and #bikinibridge). But how are we supposed to work on these ongoing issues if the fabric we’re building from (that is, our support of each other) is being unstitched every single time we point a catty finger and call it pro-feminism?
With the current dialogue heading in this direction, it might be time to outgrow the you-can’t-sit-with-us attitude and move toward a more accepting platform, for all of our fellow sisters. Make it one that includes the bum-cheek flashers, the dedicated wives, the men, the glass-smashing career women, and girls who aren’t “feminist” because they’re pro-chivalry (and think they can’t be both). Let’s switch the feminist brand to one that’s akin to being kind, polite, and giving a damn about your fellow humans. Feminism isn’t just for the staunch activists, the socially-approvedsexy ladies à la Bey, or those who want what we’ve been told our predecessors fought for. It’s there for everyone – and it’s on our own terms.
If this is acceptable ...