• Mon, Mar 24 - 4:11 pm ET

9 Celebrity Women Who Don’t Really Understand What Feminism Means

Rules of Feminism Mean Girls

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It seems like every day we read a quote from a celebrity woman answering that classic interview question: “Are you a feminist?” To people who understand feminism and aren’t afraid to say they support it, it seems like a silly question to ask in this day and age. Assuming the celebrity believes men and woman are equal and should have equal rights, of course she’s a feminist. Because that’s what feminism is. But apparently we give celebrities too much credit, because a lot of them just don’t know what feminism is to begin with.

They usually show off this ignorance in one of two ways. Either they say outright that they’re not feminists… even though they then declare they believe exactly what feminism is all about. Or they say they are feminists, but then give a completely wrong definition for it. Here are nine celebrity women who could probably use a crash course in feminism. Lucky for them it’ll only take about 30 seconds and can be accessed through Google. Warning: Your face and palm with both be sore after your read this.

1. Katy Perry

Katy-Perry

(Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

What she said: “I used to not really understand what that word meant but now that I do, it just means that I love myself as a female and I also love men. I am woman… Hear me roar!”

I’ll give Katy credit for finally being willing to use the word “feminist” to describe herself after shying away from it previously. The only problem is that the definition she gives applies more to self confidence and/or sexual orientation. Nice job plugging her song title, though.

2. Kelly Clarkson

Kelly-Clarkson

(Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

What she said: “I wouldn’t say [I'm a] feminist, that’s too strong. I think when people hear feminist it’s just like, ‘Get out of my way I don’t need anyone’.”

No Kelly, that’s what you hear when you hear feminist. Just because some people misinterpret a word’s meaning doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself about it and use it confidently yourself. But while we’re on the topic of not needing anyone, what was “Miss Independent” all about then?

3. Farrah Abraham

Farrah-Abraham

(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

What she said: “What does that mean, you’re a lesbian or something?”

This is the kind of quote that my fear for humanity is made of. I didn’t even include the part where, when the interviewer asked if she’s a feminist, she initially answered, “I’m pretty feminine.” I don’t even think the word “feminist” has ever crossed her eardrum.

4. Selena Gomez

Selena-Gomez

(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

What she said: “I think she is super talented and I think it’s awesome. But I think at the same time that feminism and that specific thing is very sensitive because in my opinion it’s not feminism if you’re tearing down another artist.”

Lorde gave strong opinions last year about Selena and Taylor Swift’s music sending a bad message to girls. But according to Selena, Lorde can’t possibly be a feminist because feminism means you’re not allowed to criticize other women. That’s actually not the case at all. As long as you’re not criticizing someone because they’re a woman, calling people out is totally fair game.

5. Taylor Swift

Taylor-Swift

(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

What she said: “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”

Ah yes, the classic “guys versus girls” interpretation. As if we’re on the playground in kindergarten worried we’ll get cooties. The entire point of feminism is that women and men shouldn’t be pitted against each other, but rather be equal. The second part of Taylor’s comment is also troubling. It implies that women have to catch up to men, and if they don’t get equal opportunities or success it’s because they didn’t work hard enough.

6. Carrie Underwood

Carrie-Underwood

(Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

What she said: “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. My parents raised me to be pretty independent and I grew up – I have sisters but they’re a lot older than me – an only child. I feel like that contributes to how I handle myself and how I carry myself.”

Once again, here’s the infamous “negative connotation” approach. It’s great that Carrie is comfortable being independent and strong. If she thinks that makes her equal to men, then she’s a feminist, negative connotation or no.

7. Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah-Jessica-Parker

(Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

What she said: “I took a page from [the playwright] Wendy Wasserstein’s book. She said ‘I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist.’”

Here’s the classic “I’m gonna quote someone else because I’m nervous about stating my own opinion” approach. Taylor Swift is guilty of this too. It’s actually possible to be both a feminist and a humanist. They’re not mutually exclusive.

8. Lady Gaga

Lady-Gaga

(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

What she said: “I’m not a feminist – I, I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars…”

I might sound dumb for saying this, but I actually had more faith in Lady Gaga to understand feminism. She understands what makes someone throwing up on her artistic, but she won’t call herself a feminist? I’m so tired of this idea that feminism equals man-hating. Hating someone because of their gender is precisely what feminism seeks to counteract.

9. Shailene Woodley

Shailene-Woodley

(Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

What she said: “I love males too, though! I like to be a feminist, but I’m also a…maleist? What would you call that?”

I had a lot more faith in Shailene as well, but this quote is pretty disappointing. Feminism has nothing to do with sexual orientation or preferring one gender over the other. Assuming there’s a male counterpart to feminism totally misses the point. If she thinks we need to have a new word for the ideals of “feminism,” that’s one thing. But it comes across that she simply doesn’t get it.

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
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  • Lindsey Conklin

    these are just all SO cringe-worthy. it’s almost painful haha

  • Jessieface

    I think that with SOME of these, NOT ALL, but some (Taylor, Selena, Shailene specifically), the problem stems from asking girls who are young and naive and don’t understand what feminism is – because no one has ever sat down and explained it to them, if they are feminist. Not everyone is Lorde and wise beyond their years.

    • Kelly17

      Or maybe it’s because in some cases feminist are still viewed at negatively because the old stereotype is what is thought of when you say the word.

    • Jill O’Rourke

      I don’t think you need to be wise beyond your years to understand what feminism is. And the fact that so many older women still don’t understand is disheartening.

    • Jessieface

      Guys I didn’t mean to infer that this wasn’t problematic. OBVIOUSLY everyone on this list doesn’t know what feminism is – and that is a problem. However, I do find it more problematic when an older more grown woman – like say SJP – doesn’t know. I agree that everyone should be educated about feminism and what it means, but I think that asking a much younger person who probably didn’t complete high school (like Elizabeth below me mentions) and hasn’t been exposed to the idea of feminism is unfair. They perpetuate the negative stereotypes because no one has sat down with them and explained it to them. I agree with the article, I think education is key here. Let’s educate women about what feminism is before we ask them if they are a feminist. That’s all I meant.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Feminism is an ism and it cannot be sat down and explained.

  • Kaitlin Reilly

    Katy Perry’s interview is so ridiculous. Part of me wonders if maybe these women DO know what feminism means but are afraid of being attacked if they claim themselves as a feminist?

    • HB

      Bingo. It’s somehow still considered an aggressive term.

  • CMJ
    • Jill O’Rourke

      My thoughts exactly.

  • Linda Phan

    I think that sometimes women who thinks that they are more valuable then men call themselves “feminists” it creates the negative meaning to the word. However, as it was pointed out feminism is about equal rights. I’m not trying to defend them because some of the quotes are just ridiculous (Farrah Abraham, Selena Gomez..) but maybe we could cut them some slack because they meant it well like Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Unederwood and believe in equal rights.

    • Elizabeth Aspen

      I’m a feminist and even I have used the term ‘Feminazi’ on occasion. For instance, the gals over at Jezebel – feminazis. They espouse feminism, but when it comes down to it, they do not support the right of every woman to have an opinion of their own, only if it jibes with THEIR opinion. I don’t think feminists need to get all worked up over every single little thing, and read too much into something that’s not there. When I see behavior like that from a supposed “feminist” I know it has more to do with their own issues, and they’re projecting onto other women. And that to me, is a “feminazi”, not a feminist.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      More labels but I get what you are getting at.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      It’s not about equal rights at all.

  • Elizabeth Aspen

    Most, if not all, of these chicks are either very young, have never been to college, probably only graduated high school with the help of a tutor, and I’m sure have never even been exposed to the idea of feminism, and have spent most of their lives preparing for a career in show biz instead of preparing for the SAT’s. So I don’t think it’s an intelligence question as much as a complete ignorance question.

    • HB

      Good points!

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Kristen Stewart knows and she never went to college and was home schooled and has worked in her career since 9 years old. Jenni and Jill don’t really know either. It’s not about equality at all.

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  • J_Doe5686

    Most of these girls are so young to know or understand what feminism is. It’s not about sexuality or hating me, at least for me. But the feminist movement started decades ago and it has evolved as well with the meaning.

  • Geovanna

    shame on these amazing celebrities.. its sad they dont know the true definition of feminism… it would have been nice if at least one of them new the difference and actually said (having the courage) that they were feminists

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  • FemelleChevalier

    I don’t get Taylor’s explanation. Maybe it’s cultural gap, but working as hard as the guys doesn’t make sense to me.

  • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

    I don’t know what a feminist is exactly but here’s a famous one on why Bella Swan is a cutting edge feminist: I know Jill and Jenni won’t agree. http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/2012/08/hospitality-of-matrix-philosophy.html?zx=391ff6b01a64ddee Bella is at the end but it is all good including a definitive definition of feminism. Men can be feminists also you know. It’s not just about women.

  • Jenny

    I really wish Taylor would clear up what she said about being a feminist being she so obviously is one and she knows it. (Also, I seriously doubt Lorde and Lena Dunham would be such close friends with her if she wasn’t). I think I understand the sentiment behind what she said – she just didn’t word it very well.

    • Jenny

      I’m SO disappointed about Shailene, though. :(

  • Lucía

    Are you sure the Shailene quote is a legit one? Or even a recent one? ‘Cause I remember reading at least two interviews with her (from this year) in which the subject is approached, and what she said in them made a lot of sense. Like, she sounded like she knew what she was talking about.

    • Jill O’Rourke

      Yep, it’s legit and recent. There’s a video of it at the link.

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  • Anne

    This is so disappointing… I think that they actually think their ‘arguments’ are true and that’s a big problem. Besides, they are all grown woman its a shame they don’t know what it means. I don’t want to be mean, but there’s something called school and probably HISTORY class where you’ll learn this things. Feminism means equality not women domination and other stupidities that they are saying. It’s sad to see this lack of knowledge…

  • Joe

    9 celebrity women who don’t understand feminism? No. More like 1 butthurt feminist.

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