• Fri, May 30 - 8:54 am ET

Pharrell Saying It’s Impossible For Him To Be A Feminist Will Make It Impossible For You To Stop Rolling Your Eyes

Pharrell Radio 1's big weekend Glasgow May 2014

Another day, another celebrity who says they’re not a feminist even though they totally support equal rights for women. Except this time it’s different because it’s Pharrell, a man, who’s saying it. Whereas it seems like every single female celebrity has been asked about feminism at one point or another, seeing it asked of celebrity men isn’t nearly as common. That might be because there’s a misconception out there, which Pharrell buys into, that men can’t be feminists for the simple fact that they’re men.

During an interview with the UK’s Channel 4 News, Pharrell commented, “I’ve been asked, am I a feminist?” He followed that up with this: “I don’t think it’s possible for me to be that.” Here’s his reasoning:

“I’m a man. It makes sense up until a certain point. But what I do is, I do support feminists. There’s injustices; there are inequalities that need to be addressed.”

That’s great, Pharrell! You know what’s also great? The fact that you totally can be a feminist, even if you’re a man. It’s so possible that we assumed you’d come out as one months ago when you expressed your crazy belief that men and women are equal. It’s not an exclusive club with a “NO BOYZ ALLOWED” sign on it. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We need more men who willing to call themselves feminists. Because if men aren’t afraid to call themselves feminists, maybe it’ll help take some of the stigma away from using that word and make it clear that it’s not synonymous with “man hater.”

Pharrell continued:

“I would love to see a woman run the country,” he said. “Historically, this world has been run by man. And what would a world be like if 75 percent our world leaders, our presidents and prime ministers, were female? What would that world be like? We don’t know, because we haven’t given it a shot. We’re too busy telling them what they can and can’t do with their bodies. Or, we’re too busy, you know, not allowing them to make the same amount of money that a man makes.”

You could argue that it’s more important that Pharrell supports these ideals than it is to label himself anything. But in addition to simply displaying ignorance, his hesitance to use the word only adds to the concept that “feminist” is something you have to be afraid to call yourself. And if people are afraid to call themselves feminists, it could lead people to become afraid to express their belief in feminism — in other words, in equal rights between women and men.

Of course, despite his belief that women should be world leaders and have reproductive rights and get paid the same, in the same interview he still defends his participation in “Blurred Lines”:

“Is it sexually suggestive when a car salesman says to a person who’s trying to buy a car, ‘I know you want it?’”

If he can’t understand the issues people have with that song and would equate trying to have sex with a woman with trying to sell someone a car, then alas, getting him to understand that men can be feminists might be too much for us to ask. Yikes.

(Photo: WENN.com)

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

    Ugh he’s so close to being someone I like but then he says things like that and won’t stop wearing that god awful hat.

    • Jill O’Rourke

      Ah, the hat. One of the great mysteries of our time.

  • Penelope

    I wonder if he believes that women can be presidents and such, but still should come home and cook for their husbands, keep house, child-rear, etc … you know, bc he’s a man.

    • Elizabeth Aspen

      If he’s like most men, yes. After all, I firmly believe the “Sexual Revolution” was invented by men for their own gain. What better way to get laid than to support women to own their sexuality and give it up to them? And men who actually do call themselves feminists call themselves that for the same reason – a one-way ticket to Panty Town.

    • Penelope


    • Dolly Smith

      Yeah, preach the repulsive & dehumanising belief that everything ‘most men’ do that might involve women is about ‘getting laid’.

    • Dolly Smith

      For men there are far easier routes to ‘panty town’ ( and we all know how lazy men are ) than allying yourself with a group of people whose defining characteristic is their assumed hostility towards the male sex, though some men do love a challenge…
      Presumably gay men calling themselves feminists do so in order to hook up with other gay men calling themselves feminists? Does your view of ‘most men’ include gay men? They are notoriously promiscuous…I ‘firmly believe that’.

      Perish the thought that men actually care enough about other people to not want sex as a reward for their efforts.

    • Korine

      Wait, this is a real thing people think?

  • Olivia Wilson

    His excuse for Blurred Lines is actually LOL-worthy. But like, at him, not with him.

  • agree with pharrel

    I’m going to sign out of my disqus account to say this but I get it. Until American feminism does more then just help white middle class/rich woman I will never ever call myself a feminist. Yeah sure they pay lip service to people of color (ugh I hate that phrase, we really need to come up with something better) but that’s all it is: lip service, never anything tangible.

    • Elizabeth Aspen

      Well, why don’t you come up with a solution instead of whining about it and crossing yourself off the feminist list? And while you’re at it, get to work on coming up with that new “phrase”.

    • agree with pharrel

      I wasn’t whining, just explaining my reasoning for not aligning with feminism. As for “coming up with a solution” I don’t think any intersectionality movement would be stronger having me in it, lol. However I totally support woman like Angela Davis, Kimberly Crenshaw, Patricia Collins, Mikki Kendall, and Flavia Dzodan, woman who are actually working to make intersectionality mainstream.

    • Dolly Smith

      You’re saying that the view that feminism has failed to do little more than pay lip service to Black women is ‘whining’? People call the NAACP ‘whiners’ too, don’t they?
      Your mistaken belief that feminism is some untouchable concept impervious to criticism is arrogant, as is your sarcastic comment about the poster’s dissatisfaction with the phrase ‘people of colour’, which she has every right to find problematic.

  • Alexis Rhiannon

    Oh…my god. What an idiot.

    • FauxRealFaux

      He is not an idiot.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Maybe not about everything, but I think his thoughts on feminism are pretty idiotic.

  • Elizabeth Aspen

    Yeah, a man can yap all he wants about our “injustices” but actions speak louder than words, and this guy lost me with the whole ‘Blurred Lines’ thing.

  • ugh

    ugh thank you reminding us that he was involved in “blurred lines”. that didn’t mean to come off as sarcastic, i swear! since “happy” blew up people kind of forgot about everything else. anyone involved in the 2013 date rape anthem of the year has no place to comment on the injustices of women unless it’s followed up with an apology.

  • Nbl

    I’m not going to lie, I hesitate to call myself a feminist. I don’t know if its because I grew up in an atmosphere of complete support no matter the gender, but to myself and those around me, men and women are complete equals. It’s not a feminist belief but a humanist one. I’m well aware of the sexual inequality in the world but so many people call themselves “feminist” but do so in ways that don’t support what I feel is the definition. The whole dressing sexy and acting sexual is feminism argument is a joke. If you want to embrace your sexuality, more power to you, buts its not a feminist thing. Sexual is a natural state for both genders and in most cases *miley cyrus* it’s not born of ideals but of the need for attention. The hypocrisy is disturbing as well. Go to Buzzfeed and you’ll see a million different articles calling out people for over sexualizing women next to an article ranking men’s bulges (I’m not kidding, that’s an article). The fight for feminism has gone from legitimate complaints about equal rights, social and professional standings, and intellectual standing to all about how a women dresses. For me, I’ll continue to fight for my equal rights as a women but until this fad of hyper-sexualism being labeled as feminism is over, I dont think i can call myself a feminist. And for anyone out there looking for good news on this front, the US Navy is now starting to allow women to join to the SEALS. From what I understand, the qualifications and training for women will be equal to the men (some difference made in terms of physical training, biology just can’t be changed, but same intelligent and mental testing).

    • FauxRealFaux

      At this time, women are not allowed to join the Rangers, Special Forces, Green Berets, or the Navy Seals. There has been some pressure to do so but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

    • Nbl

      My friend is the Navy and a few of her female colleagues were told they were able to apply for the SEALS. They are in the process of looking for female candidates. My friend didn’t get in but she’s going to keep trying.

    • FauxRealFaux

      Haven’t heard that from my brother, who is in the Navy, he is a lifer. I did look online and saw something about the Pentagon considering allowin women to apply to the Seals in 2016.

    • Nbl

      Maybe they’re in the beginning process, looking for candidates and stuff. It’s possible they want to build up a squadron of female SEALS before opening it up fully? I’m navy brat so give your brother my love and respect. What does he do in Navy if you don’t mind me asking?

    • FauxRealFaux

      He is in the engineering field. I’m an Army brat and Army Vet my knowledge of Navy jargon is limited to trying to translate their language to that of a “grunt”.

    • Nbl

      Lol I’m pretty sure any officer will tell you the engineers and Seabees are probably the most important of the military. The different jargons are confusing to me. I only know the navy ones and some marine. (My fiancé is a marine).

    • FauxRealFaux

      My ex is a (civilian ) mechanical engineer and according to him engineers are the most important beings in the world. :)

  • FauxRealFaux

    I agree with Pharrell. Why would a man refer to himself as a “feminist” historically the term has applied to females that want the same rights as men. How about using the term “pro-feminist” to refer to men. I have never referred to myself as a feminist- I am a phenomenal woman and I have always identified with Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth, and Maya Angelou’s brand of “feminity” since historically white women did not include other ethnicities in their feminist movement. (Traditionally black women have been more inclusive of all women in the fight for human and civil rights).

    Blurred Lines has nothing to do with how Pharrell views women nor does it undermine the many contrubutions he does to help women ( charities and organizations). I love the song….

    Rest in Peace Maya Angelou. I know our ancestors are, in heaven, celebrating your arrival.

    • Nbl

      Beautiful sentiment! While I’ll agree with black women being excluded from the woman’s rights movement, early feminist were also leading abolitionist. My definition of feminism goes hand in hand with civil rights movements (black, Hispanic, homosexual etc). The idea that regardless of race, gender, sexuality every human being deserves equal rights. By making the moment about a woman’s sexuality (acceptance of body and being open about sex not sexual preference) undermines those ideals.
      Maya Angelou was what I call a quiet hero. Her life wasn’t about huge acts of heroism but rather inflicting change and beauty through her passion. A true example of the pen being mightier than the sword. Her talent and the beauty she brought to the world will be greatly missed. She should be proud of the legacy she left behind. Truly an inspiration and someone who will always be celebrated.

    • FauxRealFaux

      Yes, white women, as well as white men, were openly involved in the abolitionist movement. Since laws like the Fugitive Slave Act, Dredd Scott Decisiom, and Black Codes prohibited blacks from openly participating in that movement. However, white men oftentimes excludd white women from participating in Abolitionist Conventions and writings rallying the end of slavery.

      Black Women had a different take on feminism ( Sojourner Truth pointed this out in her “Ain’t I a Woman” speech. Traditionally, black women were the ones in charge of raising white children, running their households and the households of the middle class, white feminist. Take in account that white women were allowed to vote, own property, receive quality education, and were viewed as actual women- white feminism has a different perspective.

      Then came the Civil Rights Movement: which helped all minorities and all women achieve equal protection of the law. In fact, the number one benefactor of Affirmative Action has been white women. ( Referencing Civil Rights Acts). So yea, the Civil Rights Movement, had a greater impact than feminism did, and no, I don’t view them in the same way.

      As far as Maya Angelo being aquiet hero- she would agree with you- she was a very humble woman. I disagree with that assessment her heroism was powerful, large, and will be felt for generations. Her book “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” she light on childhood sexual abuse. She worked with Dr. King, Malcolm X, and participated in the Civil Rights Movement. She was a champion for human rights…. Her poetry was a source of inspiration for women and inspired most of the people that I have met. I was honored to meet Maya Angelou and her presence, her smile, her beauty is something that I will not forget. Something I share with my children and will share with their children.

    • Dolly Smith

      In fact historically the group at the beginning of what we refer to as the ‘women’s movement’, the Suffragettes, never included ALL women in their ‘struggle’ at all. The Suffragettes were middle & upper class women who wanted voting rights for MIDDLE & UPPER CLASS WOMEN ONLY & they prevented the majority of working class women ( & working class men btw who could not vote either ) from voting.
      Fast forward to the USA in the 60s & university educated white women co opted the Civil Rights Movement to get ‘their share’. So yes, the idea that feminism per se is about ‘human rights’ simply is not true. They did not care about working women, they did not care about working men & they hijacked the Civil Rights Movement to serve their own agenda.
      This idea that feminists work to overcome the oppressor is a myth. The real issue facing the World is the rich/poor divide, not the female/male divide.

    • FauxRealFaux

      I agree 100% with what you typed.:)

  • Ruby L


    • 37 Pieces Of Ric Flair

      Yep. Bye Pherrellicia.

  • 37 Pieces Of Ric Flair

    His being a feminist is irrelevant. Feminism isn’t here to make men’s lives easier.

  • Dolly Smith

    Actually Williams is on the same page as radfems, they maintain that it is not possible for men to be feminists either. For evidence read the following passage from askaradfem-

    “Men calling themselves feminists is just as offensive as if a Wall
    Street dude joined in Occupy Wall Street and started chanting about
    being in the 99% when he isn’t, and demanded recognition because since
    there’s people even richer than he is, he also must be oppressed by the
    upper class to which he belongs.”

    You can still support feminism, but men CANNOT BE feminists. This is
    an important difference. Feminism is not for or about men, it is for the
    women. Feminism is needed because of men, even the supposedly
    good ones. As a male, you enjoy the benefits of patriarchy every day,
    whether you want to or not. It should be quite obvious why men can’t
    call themselves nor be feminists.”

    Btw, why would you ask someone who collaborates on a song ( ‘Excuse Me Miss’ ) with lyrics like this- “You ain’t even gotta do the dishes, got two dishwashers
    Got one chef, one maid”/”Groupies try to take advantage of him, he won’t let ‘em”- if they were a feminist?

    People’s definition of feminism is so broad as to be meaningless. Your best bet as a human being is just to respect everyone you encounter regardless of sex…unfortunately many people seem unable to do so & yes, that includes women…’even the supposedly good ones’.

    • FauxRealFaux

      The entire entire entertainment business to include, movies, rock music, country music, rap, and pop all promote douche baggery. All promote materialism, sex, exclusion and all other sinful things. I am a female and I love hip hop, I have rapped along with Tupac ( I love the song “Wonder why they call you bitch”). Heck, I have moments when my Pandora Station plays a mix of Gospel and Hardcore 90′s Rap. I am a contradictiom just as many people are.

  • Guest

    Did we totally forget that Pharrell was involved in that whole Blurred lines controversy? He produced the song and did vocals and appeared in the video.

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