March 7, 2015

The Problem with Rejecting “Feminism.”


Meghan Trainor All about the Bass

Meghan, say it ain’t so.

I’m having a concept problem.

I’m sure by now that everyone knows 20-year-old Meghan Trainor, whose current hit, “All About That Bass,” is a rallying cry of freedom for those of us who are not tall size 0 models. And we all know the current trend of Photoshopping even those rail-thin women to make them impossibly perfect.

Well, impossibly perfect in some folk’s eyes. There’s been some very slow change in the fashion world, where apparently, walking clothes hangers are still preferred to real women. Yet, real women aspire to buy the clothes that are slung down the runways by said walking clothes hangers.

Meghan writes songs in Nashville, and according to a recent interview in the Chicago Tribune, she wasn’t even supposed to sing the song that is now inextricably linked to her.

I read the article with interest, because I wanted to know a little more about her. And I was sorely disappointed. Like many young girls lately, when confronted with the “F” word (not that one—I mean feminist), she says, “I didn’t really know the full definition…just tell people I’m 20 and I write music. I don’t know about big words.”

Meghan. Really? Feminist isn’t such a big word.

And honestly, you really do need to know the definition of words with more than one syllable if you’re going to be a songwriter. You’re an adult. You need to know this stuff. Young women these days seem to be really disconnected from the struggles of their grandmothers and mothers for women’s rights.

According to the American Psychological Association, “many young women—and men—don’t realize that equality has yet to be achieved.” It seems that there’s a lot of media distortion of feminists as “man-haters,” and “bra-burners.” When I speak to my two sons about feminism, they look at me as if I’ve just flipped a cog.

“Mom,” says the oldest, “women can do anything they want to. It’s pretty crappy that they don’t make equal pay, and it’s really crappy that we don’t have a female president yet. I don’t understand why this is still not fixed.”

And he’s right.

Yes, we have Title IX. There are certainly laws on the books about gender discrimination. But we’re still paid less than a man who’s doing the same job we are. And for the majority of women, they have “the second shift” when they get home: housework, child care, and other chores. I’m certainly not saying that all men don’t help.

I’m just stating a reality—that most women still do more of the housework than most men do.
A large part of this negation of the word “feminist” could be the whole “don’t fence me in” mentality of the younger women. They don’t want to be labeled. Which is certainly fine; call yourself what you want, but please educate yourself and do your own research.

There’s a certain segment of the media out there who are creating a story that powerful women are, to quote the article I’m citing “braless lesbians who want to destroy the family.” And if young women, even a small percentage of them, buy into that media garbage, then of course we lose momentum.

We’ve certainly come a long way from the days of my grandmother, who got married because she couldn’t afford to go to nursing school; her other option would’ve been the convent.

And my mother, for whom the pinnacle of success was to be a secretary—and I’m not disrespectful of that. A person with a good head for administrative work is worth her weight in gold. But even for me—a child of the 70s—there was a perception that only a few of us would be able to “have it all.”

While I’m not sure that “having it all” is all that it’s cracked up to be, I want—no, I demand—that young women understand what they’re talking about and what they’re denying when they vigorously reject the “feminist” label. My youngest son agrees: the young women in his age bracket don’t seem to want the designation, but they don’t understand all it encompasses.

Equal pay is only one slice of that pie.

Until we as a society—all of us—understand that each one of us is an integral part of making it all work regardless of our gender; until we all know that everyone has to be a full partner in society, in the working world, and in life; and until we as women get our own act together and reclaim “feminist” as a title to which we aspire—until all that happens, we’re going to continue to lose a significant portion of our young women to the notion that the term is pejorative. Not the practical reality and recognition that we as just about half of the population of the world are an important segment of humanity and fully capable of being equally compensated for the work we do.

Fully acknowledged as partners in keeping society going. Fully recognized as partners however we wish that to work (career versus home).

Meghan, please think about what you’ve said. You mentioned in the article that you didn’t want to look back and wonder why you said what you said. I wonder why you said what you said. You don’t have to reject the label out of hand. You do, as a participating member of society, and as one who’s going to have a large audience, need to learn more about feminism and how it got you to where you are right now.

Because in the words of your own song, “…every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”



Is Feminism an F-word?


Author: Pat Perrier

Editor: Renée Picard 

Image: Screenshot from Youtube video

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