Feminism’s fickle cousin, twice removed.
Hermione Granger, Peggy Carter, and Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan present themselves as a strong female leads. Hermione and Skeeter went out of their way to fight for the freedom of people that society had cast aside. The house elves in the Harry Potter universe served to the every need of the wizards they belonged to and it took Hermione all but a few years in the wizarding world to recognize that there existed a problem. Skeeter acknowledged her privilege and worked to reveal the struggles that the black families in her immediate area. Peggy Carter is able to establish her authority in a field that is dominated by men. All three went against societal norms, all three faced setbacks (Hermione was a mudblood, Skeeter wasn’t “pretty”, Peggy was “too aggressive”), but they all pushed back harder. There is a lot to be admired from these characters because they present a progress that our society should embrace.
But there is another aspect to this that we ought to consider. People are shying away from feminism in favor of a movement that is “trending”. A couple million views on a Vogue advertisement featuring Deepika Padukone might do that to you. If it’s trending then there is no need to push back is there? All we ask is that you remember where popular feminism actually came from, what you’re actually fighting for, and that this was a very real problem even before society decided to turn it into a more palatable marketing strategy. Here, let me put it this way; do you remember Audrey Hepburn? Of course you do, she was a media icon. Between a stunning career in film and on Broadway, she epitomized the
glitter and glamour of old Hollywood. Tell me, what else do you know about Hepburn? Did you know that she became the goodwill ambassador for UNICEF? Or that her experiences during the German Occupation motivated her to travel the world and raise awareness about children in need? She won a special Academy Award in 1993 for her humanitarian work that she would not live to receive. Audrey Hepburn’s legacy is one to emulate, but history remembers her as pretty.
Academic feminism and popular feminism have their roots in the sa
me place and there is some credit due to popular feminism in te
rms of raising awareness, but I implore you to recall this very important origin story. Think of Hermione being constantly bullied for where she came from, but still choosing to fight for house elves. Think of Peggy Carter having to deal with inappropriate male advances despite being the toughest in her field. Think of Skeeter being cast out by nearly everyone she knew just to pursue a piece that would bring light to the poor treatment of the black women in her life. Think of these characters and remember that there is a lot to be said for pushing back, that chnge isn’t always popular.
The Problem With Popular Feminism That’s Making Many People Shy Away From The Word. (2015, September 17). Retrieved May 03, 2017, from https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2015/09/academic-feminism-vs-popular-feminism/
A&E Television Networks. (2017, April 28). Audrey Hepburn. Retrieved May 04, 2017, from http://www.biography.com/people/audrey-hepburn-9335788