Back in the golden days of Smash Hits and Top of the Pops magazines, we would get a brief and fun insight into our favourite band or singer’s life.
How do you like your tea?
What’s your favourite colour?
Who’s the messiest member of the band?
Which member of the Spice Girls do you fancy?
We’d get the occasional social analysis but almost everything was done for a lol, even if the interviewee was Margaret Thatcher. Her favourite song? ‘How Much is that Doggie in the Window’, of course.
Fast forward to today and we have brief and fun insights into the lives of our celebrities every waking hour of every goddamn day. Print press aside, we have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Buzzfeed, TMZ, Jezebel, Pitchfork, Vulture, Popjustice, Stereogum and hundreds upon hundreds of other platforms for celebs to be analysed, interviewed and to have their say. With so many windows into their lives, careers and opinions, ‘What’s your favourite colour?’ just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Musician’s faces aren’t just the covers of their albums or the management-approved interviews with Rolling Stone, they’re everywhere and our questions need to get more specific so they can get more clued in.
Annie Lennox has always fiercely waved the flag for feminism. In the Guardian this weekend, she goes into detail as to why feminism is so important and why we need International Women’s Day. She knows her shit and we love you for that, Annie.
Kim Gordon, Bikini Kill and Garbage’s Shirley Manson have always been very vocal and active in their ways for equality between the sexes. Listen to the lyrics of almost every Missy Elliot song or read Grimes’ Tumblr post for different versions of feminism. Pop on Salt N’ Pepa, some early Janet Jackson or, hell, even Christina Aguilera’s ‘Can’t Hold Us Down’ is a feminist anthem. Nicki Minaj is like a never-ending machine gun with her quips on feminism. The rap scene is especially male-driven so when she says “When I’m assertive, I’m a bitch. When a man is assertive, he’s a boss. He bossed up. No negative connotation behind ‘bossed up’ but loads of negative connotations behind being a ‘bitch’”, we are screaming “YAASSSSS QUEEN YASSSS”.
Annie Lennox’s Guardian piece and the video of Nicki Minaj go into important sexual, economic, social, educational and medical elements of feminism. It’s a bigger topic than asking “How do you like your tea?” for sure so why are so many of today’s younger stars so hesitant to simply drop the F-bomb?
For us regular folk, what you consider feminism when you are 15 is totally different to what you think it is when you are 30. It’s an ever-evolving process and your opinions change through personal experiences or experiences of people you know. Celebrities are surrounded by their staff. They may not even have a college education let alone a high school education. Socially, they are the stars of every party they attend and they are fawned over by millions of adoring fans. In the past, celebrities were rarely challenged but now with this open media experience, they are getting it from all angles and need to stop churning out the rehashed and god-awful phrase “I’m not a feminist but….”
It took a long time for Beyoncé to finally come out with the word ‘feminist’ but when she did, she had it in bright lights standing 20 feet tall at the MTV Video Music Awards. She also had an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDxEuston talk on her song ‘***Flawless’. Of course, Beyoncé’s version of feminism will be very different to my version or your version of feminism because we are not multimillionaire celebrities. She raised so many eyebrows when she went on her The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour but if she has eight-year-olds or people who have never considered feminism before singing words lifted directly from an academic speech on feminism, this is by no means a bad thing.
“Why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDxEuston talk featured on Beyoncé’s ‘***Flawless’
Taylor Swift is a great example of a turn around. She has reached her learning curve of feminism and what it means for her and for women all across the world. Swift signed her first record label when she was 14 and thus, her life in a cocoon started. Three years ago, when she was 22, she said in an interview, “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”. When I first read that, I shook my head and thought “No, honey. No.” But in recent interviews, she’s finally realising that it’s more than that.
As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities…What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all.”
– The Guardian, 23 August 2014
Their thought process is being played out in front of us and sometimes it just isn’t pretty.
As this conversation keeps on getting bigger, especially on the red carpet of big award ceremonies, our questions – to men and women – need to get sharper. When it comes to feminism, we need to stop pussyfooting around. If it’s Lennox’s version, which goes to the ends of the earth, or Swift’s version, which means you can date who you want to when you want to, we need to stop treating it like a hushed swear word and roar it like the fucking war cry it is.
Featured Image credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images