Commentary: Female celebrities mixed in response to feminism

Kendall Jenner attends the Fragrance Foundation Awards at Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
Kendall Jenner attends the Fragrance Foundation Awards at Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

“To be or not to be, that is the question”… when discussing feminism. Most of our information on the topic comes from the media, specifically female celebrities proudly stating their stance while adorned in Zac Posen gowns on the red carpet or dismissing the idea entirely in an exclusive magazine interview. Either way, the public is hearing mixed responses from the females leading the entertainment industry.

In a recent interview with the Sunday Times, Kendall Jenner was asked if she considered herself a feminist.

“I don’t know much about it, so I can’t really speak on it … I’m not gonna say much because I’d like to be more educated,” Jenner said.

A majority of responses to Jenner’s comments have been positive. Rather than giving a definitive statement and branding herself into the new public face of feminism, Jenner escapes all labeling by crafting a response the media can accept.  No one can blame someone for wanting to learn more.

“I think that Kendall’s answer is respectable on one hand, but very naïve on the other,” DePaul sophomore Riley Price said. “She’s probably taking a semi-neutral stance in order to avoid any shots fired at her, so her publicist tells her to dodge any hard-hitting questions.”

Until Jenner’s recent comment, much of Hollywood’s response to the inevitable, “are you or aren’t you a feminist” question has been one side or the other.  Followers of the media coverage anticipate what side to toss the next-big-thing female entertainer and define her by her answer.

“The Fault in Our Stars” lead actress Shailene Woodley backed herself into an enveloped wall of irony with her response to the question during her interview with Time last year.

“You need (power) balance,” Woodley said, claiming she was more into sisterhood than women overpowering men.

It seems there is an air of confusion on what the term feminism actually means, causing some female celebrities to declare neutral stances or miss the idea entirely. Last year Katy Perry said she finally discovered what feminism meant and can now call herself a feminist.

“I love myself as a female and I also love men,” Perry said.

While loving yourself and others is a fantastic message to spread, dodges the essence of feminism completely.

Pro-feminism celebrities like Emma Watson and Taylor Swift are applauded in news coverage for taking a stand for females. Watson’s HeforShe campaign exploded online the second it was launched.

“I think that celebrities are definitely branded once they give their position, and it seems as though people are constantly looking at them for some sort of guidance in it all,” Price said.

Since many people value Hollywood’s opinion, having feminist celebrities is important.  Celebrity status comes with the fans that will look to your actions to mimic in real life.  What stops some female celebrities from claiming a spot of either side of the discussion is the varied definitions society pins on the term feminism.

“Feminism is one hundred percent, absolutely in no way, shape, or form about hating men,” Price said. “To me, feminism is purely about fighting sexism and the belief in equal human rights among genders.”

Under the assumption feminism is the equality of men and women, female celebrities need to embrace their position in media and share that message of equality to inspire their fans. Influence comes with the territory of fame and instead of creating a society divided; all celebrities need to help build a community of togetherness.

“If you believe that you, your mother, your sister, aunts, grandmothers, and girlfriends deserve to be treated equal to a man, then you are a feminist,” Price said.