rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Should we stop asking celebrities about feminism?

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

I think maybe it's time to stop asking celebrities if they are feminist or not. If they don't do feminist work, what's the point? It's like asking me about Judaism or the raw food movement -- I have no opinion and if you force me to come up with one I'm going to come off as an idiot. Those are not my areas of expertise. Lots of areas are not my areas of expertise.

What's with so many interviewers asking female musicians or actresses about feminism? Why not just ask a feminist? The vast majority of the time they have no real answer, don't seem to understand the meaning of the word, and then end up being pushed into controversy because they made some stupid/offensive statement about not being feminist because they "love men" (à la Lady Gaga). If the purpose of these interviews is to convince me that celebrities are just not all that smart, then fine. I believe you. But if not, I don't know, maybe we need to stop asking them to form opinions on political movements when they really don't have any.

In an interview published at Spin today, Kelis was asked: "Songs like 'Milkshake,' 'Trick Me," and 'Bossy' made you this empowered female figure to a generation for women. Would you consider yourself a feminist?"

First of all, what?? In what universe was "Milkshake" empowering for a generation of women?

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard/And they're like/It's better than yours/Damn right it's better than yours/I can teach you/But I have to charge.

First of all, that song was annoying as hell. Second, teaching women that their sexuality is a commodity is not empowering.

Kelis reponds to the interviewer by saying:

"I've always shied away from the word "feminism," only because I think to truly be feminist I think it's a word that's unnecessary. I don't have to stamp it on my forehead or pass out T-shirts to prove that I'm happy to be a woman, or that I feel like I deserve equal rights.

For my generation and for your generation, I'm not negating the fight that women made before us. It's the same thing as when you talk about civil rights. Well, are things perfect right now? Hell no. Is there still racism in a lot of the world? Absolutely. But the same fight is the fight of change. I don't feel the need to walk around with a rifle. It's just not beneficial; it doesn't make any sense. And for me, I feel like that puts us as women back. I'm in no way, shape, or form ignoring the fact that these things were astronomical in our world and they were necessary because people were smart, and brave, and powerful. But in this year, right now -- yeah, do we get paid less than guys do? Sure. Is it equal? No. Should it be? Absolutely."

I'm not here to dis Kelis. All I'm saying is that it's clear she doesn't really get why feminism exists or what it is, so why lob the question her way? In fact, it seems like she's got a fairly conservative view of the roles men and women should play in this world.

"So am I a feminist? I don't know. Call it what you want. I am extraordinarily happy to be a woman. I would not change it for the world. I think men should run the world because if not there would be no balance. Men cannot have children, they will never know what that feels like. To actually have life -- to give birth and life to someone. If we ran the entire world also, we would annihilate. There would be no balance whatsoever. So I'm fine with that. If men want to run the world, great. Congratulations. If that makes you feel equal to those that can actually create life. But I don't care. There are so many more important things to think about. I feel like people are constantly complaining about injustice. And like I said, it's different than when we had to fight to vote, okay? But right now, if you want to be a successful woman, are there going to be challenges? Yeah. But so what? It's possible, it's possible. You know. Be a woman and make it happen. Just do what you have to do. I feel like all my friends, my sisters, my mom, my aunts and all the people who I value, they're brilliant. And are they aware of the fact that things might be a little skewed? Yeah. But it doesn't make them any less awesome or capable. All these titles are just so useless."

A lot of people learn that men and women should have different roles in this world in order to create "balance" and, therefore, end up with this idea that feminism is not only "anti-man" but "anti-woman" because it's "against" femininity (or masculinity). If you think that masculine and feminine gender roles are not only innate but good, then you're likely to see critiques of those gender roles as attacking actual males and females, rather than attacking those socialized roles and behaviours, as well as the hierarchy that is attached to said roles. This leads women to say things like "No, I'm not a feminist, I love being a woman," because they believe their womanhood is attached to a subordinate gender role which they have been told is not only natural, but empowering.

It seems to me that asking celebrities to talk about feminism only contributes to the mass confusion around what feminism actually is (Is it about feeling "empowered?" Is it about hating men? Is it about equality? Is it about being a lesbian? Is it about labels? Is it about being angry all the time?) and causes controversy as people feel disappointed when their idols turn out to be not all that smart or progressive.

Taylor Swift responded to the question "Do you consider yourself a feminist?" by saying "I don't really think about things as guys versus girls." Bjork took the old I'm more into positivity than negativity route, reinforcing the notion that fighting patriarchy is just about a bunch of angry, whiny women who hate everything (and should just think positive!). Geri Halliwell bought into the idea that "feminism is bra-burning lesbianism" and therefore "very unglamorous," suggesting a "rebrand" that celebrates "femininity and softness." Famous burlesque dancer, Dita Von Teese just seems totally and completely confused, saying: "It's not a word I don't really like to address, you know? It's not even that I want to call myself that. I just sort of go, 'Oooooh!' It's an eyeball roller. (laughs) You know what I mean? It's like, oh man, it's a weird question. The word "feminist" is so broad." ... Come again?

This list could go on, but you get the picture. The question seems worthwhile if the goal is to educate, but that doesn't seem to be the point when these stereotypical, anti-feminist, or nonsensical answers are just left hanging out there. Who cares what celebrities think about feminism? They didn't become pop stars because of their deep commitment to social justice (though if they happen to be both a celebrity and committed to social justice, great). If I want to learn about feminism, I'll go ask a feminist. Just like if I want to learn about veganism or climate change or physics, I'll go ask an expert, not some rando on the street and certainly not some twenty-something pop star.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.