Famous feminist icons

Famous feminist icons

A lot of celebrities such as Katy Perry and Lady Gaga have refused to class themselves as femininsts with Gaga saying she isn’t a feminist because she ‘hails men’ and ‘loves men’. I personally think both these women are strong and are very inspirational, however I think the reason why they, and many other women will not call themselves feminists is because of the negative connotations around the world and the misconceptions of what feminism is. Feminists do not hate men (this is only a few radicals who I personally do not support as they do not understand the meaning of feminism) and can have happy relationships with men, it is rather about gender equality, for both men and women. I see no reason why anyone would refuse to say that they are not a supporter of this movement, so I highly admire celebrities who label themselves as feminists to show that feminism is a good thing, and without it we would be so much further from gender equality than we are now.


We all know Beyonce as a strong, empowering woman who is the epitome of a feminist. She’s never been shy about flaunting her sexuality which is often frowned upon in women even though it is considered fine when men do it. Many of her songs such as ‘***Flawless’ and ‘Run The World (Girls), are feminist anthems that explore female empowerment; particularly seen in ‘***Flawless’ which dicusses how women are expected to find a husband. Besides her musical career, Beyonce is also a political feminist activist; she has written an in depth paper about gender equality and how it is not yet a reality even though it is percieved to be. She is also a spokesperson for the ‘Chime For Change’ campaign which funded projects to help as many women as possible have access to education, health care and justice.


Actress Emma Watson is another political activist; she is a spokesperson for the UN campaign ‘HeForShe’ which is designed to promote gender equality, and in 2014 she did a powerful speech for the initiative highlighting the issue of inequality that exists across the globe. She has also spoken about the negative connotations around the word ‘feminism’ and has stressed (and quite rightly so) that feminism is about gender equality for both men and women and is certainly not a movement designed to attack men. She has stated that ‘if you stand for equality, you’re a feminist. I’m sorry to tell you.’ which is a perfect response to those who refuse to call themselves a feminist because they don’t understand the meaning of the word. As well as her UN work she has also created her own book club promoting books that explore feminism.


Both Barack and Michelle Obama are feminists and made a massive difference to how women are perceived in the United States. Barack has spoken about feminism many times, particularly about his own daughters saying that he would not allow them to have fewer opportunities than boys. In 2016 he wrote an essay on feminism stating that when we are all equal we will be more free, and recently both him and Michelle have spoken out against Trump’s disgusting view towards women. Michelle is a woman I admire strongly for dozens of reasons, particularly her strong feminist stance. She has spoken out about gender equality and oppression of women more times than I can count, particularly reaching out to young girls, making them realize that they are fully capable of anything. She has also campaigned for girls education and is an icon to many women in America as well as across the globe.

AOL BUILD Speakers Series: John Legend

Men are often excluded when it comes to feminism as it’s seen as a female dominated movement, however if you support gender equality regardless of your own gender, you are a feminist, and I admire men who class themselves as one. A perfect example is singer John Legend; John is also a supporter of the ‘Chime For Change’ campaign and performed a charity concert in the UK to raise funds and to raise awareness about gender inequality and the issues women are facing. Legend says that ‘all men should be feminists’ as this will make the world a ‘better place’, and I couldn’t agree more, as if both genders showed one another respect and fought for gender equality everyone would have a better quality of life and no one would be oppressed. I strongly admire John for not only calling himself a feminist, but for acting on the problems that women are facing.


Arundhati Roy is not only the author of one of my favourite books, ‘The God of Small Things’, but she is an empowering political activist, campaigning against environment degradation, capitalism and of course, gender inequality. Roy has openly spoken about women who refuse to call themselves feminists, saying that feminism is essential and without it these women would be back ‘in a kitchen taking instructions’. She has described herself as a ‘natural born feminist’ and has written political essays about gender inequality, as well as her only novel that explores the position of women in Indian society. She may be controversial in her oppressive home country, however I greatly admire her wit, composure and her courage for speaking out in support of those who are oppressed when no one else will.


Comedian and actress Amy Poehler may be well known for her sense of humour and apperance in movies such as Mean Girls and Inside Out, however she’s also a proud feminist. Poehler has spoken about her identity as a feminist many times, including her famous ‘car quote’, where she says that women who renounce feminism is similar to a woman saying she doesn’t believe in cars but she still drives it everyday and it’s an essential part of her life. She also explored feminism in her book ‘Yes Please’ and has spoken out about the gender gap in Hollywood. She also began the #AskHerMore campaign which highlights how women on the red carpet are only asked about their outfits by interviewers, rather than themselves.


Last, but certainly not least is the youngest ever Nobel Peace Price winner Malala Yousafzai. Most of us have read her powerful autobiography (‘I Am Malala’) which described the oppression of women in her home country Pakistan which was under Taliban control; Malala was shot on her school bus by a member of the Taliban for writing a blog in support of girls’ right to education. Since then she has recovered from her injury, moved to England and has become a campaigner for women’s rights, particularly their right to education. Malala has done vast amounts feminism related work including her creation of ‘The Malala Fund’ which aids women’s education across the globe and highlighting the issue women are facing to the US Congress to provide further aid for women’s education.

Published by Rachel S.D.B

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