Feminism is Trendy AF, But What Does That Really Mean?

Social norm or passing trend? Veronica Ratliff explores what the current state of feminism means to her.

words by Veronica Ratliff

Now I must admit, when I began writing this article, I felt knots in my stomach. How can I as a woman, and a black woman at that, “judge” other women, allies, and systems based on their preconceived meaning of feminism? To some, feminism stems from personal childhood experiences of toxic masculinity in the home, and to others it’s that pay raise that they never seem to receive no matter how hard they work. But by definition, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”. This very definition brings a lot into question for me. Simply put, is feminism a new passing trend or is it the paradigm shift that will propel society forward?

When it comes to today’s feminist movement, it seems that many people can’t seem to agree on simple acts of protest and policy. This act of blatant separatism made me think: do we even understand what we are fighting for and against?

In 2017, feminism became one of the hottest topics in most news outlets, song subjects, and even in the world of fashion. This spike in awareness has put some feminists in an uproar. Legendary feminist author and activist, Bell Hooks said “Beyonce is a terrorist” after being asked about the current state of feminism She also said…

“I have been kinda amazed at the way feminism has entered popular culture now as a kind of, ‘You want to have this label. You want to embrace it, but the fact is the kind of images that are being created are not anything that I would consider feminist. And I’m puzzled over why people want to call themselves feminists. What is it about where we are now where you can be selling really rotten gut sexist bull, but then say, ‘I’m a feminist.’?’”

Harsh to some, this quote makes me question my own authenticity and why I would want to label myself as a feminist. Even though I own a “Listen to Women” t-shirt and wear it proudly, do I really know what I am representing? Am I representing this movement publicly for an ego-boost or popularity, or am I implementing policy into my everyday life? For research, I read Bell Hooks’ book “Feminism is for Everybody” and was shook to say the least. I realized that I knew so little about the cause I was fighting for.

She eloquently wrote, “If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimize and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” When I read that, I thought of times in my life as a woman, daughter, and girlfriend where I might be giving up the very power that would make me a feminist. I thought of songs where I sang along as rockstars, rappers, and singers gave away their power for approval while upholding the patriarchal systems. I thought of national holidays where I made sure to post pictures of the leading ladies in my life paired with long paragraphs about strength and independence. Was I a hypocrite or was I along with so many people, a young feminist in training?

The broad concept that is feminism cannot be summed into one individual’s definition of it. The political, social, and economic policies and principles seem to be morphing and expanding over time. Even though there is a ton of commercialism and monetization of this very subject,  I still believe that it is good for awareness that so many young boys and girls have a faint, idea of what feminism is. Whether sexual liberation, or abortion rights crack open the door, this “trend” is slowly but surely becoming the new normal. So lets have more unified protests, t-shirts and songs. These small seeds are causing the next generation of young boys and girls to do the research and know why the movement was started in the 1920s – equality for all.

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