Hollywood has an inexplicably tortured relationship with the word "feminism." Some celebrities embrace it, while some think it's no longer necessary. Still others just don't understand what it means, and a shocking number wholly reject it. For me, the most baffling stance is when a female celebrity insists that she believes in everything feminism stands for — but refuses to accept the label of feminist. Such is the case with Kim Kardashian, who, earlier this month, told us she is not a feminist.
On Monday, the reality star expounded on that statement by penning a short piece on her website titled, "Why I Don't Label Myself A Feminist." Kardashian starts off by saying she defines a feminist as anyone who believes people should have equal rights, choices, and opportunities, regardless of gender. And she assures us that she does indeed want all of those things — before enumerating the ways in which she empowers women. "Obviously, there are things about me that people might say make me a feminist," Kardashian writes. "I work hard, I make my own money, I'm comfortable and confident in my own skin, and I encourage women to be open and honest about their sexuality, and to embrace their beauty and their bodies." Those are all great attributes, and they certainly go hand in hand with female empowerment and feminism — but making your own money and feeling great naked do not a feminist make.
Then, inevitably, comes the standard "I don't believe in labels" cop-out — the same one stars like Shailene Woodley have used before. "But why do we have to put labels on things?" Kardashian writes. "You're Republican, you're Democrat, you're bisexual, you're plus-size, you're poor, you're a criminal, you're a mother, you're a feminist. I'm a human being, and I have thoughts, feelings and opinions about a lot of different things. I don't need to be defined by those beliefs." She continues, "I feel that being grouped or labeled can create separation between people who do (or don't) fall into certain categories, when they may actually share many of the same beliefs and goals. It's not about he, she, gay, straight, Black, white. The fight for equality is about ALL human beings being treated equally — regardless of gender, sexuality, or ethnicity." It doesn't even feel necessary to spell out the incredible irony here of Kardashian saying that it's about "ALL human beings being treated equally regardless of gender" — the very definition of feminism — whilst insisting that she is not a feminist.
But Kardashian misses the mark on another level, too. The label "feminist" is supposed to mark a "separation," between the people who do believe in gender equity and the people who don't. That is the point. By calling yourself a feminist, you distinguish yourself from those who are sexist, misogynistic, or apathetic. It is about "he, she," at least until the hes and shes of the world are equal. Labeling yourself a feminist is a powerful vocal rejection of the status quo, along with the people and ideologies that enforce it. Kardashian is treading into the same dangerous territory that "All Lives Matter" supporters occupy when she insists it's about everybody — as opposed to the people being oppressed and marginalized. It's disappointing that somebody with such a huge platform can't see that.