Sexism within the entertainment industry is a notorious tale as old as time.
Whilst stories of sexual assault and harassment are beginning to spill out of the seams of all industries, the actions of the stars on our screens are being rightfully challenged and made accountable for their actions.
Using their global recognition to publicise and advocate for equal rights for women, Hollywood is also home to the celebrity feminists that are being directly aligned with the feminist movement through all media outlets today. In the recent years, we have seen many famous young women claim the “feminist” label. With social media giving us a direct insight into the political stances of popular musicians and actresses, millions of us have spent our screen time swiping, sharing and liking through the online posts and campaigns brought to our attention by our favourite stars.
One of the most vocal in the strive for gender equality, with her work gaining consistent publicity since the announcement of her position as UN ambassador in 2014 is Emma Watson. The British actress has used her platform to speak on various issues, placing large amount of efforts into the HeForShe campaign initiated by the United Nations, encouraging all genders to take a stance on negative stereotypes and behaviours. Her speech for the campaign has since had over 2.5 million views on Youtube and shortly after led to her cover feature on the first feminist issue of ELLE. In an online article by the same fashion publication titled “11 of our Favourite Outspoken and Powerful Celebrity Feminists”. Last year she was named along with stars such as Viola Davis, Angelina Jolie and Beyonce for their embracements of the movement.
Named also within this article, after using her Twitter followed by 60.3 million as an advocacy platform is the 25 year-old singer Ariana Grande. Taking to the timeline on multiple occasions in response to sexist comments about herself and other musicians. Most recently, Piers Morgan has placed himself in Ariana’s firing line after attempting to slam the UK based girl group Little Mix based on their “feminist statement”. She responded to the tweet attempting to dismiss the group’s “feminist statement” based on their choices of clothing by the ITV presenter stating that:
Ellen is an incredible & kind human being.. I use my talent AND my sexuality all the time because i choose to. women can be sexual AND talented. naked and dignified. it’s OUR choice. ? & we will keep fighting til people understand. i say this w all due respect but thank u, next. https://t.co/wSknRSlJN8
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) 21 November 2018
Of course, increased publicity and the online challenges to the sexism that women experience today through celebrity social media account are beneficial to feminism.
In the release of her book “The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism”, Catherine Rottenberg discusses how the popularity of feminism has emerged through popular culture but now focuses on the individual. By celebrities sharing their personal experiences of sexism and encouraging women to do the same, the structures of patriarchy which allow the abuse and harassment to occur still stand. Instagram, seems to be the largest platform for proof of this individualism. Through influencers on the photo-sharing app, women are encouraged to encourage and practice feminism through images of empowerment and self care instead of addressing issues of liberation and social justice. Daunting points have also been made by the Roxanne Gay on the new found digestibility of feminism being fore-fronted by the stars. In the Guardian article, the professor at Purdue University brought to light that:
“when a pretty young woman has something to say about feminism, all of a sudden, that broad ignorance disappears or is set aside because, at last, we have a more tolerable voice proclaiming the very messages feminism has been trying to impart for so damn long.”
So while celebrities seems to be in the eyes of Gay, the “spoonful of sugar” that society has needed to sweeten the realisation that feminism is still necessary and relevant.
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