From margin to center: feminism in an era of mainstream co-optation

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University of Alabama Libraries

Contemporary American culture is witnessing the phenomenon of many high-profile celebrities proudly calling themselves, feminist--I refer to these individuals as celebrity feminists. This phenomenon comes as a shift from the historical avoidance with the term feminist and the feminist movement due to mainstream media's portrayal of feminism using negative and fallacious stereotypes. The current shift to "feminism is wonderful," in the mainstream media--as a reflection of a white supremacist and patriarchal society--de-politicizes feminism, making it less of a radical movement that seeks social change and more a portrayal of individual empowerment on the part of exceptional women. In essence, it seeks to separate the personal from the political. Following the lead of bell hooks, we must combat this co-optation and de-politicization of feminism and reclaim it as a transformative politics. We must come to a consensus on what feminism is, even if the definition is fluid and broad, determine the goals of feminism so that we do not mistake the individual success of women as proof of feminism accomplished, and challenge the so-called sex positivity of feminism as portrayed by the mainstream media for its lack of inclusion of all people and its portrayal of sex as the last frontier of feminism. In spite of these misrepresentations, feminism has a bright future in an era of social media that gives the power of media and message to more people who can portray a feminism that is radical and uses an intersectional lens.

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Women's studies