Pop Feminism- Is It A Bad Thing?

Lily Allen’s new song and video, ‘Hard Out Here’ has certainly been causing debate. Feministic or opportunistic? Empowering or Enforcing Stereotypes?

Still from Allen's new video.

Still from Allen’s new video.

Comments on the Youtube video range from:

‘Looks like Lily’s still faking the funk. Trying to act like she’s making some grand statement about music industry and the sexualizing of women but yet having a video that objectifies and sexualizes women, specifically black women. So essentially we have white female privilege at work. She can claim she is speaking ‘truth’ and liberal commentators will clap in agreement but she is still using a$$ in a video to sell a mediocre song. Oh, yeah just like everyone else. She tried it, though’


‘lily didu just summarize why we need feminism in one fucking awesome song? you just…. UR A QUEEN’ .

I, personally, am hanging in the feminist corner with this. It’s loud, its crass, it has so many ‘bitch’es in it that it even makes me rethink the word, and, (and I am only going to say this ONCE) is parodying the way popstars like Miley Cyrus use different ethnicities to boost their street cred. Is it The Female Eunuch? No. But it doesn’t have to be. Feminism comes in all forms and flavours and Lily Allen isn’t the first (and hopefully won’t be the last) to bring it to a mainstream pop audience.

I see Allen’s new track as a perfect example of Comfort Feminism, and I really don’t mean that in a demeaning or condescending manner. All the major turning points in my Feminism weren’t informed by manifestos like Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique or Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman – as much as I love them. They were marked by pop feminism, or feminism that comforted and made me feel better, because I’m not a robot, I have insecurities, and sometimes that is exactly what I need.

The first person who ever made Feminism cool for me was Amelia Peabody, heroine of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. An archaeologist during the golden period of Egyptology, she also solved crimes, was a wife and a mother, and supported Women’s suffrage. She was also really cool and not a racist. Win! The first couple of books saw her ditch the dresses, and move to first split skirts, then bloomers, and then trousers for maximum crime fighting/archaeological bad-assery! Damn, I thought, anything Amelia Peabody subscribes to, I subscribe to, and thus began my first conscious foray into feminism- though I can never remember a time I didn’t want to be judged on my work and not on my gender or appearance.

Barbara Metz a.k.a Elizabeth Peters, being a badass in Egypt. Also pictured is Amelia Peabody being 80's on the cover of the Mummy Case (the book was A LOT better than the cover).

Barbara Metz a.k.a Elizabeth Peters, being a badass in Egypt. Also pictured is Amelia Peabody being 80’s on the cover of the Mummy Case (the book was A LOT better than the cover).

Amelia Peabody never sprouted anything but basic Feminism- that she wanted the vote and to be treated equally. She wasn’t particularly scholarly or academic in her viewpoints, and it was really a rather minor part of the book- mostly it was about digging up mummies and kicking ass! It was pop feminism, and it changed my life.

But you know what, I was twelve, and I fell off the Feminism wagon. I got very snooty about it too. I believed that all Feminists were extreme man-haters and I was an equalist. Nowadays I know that, not only is equalist not a word, it’s exactly the same as Feminism, minus the pretentiousness. It wasn’t until I was seventeen that I acknowledged myself to be a feminist again, and that wasn’t because of some hard hitting article about gender equality, but because Marina and the Diamonds said she was one.

Marina Diamandis- No Germaine Greer.... OR IS SHE???

Marina Diamandis- No Germaine Greer…. OR IS SHE???

I know, right? Super embarrassing.

Only its not! Marina Diamandis is one of my favourite singers and she made it ok, in my extremely teen-angsty eyes, to be a feminist. That feminism wasn’t about man-hating, and that not only was it awesome, it was also crucial.

Out of my friends, I was the only one who was ‘I’M A FEMINIST!’, but that didn’t really matter. Until I bought a book on Feminism. Then shit got real.

When I bought Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman, everyone looked at me like I had sprouted an extra head. Not because I was too feminist, but, ugh, seriously? You need a book to help you decide whether or not to have a Brazilian?

Caitlin Moran's 'How To Be a Woman'

Caitlin Moran’s ‘How To Be a Woman’

Maybe I’m just a weak minded individual, but there are lot of dirty looks in the world, from feminists and non-feminists alike, and sometimes you need Caitlin Moran to bring it back to basics with wanking and just to have a laugh about how ridiculous life is. I know generally what my thoughts are on a subject, but sometimes I like to know that I’m not the only person with those views. And that’s why I called it Comfort Feminism. Because it comforts you and keeps you going, and THAT IS NOT A BAD THING. It is a good, good thing, and we shouldn’t get snide about it just because someone else might be earlier on in their feminism journey than we are.

So Lily Allen’s song may not be feminist rocket science, but it is filled with great lyrics and some brilliant points, and if it gives someone out there the boost they need- the boost that I needed and which Marina and Caitlin gave me- how about we don’t piss on their parade, but instead join arms like it’s the Wizard of Oz and make a night of it?

B-bitch-b-bitch-bitch bitch bitch.

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