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9 Female Icons Who Got Feminism Totally Wrong

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

Earlier this month Emma Watson was hailed a hero by the world after giving a powerful, uplifting speech in her role as UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. She stood up for gender equality. She stood up for equality in general. As various trolls took to social media in an attempt to disgrace her, feminists everywhere had to define feminism over and over again. It can seem like a never-ending task- why can no one understand that feminism is simply equality? Nothing more, nothing less. Her Campus have taken a look back on some of the female celebrities and role models that should know better but just can’t quite get their heads around this whole equality thing.

Shailene Woodley

Asked recently whether she would consider herself a feminist, Woodley got it all wrong when she answered:

“No, because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance… And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn’t work either. We have to have a fine balance. My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism. I don’t know how we as women expect men to respect us because we don’t even seem to respect each other.”

While her points about respect are valid and praise worthy, she has got feminism all wrong. Female celebrities who are such powerful role models such as Woodley should really know what feminism means, before they influence others with distorted views about the word.

Feminism is NOT replacing powerful men with powerful women, it’s about both men and women sharing the power and the spotlight. Gender equality is so simple, and it’s so saddening when someone like Woodley gets it so wrong.

Lady Gaga

Surprisingly, Lady Gaga does not identify as a feminist. That’s right – after everything she’s said about LGBT rights and bullying, Gaga said:

“I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars…”

GAGA! Get it right! Feminism does not equal hating men! It just means men and women should have equal rights.

Taylor Swift

Following the release of her album ‘Red’ in 2012, Swift was asked, “Do you consider yourself a feminist?” in an interview with The Daily Beast.

Though many of her songs are labelled as inspiring female anthems, and she makes a point of standing up for girls, Swift has clearly never looked up the actual definition of feminism. Her answer, somewhat disappointingly, was:

“I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life”.

That’s the point Taylor! It’s not guys versus girls – feminism is all about equality!


She may seem like the ideal pin-up girl of feminists everywhere, but Beyoncé is actually a very hesitant feminist. She said some amazing things about feminism and equality, but this quote, from a 2013 Vogue interview, is disheartening:

“I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman… I do believe in equality and that we have a way to go and it’s something that’s pushed aside and something that we have been conditioned to accept”.

Her essay for the 2013 Shriver Report appeared to cement her status as a fierce feminist, but Jay-Z’s wife has come under a lot of pressure for both her song lyrics and her husband’s.

Katy Perry

Perry’s misunderstanding of the word feminism is so terrible, it’s actually quite amusing.

Accepting the Billboard Woman of the Year Award in 2012, Perry said:

“I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women… This social revolution of feminism in the ’70s really achieved so many of its goals—not every single one of them, obviously—but I think we should say it’s great that these young women don’t feel like they need to be feminists”.

Hmm. Ok, Katy. She changed her mind earlier this year, but still got it all wrong.

“A feminist? Um, yeah, actually. I used to not really understand what that word meant, and now that I do, it just means that I love myself as a female and I also love men.”

Will someone please just tell Perry what feminism means?!

Kelly Clarkson

Another disappointment is Kelly Clarkson, who clearly believes every stereotype she has ever heard about feminists. Asked if she considers herself a feminist, Clarkson said:

“No, I wouldn’t say feminist — that’s too strong. I think when people hear feminist, it’s like, “Get out of my way, I don’t need anyone.” I love that I’m being taken care of, and I have a man that’s a leader. I’m not a feminist in that sense … but I’ve worked really hard since I was 19, when I first auditioned for Idol”.

No Kelly, no! You are a feminist! Just listen to your own song lyrics! Mr Know It All springs to mind… “Can’t nobody tell me how it’s gonna be/ Nobody’s gonna make a fool out of me/ Baby you should know that I lead not follow”…

Carrie Underwood

Yet another American country singer has mistakenly defined feminism as a negative term.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am a feminist, that can come off as a negative connotation. But I am a strong female”.

What is sad is that in this quote, by refusing to identity as a feminist, Underwood is simply adding to that negative image of feminism.

Geri Halliwell

The Spice Girls was a group famous for empowering women. One of its members doesn’t identify as a feminist though. In an interview, Geri Halliwell said:

“It’s about labelling. For me feminism is bra-burning lesbianism. It’s very unglamorous. I’d like to see it rebranded. We need to see a celebration of our femininity and softness”.

Um, ok Geri. Whatever you say.

Maybe she should be more like Kate Nash…

Farrah Abraham

And the best quote of all goes to ‘Teen Mom’ star Farrah Abraham. Asked if she considered herself a feminist, Abraham responded:

“I’m pretty feminine. I think so.”

The reporter then clarified that they meant feminist, not feminine, to which Abraham replied:

“What does that mean, you’re a lesbian or something?”

Just, wow.











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Beth Rowland


First year English and History student, aspiring journalist. If journalism fails, Strictly Come Dancing is the dream. Check out my blog at theyoungandqwerty@blogspot.co.uk
Harriet Dunlea is Campus Correspondent and Co-Editor in Chief of Her Campus Nottingham. She is a final year English student at the University of Nottingham. Her passion for student journalism derives from her too-nosey-for-her-own-good nature.