Geri Halliwell is not a feminist but…

// 25 October 2007

Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell is interviewed in The Guardian today.

She speaks out about her recent work for the UN and her travels to Zambia in order to draw attention to the plight of pregnant women with limited access to healthcare. So is she a feminist?

The question clearly hits a nerve: what, she asks quickly, do I mean by feminism? Well, I tell her, for me feminism is about the fact that women still aren’t treated equally, which raises issues of justice. OK, concedes Halliwell, maybe she is a feminist: but she has a few distinct caveats. One objection seems to be that she fears feminism will emasculate and demoralise men: but her bigger problem is its image. “It’s about labelling. For me feminism is bra-burning lesbianism. It’s very unglamorous.”

Oh Geri, you have been sucked in by the patriarchy’s attempts to silence feminism. You are obviously a feminist, but you don’t want to be labelled as such because you fear that people will suddenly see you as a bra-burning maniac. The idea that women can’t believe in a really rather sensible ideology without having their sanity and attractiveness called into question is fundamentally oppressive, and just the sort of thing we should be fighting against, not bowing down to. Please don’t be afraid to call yourself a feminist, because this is clearly what you are and it’s something to be proud of.

Also, feminism is not about demoralising men – to do so is as bad as demoralising women. And as for “emasculation”, if a man’s definition of masculinity involves raping, beating and lacking respect for women, I am happy to emasculate him without a second thought.

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