Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lips Unsealed

There's a review up of Belinda Carlisle's Lips Unsealed, her memoir about her time in the music business.  What got my attention about this review is that it asserts that Carlisle was a feminist without using the term feminist. 
This always brings up an important issue in feminism: does one have to identify as a feminist to be one? 
There's lots of things about Carlisle in this review that makes me feel like she is: she has meaningful friendships with women, she creates art that makes her happy, and she isn't interested in worshiping men, even the rock star kind.  But the review makes a point of saying that she isn't one, which makes me wonder if she doesn't identify as one.
There are some good and bad reasons not to identify as a feminist.  The bad ones include certain misogynistic politicians who liken feminism to every negative thing they can think of involving women.  Buying into that logic and shying away from feminism just because of the misogynistic rhetoric that paints broad strokes against it only aids the enemy here, so that's no good.  Not liking feminism because some self-identified feminists are racist, homophobic, ableist, etc., is a good reason, since sadly, there are "feminists" out there like that.  Although I view feminism as another way to break power structures, a kin to fighting racism or being an LBGT ally, not everyone sees it that way, or uses it as a way to maintain things like white privilege (just, you know, a white privilege that includes white women.) 
And then, of course, there's the flip of the coin: people who consider themselves feminist but are anything but.  I could name some of them, but if you're reading this, you probably don't need help.  You already know them: people who claim feminism as a philosophy or political belief but then espouse things like not funding rape kits for hospitals or pushing the women in their personal lives around or carrying on about how women should work harder at being sexy for their husbands, etc.  It's annoying to say the least. 
I hope, since I'm coming to admire certain things about Carlisle (having sex only when she wants to!) that she does identify as a feminist, at least now, because the movement needs women like her, the kind that are independent and understand what the entire point of feminism is. 

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