We tend to have individual(s) whom we look up to. People who bring influence to our lifestyle, the way we dress, our taste in music, the way we talk, the books we read, the trends we choose to follow, etc. Throughout my life, I have been surrounded with strong women. My mom, my maternal grandma, my dear good girlfriends, and the sisterhood bond I have from my home-church. I also am fascinated with several female public figures coming from political industry, entertainment industry, business industry, etc. It’s always amazed me to read their life stories and what they have contributed to the world – which makes them to be seen as “great woman”.
This post is correspondingly dedicated as we celebrated “International Women’s Day” last month, referencing from the three (3) celebrities that I subjectively see to bring influence in my own personal life. The reason why I focus on celebrities are simply because this certain group brings so much impact in my everyday life as a millennial living in urban environment – from lifestyle, taste, and modern value. Moreover, these three (3) celebrities are publicly identified as “feminists” – a controversial movement that has shaped the kind of vibrant culture in today’s world.
Named Beyoncé Giselle Knowles at birth, people nowadays recognize for her persona “Queen Bey”. She was firstly known for her group, “Destiny Child” – which was one of the top selling recording acts of the late 90’s with Top 10 Hit singles, before she decided to go for a solo career and produced many hit singles by her own. An American singer, songwriter, actress and entrepreneur with a total of 20 awards and 53 nominations from the Grammys, Beyonce is the most nominated woman in Grammy history – making her to be the most powerful celebrity in 2014.
The Movement: Numerous songs from Beyonce specifically promoting and inspiring feminism, which to my favorites are, Flawless, Run The World (Girls), Formation – where she got to perform in Super Bowl 2016, and her latest visual album Lemonade – which describes her blueprint to better live, struggle and dream. Beyonce has deliberately opened up to show to the world her stance on feminism, using her spoken words on the lyrics, fashion attitude, and woman-empowerment movement. She clearly understands that her influence on pop-culture brings huge influence towards reinventing the social value.
In 2014, Beyonce contributed to the Shriver’s Report special editions, A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, with her essay entitled “Gender Equality Is a Myth!“. The essay directly pointed out how she called for both men and women to join forces against workplace inequality, stating that equality meant for equal pay and equal respect. The powerful pieces of statement received huge amount of positive response from many societies especially in America. CNN commented that the essay was a reflection to portray her songs in empowering womanhood and feminism, and that the contribution is important towards the Shriver’s report, in exploring the rates of financial insecurity among American women and to offer solutions for change basing from the investigated impact.
2. Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Shrader Lawrence is an Academic-Award Winning American Actress who gained wider recognition from a role in the X-Men: First Class (2011) as a mutant named Mystique, and established herself being best known from the 15th highest-grossing film franchise of all time – The Hunger Games (2012-15) with the main character as Katniss Everdeen. She also won her role as best supporting actress in Oscar Awards Nominee – American Hustle (2013) as Rosalyn Rosenfeld. In 2015, According to Forbes, JLaw led to be the World’s Highest-Paid Actress with $52 Million.
The Movement: In October 2015, Jennifer Lawrence wrote a compelling powerful essay for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter e-newsletter, entitled “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?”. The essay which discussed on gender pay inequality has received praises from many fellow actors, like, Emma Watson, Julia Roberts, Daniel Radcliffe, Bradley Cooper (who happened to be her co-star), etc for drawing attention to the issue. Lawrence wrote in response towards the hacked-Sony email, where Lawrence got paid 2% less from her two male co-stars, Christian Bale & Bradley Cooper – in a movie which got nominated by Oscar “American Hustle”. She kept quiet at the beginning when the leaked email revealed, before published the essay where she explained that she hesitated to negotiate aggressively because she didn’t want to come across as “difficult” or “spoiled” something that she concerned that probably is linked to gender conditioning.
Such brutally honest essay mentioned how less she got paid comparing to the “lucky people with dicks”, and pitched thought-provoking questions, “are we socially conditioned to behaved this way?” “could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t ‘offend’ or ‘scare’ men?”. This then raised many public debates with the issue of wage inequality in Hollywood industry, that even an A-list actress who won Golden Globes and Academy Awards like Jennifer Lawrence raised her voice against unfair practice towards gender imbalance.
3. Emma Watson
Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson is widely known for her character of Hermione Granger in the hugely successful Harry Potter film franchise, which made her to be one of the most well-known and highest paid actresses under the age of 30 in the world earning £10 million. Apart from her career in acting, Emma Watson has been the “face” of Burberry and Lancome, and named Elle’s style icon of the year in 2014. In 2015, Watson placed at the top of its list of the Top 99 Outstanding Women and has been recognized as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in the same year.
The Movement: Emma proudly proclaimed herself to be a feminist, as this can be reflected from her involvement by being appointed as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in July 2014. Two (2) months later, she delivered a thoughtful, well-expressed, and inspiring speech at UN Headquarters in New York City to launch the UN Campaign ‘HeForShe‘, which passionately invite to all men to actively join on the gender equality conversation. The campaign grew influence ever since where in January 2015, at the World Economic Forum (Davos, 2015) – HeForShe extended its work by unveiled a 1-year pilot initiative to stimulate momentum in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment called, IMPACT 10x10x10. The aim of the initiative is to engage governments, corporations, and universities as instruments of change within the communities with certain levels of influence. Each sector is expected to identify ways in addressing gender inequality. Watson is being seen to sit side by side with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon as well as Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka – Executive Director of UN Women when delivering the launched speech of 10x10x10 intiative.
I take pride to say that I am a feminist and I believe on its movement. I am a strong believer and a bold supporter that women should be treated equally especially in 3 areas: workplace, marriage, and education. I find it intolerable to people who presume that “feminism” is about women showing off their power, rejecting chivalry, or taking a greater role against what perceived as “it’s a man’s job” because the reality is far more different than it is. Of all opinions, thoughts and facts defining this disputable word of “feminism”, I personally view it as a ground-breaking advocacy towards the liberation of women’s inequalities and transforming the old-fashion attitude in society. It’s a significant element needs to be pursue in a big picture of Human Rights. A consequential motion against stereotyping and a call-to-action in opposing discrimination on social role.
Feminist need to be seen as one of the movements in achieving human equal right. No matter what you do, and who you are, use your level of influence to promote gender equality. Be the change-maker to make the world a better place to live in.