It’s a word that’s constantly banded around, but what does the term ‘feminist’ really mean? And what does it mean to the modern generation?
Well, according to recent research, millennial women not only have a deep personal commitment to feminism, but they also have a thorough understanding of how it plays into everything they do.
We asked Scarlett Curtis, author of Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, a collection of writing curated from a diverse and brilliant group of young women, from activists such as Alicia Garzia and Nimco Ali, to Hollywood stars Keirnan Shipka and Saoirse Ronan, to break down what it means to be a feminist in a millennial world.
“We were told the fight was over, that we had won. In the 90s, I was born into a comfortable life and told this was a new world, that all were equal, that I could grow up and be whoever I wanted. At school I learned that the Suffragettes won it for us, that some women in the 60’s burned their bras to finish the job and that Madonna put the cherry on top.
And then we grew up – Millennials and Generation Z became teenagers and realised that not everything was quite as equal as we had been promised. We felt inequality in our classrooms, we saw it in the workplaces we were about to enter. We see it every day in the media. We realised that despite what our parents had told us, life for our sisters wasn’t quite the same as it was for our brothers. We realised the war wasn’t over. We realised it had barely begun.
Generation Z represent a new type of feminist; one raised on the promise of equality only to discover that the world is far from fair, and the responsibility lies on us to fix it. We are at the beginning of a feminist uprising among young women but many of them still don’t know what it means. The gap between the feminist Instagram post and the scholarly text is growing wider and wider and there is currently very little out there to bridge it. This book can be the bridge between pop feminism and academic feminism; the link between the hashtag and Betty Friedan. This book will provide a range of young faces of feminism. It will speak to the contradictions and complications at the heart of the movement. It will speak to everyone.
Celebrity feminism has proliferated in pop culture over the past few years. Feminism has never been more attractive or more ‘on brand’ and yet many of the young female celebrities being looked at to lead the movement have not yet had the chance to express their feminism in a clear and safe format. They rely on snippets in interviews or Instagram posts to tell the public their views, which very often can lead to a confusion or misrepresentation of their opinions and subsequent hounding in the press.
My book will be a way for a group of unprecedentedly powerful young women to align themselves with feminism in a safe and personal space. Black feminism is different from white feminism is different from trans feminism is different from fat feminism. We need to hear stories from all these perspectives but these stories can’t just exist in a textbook. My book will be intersectional feminism at its most collaborative and understandable. It will be an entryway into the movement and a bible for those already in it.
Many young girls know that they are feminists (because Beyonce told them to be) but don’t quite understand why or actually – if they’re being perfectly honest – what that term means. I have three younger brothers all of whom proudly declared their allegiance to the movement as soon as I began lecturing them on equal pay over breakfast. One evening after trying to explain the complexities of post-feminism to my ten year old brother he turned to me with a large frown.
“The thing is Scar,” he said “lots of girls do actually really like pink.” He was right, of course, I myself have pink hair and a feminist agenda longer than War and Peace. However his statement spoke to a larger issue which is that we have never seen: a young generation inspired by the feminist movement, some of which are also clueless as to what it actually means. And also, that it means different things to different people. But we never really talk about it.
Every woman in the world has a different route to their personal understanding of feminism; many still aren’t there yet. But this book will be an inspirational tool for young women everywhere to share how they found their voice.”
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies): Amazing women on what the F word means to them is published by Penguin and available to pre-order now.