Lately, Keri Hilson has been very in-your-face about her womanhood. From her dainty pop anthem, “Pretty Girl Rock,” to the overtly sexual, “The Way You Love Me,” Hilson has been very pro-female liberation lately. Whether she’s singing about ignoring haters or taking charge of your sexual needs, Keri seems to always ride for the ladies. With all that uninhibited girl power coursing through her songs, you’d think Hilson would proudly wave the feminist flag, except she’s not quite sure if the label fits.

In an interview with My Yearbook, reporter Kate Heath asked the singer, “Your album aims to be very empowering to all women. Would you call yourself a feminist?”

Although she wants women to be inspired by her music and find comfort in her lyrics, Hilson isn’t quite sure she’s a feminist.

“I don’t know. That word has been tossed around a few times. I absolutely stand for women’s rights – I do. I also believe in empowerment and just owning and controlling your situation – be it your relationships, sexuality or confidence — and then not allowing anyone to take that. If any of that puts me into the feminist box, then I’m proudly there.

But I’m not a Nazi with it. I just feel strongly that women lack the confidence that we need in this day and time. Everyone is seeking validation from expensive things like heels and handbags and hair weaves, or other women and other men. I just feel that I would like to see that over. I do it because it’s my job. I don’t do it because I believe that it makes me who I am. I know that comes from within.”

As Jezebel contributor Dodai Stewart correctly pointed out, “It’s obvious that [Hilson] has a feminist outlook on life, and it’s also obvious she is rather reluctant to be called (or call herself) a ‘feminist.’”

But why?

Why in 2011 when so many of us have benefitted from both the civil rights and feminist movements do some women (especially Black women) struggle with claiming the “feminist” label for their own?

The problem mostly likely lies in perception. For many, the term “feminist” is a dirty word associated with man-hating, hairy, (white) women. However, women of color (and even some men) have a long tradition of being proud feminists.

As writer Jamilah Lemieux asserted, “feminism needs better PR.” Perhaps if more people understood what feminism really is—the struggle to end sexism and sexist practices for all people (not just a certain group of women)—then they’d be more inclined to line up and be counted as full-fledged feminists.

What do you think? Why do women have a hard time calling themselves feminists?

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