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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  • Lulu

    People are clueless when they claim “feminism” needs a better PR. Who the hell are you following. Countless feminist around the world are fighting against the injustice burdened upon women. People (men) always want to discredit feminism and give it a bad name because they HATE any movement that questions and dare I say defies their privildge and status quo in society!

    Many women are reluctant to be called “feminist” because some of them secretly thinks this will make them less feminine. Seems like some of them do not like the idea of a “strong” woman either.

    • Wello

      very true

      its more to do with stereotypes that what actual feminist are doing. there are so many doing wonderful things but the media doesn’t report it and those that have issues with feminism won’t bring it up.its only when something questionable happens you hear something but that only to further perpetuate the negative stereotypes than to give a real insight into feminism.

      how do you get anti-feminist news outlets and people to portray and speak of a more accurate representation of feminism? i think this is a huge part of the problem as well.
      it doesn’t matter how many wonderful things feminist do with this wall in place
      i think there needs to be proper education in what feminism is and in doing so i hope it breaks down that wall

  • isolde

    On the one hand, I put as much stock in Skeri Hilson’s opinions as I do Lil Wayne’s, but at the same time, I do realize that she has some sort of platform, and that her comments are indicative of an attitude at large. I think she’s reluctant to call herself a feminist because she doesn’t want to be held to any type of “higher” or particular standard, like you know, why Michael Jordan never became political . . . because republicans and democrats buy sneakers?

    After declaring herself a feminist, Diablo Cody (Juno screenwriter) caught a lot of flack for much of the themes and imagery in her second film, “Jennifer’s Body,” flack that she probably wouldn’t have caught had she not declared herself an ally and a feminist. I’m convinced that the feminist backlash against the picture on blogs affected box office ticked sales. If Nicki Minaj were to declare herself a feminist, she would probably get called out more often for her antics than she does now. I could see someone like Beyonce not coming out and proclaiming herself a feminist, because her entire image is based on mass appeal, but Keri is a minor artist, and the “feminist” tag, would hardly have a negative impact on her sales because it’s not like she has the potential to shift units like Beyonce anyway. When you’re a minor star and no one’s really checking for you, then you have more latitude to take risks. Wearing the feminist tag may even be a good marketing ploy for Keri and expose her to a new market, if she started getting coverage on some of the feminist blogs.

  • i dont really care what keri hilson opts to describe herself as, but i have a problem with her equating feminism with Nazism. is she serious? she wouldnt be able to make her music if it wasnt for trailblazing feminist artists like Queen Latifah. i totally agree with the questions raised by the article… why does feminism have a bad connotation? websters defines it as ‘the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.’ that sounds like what keri hilson just said to me. she sounds pretty ignorant in her statements… just another reason for me to not listen to her music


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