• Mon, Dec 3 2012

Geri Halliwell Defines Feminism As “Bra-Burning Lesbianism”

It’s time for a confession: we always kind of liked the Spice Girls. Even when we were a little old for them and (wanted to be) a little too cool for them, we were still under the bubbly, stupid, infectious spell of Ginger, Posh, Baby, Scary and Sporty. Moreover, “Say You’ll Be There” is so untouchably great that any member of the band could come out and admit she eats babies to boost collagen or something and we’d still like that song.

…Unfortunately, Ginger Spice just dented the Spice Girls’ girl power legacy pretty deep.

The Guardian sat down with Geri Halliwell, the once and forever Ginger Spice, and asked her whether or not she considers herself a feminist. As we know from experience, anytime a famous lady (who has obviously and inarguably benefited from feminism) is asked whether or not she considers herself a feminist, we brace for a very bad and thoughtless response.

Here goes:

The question clearly hits a nerve: what, she asks quickly, do I mean by feminism? Well, I tell her, for me feminism is about the fact that women still aren’t treated equally, which raises issues of justice. OK, concedes Halliwell, maybe she is a feminist: but she has a few distinct caveats. One objection seems to be that she fears feminism will emasculate and demoralise men: but her bigger problem is its image. “It’s about labelling. For me feminism is bra-burning lesbianism. It’s very unglamorous. I’d like to see it rebranded. We need to see a celebration of our femininity and softness.”

There are murmurs from her entourage, and Halliwell shoots them a glance. “There you go,” she tells me, in the manner of one who has given a bit too much away. “That’s your headline. ‘Geri Halliwell says feminists are all bra-burners’.”

It does not seem much of a scoop to me, but this is celebrity-land, a place where every tiny bit of information is gold dust. I’m not surprised to hear her reduce feminism to a few specific (and negative) characteristics, because Halliwell’s entire career has been about branding, about tags and slogans rather than substance.

There’s our headline indeed. Or maybe just, Et tu, Ginger?

Look, on the one hand, we kind of understand what she means–that the popular understanding of feminism isn’t always flattering (or accurate). Fine. Whatever. If she wants to put glamorousness above equality–whether or not that’s fucking dumb–feminism has enabled her to make that decision. But the bit about feminism emasculating men is the oldest straw man in the book.

Even if there’s anything remotely reasonable deep down inside that statement, though, it’s certainly buried by the very explicit homophobia of using “lesbianism” as a pejorative. What the fuck, Ginger? That apology and clarification better be forthcoming.

(via The Guardian, Photo via Wenn)

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  • Cee

    While I’m truly not a big fan of calling out ever female celebrity that doesn’t define themselves as a feminist (because their apologies after these comments are not sincere and probably makes them less interested in it), this is pretty disgusting.

    • http://thegloss.com/ Ashley Cardiff

      I’m actually quite ambivalent about it too. I don’t give a shit whether or not people identify as feminists–but I do give a shit when they nurture misleading conceptions (like man hating) or couch a criticism of lesbianism (inexplicably) in a criticism of feminism.

  • S.

    You guys missed the point of her argument. She thinks that it has to be rebranded, because that’s how it’s commonly perceived–bra burning lesbianism. She’s pointing out that the term carries negative connotations.

  • Mo Coop

    Nooooo! SPICE WORLD IS A LIE!! This actually makes me sad (spice).