It is no doubt a tumultuous time in our society today with politically contentious discourse emerging about women’s rights from #metoo to Dr Christine Blasey-Ford. Social media has lit up with relevant commentary either deriding or commending this movement to acknowledge and believe women’s accounts. Recently, three of the biggest modern female pop stars – Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – have lent their powerhouse voices to the debate through varying public statements.
Taylor Swift, previously known for being publicly apolitical, made the unexpected move of posting on Instagram outlining the egregious ways that Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn has acted contrary to women’s and LGBT rights and encouraging Americans to register to vote. Taylor described her fans, predominantly young women and teenage girls, as “intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people” capable of becoming agents of change. According to Vanity Fair, 65 000 new US voters registered nationally in the next 24 hours.
|Image Source: Instagram|
Lady Gaga stunned audiences last week during her interview with Stephen Colbert as she insightfully discussed her own experiences of trauma and disassociation in the wake of sexual abuse. On World Mental Health Day, Gaga opened up about her diagnosis of PTSD whilst urging greater financial support and compassion for those struggling with mental illness. Her nuanced perspective revealed a vulnerability and empathy transcending her usually impenetrable visage of confidence.
|Image Source: Esquire|
Beyonce solidified her position as a true activist last December when she advocated for social justice in America whilst she presented an award to Colin Kaepernick. Queen Bey identified her passion to “change perception, to change the way we treat each other, especially people of colour who are still waiting for the world to catch up”. Previously, she protested police brutality and racism by inviting the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Mike Brown and Eric Garner to the MTV Video Music Awards in 2016.
|Image Source: W Magazine|
Cynics may suggest that the motivation of these women to speak out may be capitalist or publicity endeavours. Furthermore, there are a multitude of legitimate criticisms of non-inclusivity and their tendency to pander to the ‘male gaze’ in their approaches to feminism. However, I wonder if female celebrities are unfairly judged as too shallow or sexualised to contribute meaningfully to political discourse. Every woman deserves to have their voice heard whilst being given the opportunity to learn and grow in their activism.
Although perhaps less informed or qualified than others, these pop stars are afforded a more powerful position due to their popularity and international fanbases. Taylor Swift reflected upon her symbolic court victory against a man whom groped her: “I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this … My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard.”
It is essential to consider the personal and emotional impact for women who have been affected by these issues to see that an icon has struggled similarly. In this technological age, these stars have an unprecedented ability to instantly influence millions of people and I for one am grateful that they have chosen to wield this power to empower women.
By: Bethany Laura
Editor's Note: It's important to remember that, while celebrity voices have amplified it, the #MeToo movement was first started by Tarana Burke, a black woman working with victims of sexual assault. To learn more about the movement's founder, click here.
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