The Unexpected Feminist

Amanda Marcotte asked yesterday who are the feminists you’d most like to have a beer with, which got  me thinking. My kneejerk reaction was to go historical (I chose George Sands…mostly based on Impromptu–a movie I can’t recommend, yet wholeheartedly love. If you want to see all the clips of that movie where she wears pants, accompanied by the Scissor Sisters, do click here). And after reading Latoya Peterson’s amazing piece about race, celebrity, and the feminist blogosphere, I started thinking feminism outside of the blog. Usually, I’m lamenting that there aren’t enough mainstream people toting their feminism, and that my big feminist fantasy is a culture of stories (our TV, movies, radio, novels, all of it) where women have equal space (and to Latoya’s piece, what an insane luxury I have in knowing that if the impossible happened and women did receive equity in our entertainment culture, the majority of them would look like me (white)…). But there are some mainstream feminists that I would love to have a beer with, people who perhaps have not mentioned their feminism in mainstream media, but where, in outlets they control more directly (like Twitter) have outed themselves as people that make me feel better about the world.

So, here’s a starter list of folks usually just being rad, and then making me swoon even more with their feminist swagger:

  1. Robyn: That rare thing, a 30-year-old pop star who doesn’t make you hate the music industry and it’s insistence on putting all starlets in leather chaps at some point. Her music is dance-around-the-living-room ready, her lyrics are all about a kind of personal awesome, traveling alone, fully enjoying sex, boundaries, enjoying confidence, and being a badass. She demands that the next Pope be black, and also a woman. And if you weren’t listening, you would think she was just telling you to dance. She is also the official Hairpin sweetheart.  I kind of think of her as feminist Viactiv, with good politics instead of calcium, and dance pop fizz instead of chocolate. I don’t have to feel guilty, preachy, serious, or compromised about loving her, or her hair.
  2. Neko Case: I want to have a beer with Neko Case all the time. She once said in an interview that in a studio where she records the sound engineer gave her the esteem of being the only artist besides Nelly Furtado that didn’t use AutoTune. And her voice will make your heart stop for a second. And she writes about foxes and wolves and street gangs, which will all also make your heart stop for a second. And she talks about how dudes never hit on her while on tour, and she would have appreciated some equal opportunity toursex. And she lives in Tucson, my hometown.  And she stands with Planned Parenthood. And you can win her muscle car. And if we can’t all have a beer with her, then we should all just dye our hair red and emulate her as much as possible, because she very well might be the raddest.
  3. John Darnielle, of The Mountain Goats. Balls out wonderful. I would have said this before reading his tweets, but now I am over the moon. Like Case, I was already in the fan club, but the absurd elation at finding out that he was not only a Twitter pleasure but also a loud feminist was like, well, it was like seeing Pemberley. And he live-tweeted watching Fiddler on the Roof, where he kept crying. If we have a beer together, I hope it would be while watching another tearjerk…maybe Cinema Paradiso?
  4. Christy Turlington Burns. This one surprised me. I never thought I would think about Christy Turlington, let alone want to drink with her. While not as cool as my top 3 beer friends above (she’s a supermodel, for goddsakes), she’s an unexpected, and powerful, advocate for global maternal healthcare. She made a documentary called No Woman No Cry, which I fully expected to be something akin to Aldous Snow’s “African Child” video, but it wasn’t. It was a powerful look at unexpected situations of maternal tragedy, and admirably complex in its scope, ranging from the the lack of obstetric resources in Tanzania to abortion care in Guatemala. Also, it shows how the selfish can stem the political, as the documentary starts with Turlington’s own incredibly privileged and traumatic birth, which led her to wonder what the circumstances were for women who weren’t supermodels. She’s not a dilettante in her cause. While I bet she doesn’t drink beer, I’m a fan.
  5. The fifth spot here is still pending. I’m not sure who will out themselves next…As much as Twitter shows us the grandiose slip-of-the-tongues of our celebrities when they do melt down, it also can also add some healthy flesh to their veneer. We get to sometimes see the things that their publicist has removed or deemed irrelevant…and maybe this is how more feminism, maybe even more humanity will be normalized…or maybe it is how I can simply keep adding luminaries to my personal internet choir where everybody agrees with me all the time.  I want to get happily surprised by all of them. And to keep thinking of beer.