Surprise, surprise, Emma Watson was voted “top feminist” of 2014 in a Ms. Foundation for Women online poll. Emma, who gave that incredible speech at the U.N. in September, helped start and bolster the #HeForShe campaign, and aided in demolishing the notion that “feminism” is a bad word. She’s also just impeccably brilliant. “I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop,” she boldly stated. And this is just one of many, many Emma Watson nuggets of wisdom. There’s just one thing, though: did we really need to crown someone as “top feminist”?
In fact, according to E Online, there’s even a Top 10 list. Here it is:
1. Emma Watson
2. Laverne Cox
3. Rachel Maddow
6. Amy Poehler
7. Tina Fey
8. Meryl Streep
9. Mindy Kaling
10. Ann Curry
It’s so great that we’re recognizing these amazing, smart women. It’s equally wonderful that we’re recognizing feminism as a positive idea, and that we’re encouraging a conversation about it. The “F” word is becoming less and less of a negative term, and that is totally a good, progressive thing. However, is ranking celebrity feminists steering us away from the right direction? I know the idea behind the Ms. Foundation for Women poll was to celebrate ten women who really contributed to the feminist revolution, but I’m not so sure we should be calculating who is the best feminist, or who outranks who.
Instead of discussing the feminist movement, will people be wondering why Cher is supposedly a better feminist than Amy Poehler? Remember, feminism is not a competition. When we say “So And So is the best feminist,” we’re alluding to the idea that there can be a “best” feminist. That there are some feminists “better” than others. And that’s simply untrue.
In her defense, Teresa Younger, Ms. Foundation President and CEO, stated, “We celebrate all feminists every day, but today we’re giving a hat tip to celebrities who are helping to promote women’s equality. . .Every celebrity on the list has either embraced the term ‘feminist,’ spoken out for women’s equal rights, or battled against sexual oppression.”
And of course we should tip our hats to these celebrities. They are amazing. We are so stoked that women like Emma Watson are leading such an important cause and embracing the word “feminist.” However, does this really need to be awarded? Is that sending out the right message? We’re not so sure. But we do hope that 2015 is just as prolific (if not more) for feminism and advocating for the equality of the sexes.