Listening To Problematic Media Doesn't Mean You Can't Also Be A Feminist

Listening To Problematic Media Doesn't Mean You Can't Also Be A Feminist

Being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t have fun -- it just means you respect other people during it.

On a Saturday night, you will definitely find me dancing to rap music. When I’m watching “How I Met Your Mother,” there’s no doubt my go-to episode is probably “The Playbook.” However, I am also a feminist. I’m not alone in having these interests and also identifying this way. It’s indeed possible to encompass it all without being a hypocrite.

I’m not okay with lyrics in which men take claim to women’s bodies. Not only are those lyrics disrespectful, but they play into the pyramid of rape culture in which every “little” comment or action or remark makes a real impact.

I’m not okay with TV shows that joke about getting women drunk and taking them home, or manipulating them into doing something we don’t know if they actually want. These are serious issues and traumas that affect people every day.

However, I love the beat of rap music. I love what initially feels like the mindless humor of HIMYM and the wild creativity and superfluous effort that Barney puts into talking to women. I love the relationship between Lily and Marshall: the nicknames they give each other (aka Lilypad and Marshmallow), the ways they can read each other’s minds, their love for each other, and their sense of humor.

I’m going to continue to listen to and dance to rap music; I’m going to keep watching HIMYM. Some songs I have too much of a problem with -- like Blurred Lines, for example -- and that’s valid too.

What I’ve learned from other feminists and what I believe myself is we must be willing to have conversations about how these certain mediums are problematic. We can’t blindly love all songs and shows we come across without thinking critically.

Critical thinking is what brought me to rap songs and HIMYM -- sometimes it’s nice to not really feel anything and to watch a comedy after a long day -- but these conversations are too rare and too important for us to constantly leave the table. Some days may be better for these conversations than others -- you don’t have to fight the hard fight every day -- but we must put in effort and try. We must open up our conversations to people who wouldn’t typically have them and to people who may not run in the same circles that we do.

For example, I love Taylor Swift’s music, but let’s talk about how her “Blank Space” music video romanticizes relationship violence. “Tangled” is one of my favorite Disney movies, but let’s talk about how its song “Mother Knows Best” introduces another very real form of relationship violence -- emotional manipulation and isolation from a parent -- into a Disney movie for kids without fully addressing the issue responsibly.

One of the first times I was introduced to the concept of problematic media wiggling its way into where we wouldn’t expect it, I felt beaten down. This world can be a tough one to be in -- reminders of sexual harassment everywhere we turn, relationships that turn sour, you name it -- and the last thing I wanted to hear about is how every song and TV show I love and turn to in times of stress and in times of fun is problematic.

We can have hope, though: artists everywhere are creating magazines, songs, and movies, et cetera that embrace the kind of material we want in our lives. Check out Bitch Media, Everyday Feminism, and Adios Barbie; check out Ms. Magazine and Feministing. Listen to Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” and Demi Lovato’s “Confident” and Hailee Steinfeld’s “Love Myself.” Watch Mulan and so many others.

Create your own art, too! Become a filmmaker, contribute to The Siren at UNC or create another feminist magazine at your school, write poetry and music that embraces respect and healthy love, make jokes that don’t disrespect a certain group’s existence. The options are endless.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t have fun -- it just means you respect other people during it.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Popular Right Now

9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.

2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.

4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

Related Content

Facebook Comments