Dior, a leading design house that was established in 1946, appointed its first ever woman creative director in 2016. Maria Grazia Chuiri, the newly appointed designer at the helm of one of the leading brands had a surprise in store for the fashion industry. “We should all be feminists”, screamed the most talked about look from Chuiri’s debut collection for Dior. Perhaps it was a leaf taken out of a book of the same name, written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or perhaps not. Either way, Dior’s dynamic creative director sent a ball rolling. Following in her footsteps, several other designers, such as Prabal Gurung paid their tributes to women through their work.
It is not uncommon for the fields of fashion, art, cinema and literature to take a powerful, collective stand for the need of the hour, whatever it may be. In these turbulent times that scream more about the disoriented political climate than anything else, the slogan is inspiring, to say the least. We should all be feminists, because we can be.
In 1985, Margaret Atwood wrote her famous novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale”; even she wouldn’t have thought that thirty years later, her work of fiction would prove to be an almost accurate commentary on the condition of women across the globe. To summarize, the book talks about a fictional republic where women are forced to give up their existing rights, jobs, opinions and forced to conceive children for the leading men of the society, the elite. Though Atwood has always had a strong voice on the subject of feminism, this one book in particular touches close to the reality we are currently living in. In today’s politically heated climate with its constant fight for rights, it’s rather easy to draw parallels to the marches, suppression, and the absence of liberty mentioned by the writer in her dystopian world. This brings us to the big question – why does feminism have to be perceived as a negative word after all this time? A word to word definition would surmise: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Equality. In all probability, you have had heard it before, cited your opinion in both the real world and the virtual, and moved on. But how many times have you been forced to be defensive when tagged as a feminist?
Throughout the 20th and 21st century, women in various fields have rebelled against the existing norms and stereotypes to lead the life they deserved: In the 1930’s, Marlene Dietrich famously ditched conventional attires to don trousers which were still prohibited for women, while Coco Chanel went on to design liberating clothing which were against the existing norms of the society. Gloria Steinem, often known as the ‘mother of feminism’ has been a major influence in the movement since the 1960’s, so much so that she was awarded the Presidential Medal of freedom in 2013. Through literature, public speaking and glorious initiatives that promote women’s development, women such as Coretta Scott King, Simone De Beauvoir and Malala Yousafzai have worked tirelessly to rally for feminism. From then to now, the term itself has become so inclusive that it is baseless to attach any negative connotations to it. You could be a 25-year-old housewife or a lawyer or both, a 40-year-old banker, an 80-year-old author or just about anyone who believes in equal rights and the freedom for everyone, yes everyone, to lead a life they want. If you believe in either of these things, you are a feminist. And I don’t see how that could be a bad thing.
Clearly, we should all be feminists, because we can be.