Sarah Jessica Parker Is Neither A Feminist Nor A Fan Of Using Words Correctly
In an interview with Cosmopolitan for their August issue, actress Sarah Jessica Parker was asked – as is now custom – about her feelings on feminism. Unsurprisingly, she does not consider herself a feminist.
Maybe I’m wrong here, but there are few things I am interested in less than Sarah Jessica Parker’s reasons for not considering herself a feminist. Said things are perhaps whatever those shoes she’s into are called, and artisanal cupcakes.
However, there are a few things in her response that I would like to address.
On being a humanist and not a feminist: “As [playwright] Wendy Wasserstein would say, I’m a humanist. I’m enormously appreciative of the work that my mother’s generation did. We are the beneficiaries of a lot of disappointment, heartache, discouragement, and misunderstanding. But I see a lot of people trying to sort out their roles. People of color, gays, lesbians, and transgenders who are carving out this space. I’m not spitting in the face or being lazy about what still needs to be done — but I don’t think it’s just women anymore. We would be so enormously powerful if it were a humanist movement.”
First of all, first of all. It’s not “transgenders.” Transgender is an adjective, not a noun. It’s transgender men or transgender women or transgender people — not “transgenders” or, even worse, “transgendereds.”
Second, that is an unbelievably incorrect reading of what Wendy Wasserstein actually said, to the Houston Chronicle, back in 1992:
“I can’t imagine not being a feminist. I think women and men deserve equal rights. Who can object to that? Being a feminist is just being a humanist. But I realize there are people out there who think that’s a bad thing, too.”
Not only did she get it wrong this time, she’s said it before too! Except last time, she actually quoted Wasserstein as saying “I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist.” Doesn’t she have like, all kinds of handlers and people around her to help her live her daily life or something? Couldn’t anyone have cleared this up for her! I mean, it’s on the first page of Google results for “Wendy Wasserstein humanist” – it is not that hard to find.
Third, it is hardly as though all the heavy lifting that feminism needed to do was over by the ’70s and accomplished by our mothers, never needing to be addressed or brought up again because we’re all equal now and can just relax. I certainly dare you to try and float that one by my mother. I’m sure she’d be happy to tell you all about that time they helped pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
Fourth … Sarah Jessica Parker and all people who think this is a very clever, insightful and deep thing to say need to be made aware of the fact that, well…
The terms feminist and Humanist are in no way mutually exclusive. Like many, many, many other people out there, I am both a feminist and a Humanist. Here, for the Google-impaired, is the definition of Humanism.
An outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.
Humanism already means a thing. It already has a definition. You don’t just get to make up a new one because you think it sounds right. I mean, I think “Omaha” sounds like it should be the name of a state, but that doesn’t make it one.
If one is going to talk about feminism and humanism, it is enormously helpful to know the actual definitions of those words.
But even if it didn’t already have a definition, or if Parker’s definition were the actual definition, her statement still doesn’t make sense. Identifying as a feminist hardly means that you can’t fight for other issues as well–it actually means that you should. I mean, if you’re calling yourself a feminist, but you’re not down to fight racism, discrimination against LGBT people, poverty and all other forms of iniquity, I don’t have any time for you, and neither will most people.
Also, duh, people of color and LGBT people can also be feminists! They can even be women! And, on top of that, they can also be Humanists! It’s a bright and exciting world of multi-tasking possibilities out there, SJP!