Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was part of a G20 Women’s Summit in Berlin (the same one at which Ivanka Trump was booed after she defended Donald Trump’s attitude towards women). At the summit, Merkel was asked what has become an obvious question that’s posed to everyone from world leaders to movie stars like Priyanka Chopra: are you a feminist?
It’s a straightforward question with a straightforward answer, except it apparently wasn’t. Merkel said a bunch of bizarre things in response to the question. Her answer was, “I am not afraid of it. If you think that I am one – please, vote on it. But I don’t want to adorn myself with these feathers.” Her attempt to elucidate her stance was just as confusing. She said,”To be honest the history of feminism is one with which I have common ground but also differences, and I don’t want to embellish myself with a title I don’t have.”
Arre? It’s not a knighthood yaar Angela, nobody’s going to come bestow any titles on you so that you can admit to being a feminist. It’s such a wholly unsatisfying response from anyone, especially someone who apparently now holds the (separately problematic) title of “leader of the free world“. Her reluctance to label herself a feminist is plain bad news, and gives so much weight to the same stupid beliefs about the term feminism that stop her from calling herself one. When people think about feminists, it’s useful for the to know that a variety of people subscribe to the label, from figures as diverse as Taylor Swift to Merkel, and it’s a disappointment on several levels to see that Merkel refuses to wear the label with pride.