After watching Sex and the City last week, I remembered seeing a blurb awhile back that said Sarah Jessica Parker identified as a humanist rather than a feminist. I typically roll my eyes at statements like these because I do not have faith in celebrities to clearly articulate what they mean and so they use words that sound smart, but do not necessarily mean what they think they mean.
However, a closer look at Parker's words indicates that perhaps she is a feminist after all - even more in-line with third-wave feminism too. "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."
I'm left wondering if Parker's response is a product of "postfeminism," particularly Jess Butler's explication that postfeminsim "implies that gender equality has been achieved and feminist activism is thus no longer necessary" (44). Parker who is the idealized postfeminist subject since she is white, Western and a heterosexual woman (47) may have the privilege of a false consciousness to believe that the battle for her is over. In her mind she has moved passed feminism to “humanism.” Butler offers a solid analysis as to why someone could think like Parker. She writes, “Propped up by the (imagined) success of the women’s movement, a sex-positive (and racially exclusive) feminist legacy, and the ever-expanding neoliberal celebration of autonomy, individualism, and consumer choice, postfeminism surfaces as a more attractive alternative to previous forms of gender politics” (41).
Parker’s statement opens up an interesting question. As feminism’s inclusivity continues to expand, how does it convince others to remove prior conceptions of exclusivity and deal with competing postfeminism’s requirement that “women ‘be who they want to be’ – just as long it is not a feminist” (44)?