Apologizing to the women of pop culture

Open letters to the famous women society wanted me to hate

Kristen Stewart, Miley Cyrus, and Mindy Kaling.
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Women in pop culture have always been subject to overwhelming (and, frankly, stupid) criticism for absolutely everything they do. 

What follows is a list of women and genderqueer people that society tried to convince me were monsters by incorrectly labelling them ‘sluts,’ ‘traitors,’ and ‘idiots.’ 

Some of these people are very problematic, and every one of them is flawed and human—but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve our respect and decency.

Kristen Stewart

It used to be cool to know everything about Twilight, but for a much longer period it was cooler to despise it—and that was meant to extend to you (but never to Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner). 

I realize now how amazing it is that you’re loud, queer, and unapologetic. The misogyny that infected the Twilight series, and the fact that they’re just boring movies, was never your fault. 

You took on a crappy role to make it in the industry and advance your career, but we all would have done the same. 

Miley Cyrus

You’re a bit of a mess right now, but we all are, and none of us had to grow up having our sexuality policed as rigidly as you did. After all, it’s not common to have upskirt shots taken of you at 14 years old.

You were talented, and you still are talented. I’m sorry that Disney was hell-bent on using you as a prop, and for the ways I took part in belittling you for taking agency over your own body. 

I’m sorry creepy men took your power away, but I’m overjoyed you’re taking it back now. 

Ke$ha

I don’t know why I pretended not to like your music. I was fine with it when Ne-Yo and Pitbull wanted to sing about partying. But the second you did it, I felt like it was a crime.

I should have known how strong and benevolent you are, instead of assuming otherwise. I wish someone had paid more attention to your pain, because the people that were supposed to support you—your peers, producers, and fans—were not there for you, and neither was I. 

I wish that you had more people to provide love and reinforcement when you were facing sexual abuse and an eating disorder, because your words and music gave me these things when I was facing some of the same struggles.   

I’m not the only one who failed you—we all did.

Nicki Minaj

There was never any way that our racist culture of rape apologists was going to avoid hypersexualizing you, whether you wore a shapeless paper bag or a paper-thin thong. 

It was never cheap or degrading for you to take your sexual identity into your own hands—it was empowering. I’m sorry, Nicki, and I’m sorry to all the other Black women that face a cement ceiling on their careers without support to lift them past it.

Megan Fox

It’s funny that we were never mad at Shia LaBeouf for cheapening the Transformers franchise with vulgarity. It’s sad that we didn’t realize how filmmaker Michael Bay took advantage of his position of power over a young woman by oversexualizing you at an early point in your career without your full consent.

I’m glad that you’ve persevered. Your film, Jennifer’s Body, taught me to love myself. You taught me it’s okay to love other women, too.

I’m sorry that I never objected to jokes that slut-shamed you and underestimated your intelligence. I’m also sorry for the times that I was the one making the joke.

Mindy Kaling

Article after article was published about how you couldn’t stop falling in love with white guys when The Mindy Project was at its peak. You rose to fame at a time when brown women (at least one brown woman) were allowed to be on screen. But this was the same time that we all thought white feminist tendencies could apply to women of colour (spoiler alert: they can’t).

I’m sorry you never got to enjoy your success. I’m sorry that I wasn’t among the women who shone a light on the internalized racism you faced, which none of us can escape in one lifetime.

Ivanka Trump

I don’t agree with most of what you do. I think that, as a woman, you’ve failed your fellow women in more ways than one. You’ve consistently demonstrated a strand of toxic white feminism that has allowed people like your father to come into power.

But I am sorry that you’ve been taunted, objectified, and non-consensually sexualized by those who wanted to take down your father, President Donald Trump. I’m sorry that your father himself targeted you with inappropriate, disturbing behaviour.

We need to stop taking down politicians’ wives and daughters. His bigotry wasn’t your battle.

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