Source : Cosmpolitan

To mark International Women’s Day and the launch of Cosmopolitan’s F Word campaign, Cosmo sat down with the legend (and we don’t use that word lightly) that is Annie Lennox

Music icon. Style muse. Activist. Ambassador. Mother. Feminist. There are so many words to describe the unique talent that is Annie Lennox but here at Cosmo HQ, we’re particularly proud to call her a supporter of our F word campaign, designed to remind us all about the positive and powerful force of feminism. We sat down with Annie and asked her about EQUALS, the coalition of charities that she brings together every year to celebrate International Women’s Day, and why she’s proud to use the F word…

Q: Why were you keen to support Cosmo’s F word campaign?

A: “Cosmopolitan is a magazine that I started reading when I was 17 or 18 as a young woman. At that time, feminism was coming up and it was a very powerful thing. People were afraid of feminists. Feminists were very outspoken, very articulate, ferocious, combative… It created huge waves in the media – it was a very different time. I have a lot to thank Cosmo for as it afforded me – an ordinary girl – a dialogue I could read about, a dialogue that I didn’t feel part of before so that I could at least know what was going on in the world.”

Q: Why do you think people are reticent to call themselves feminists?

A: “People have a difficulty with this word – young people have a difficulty with it. Old people have a difficulty with it. I don’t have an issue with it – I never did, but I started realising, ‘Wow, it means different things to different people and it can be really offputting.’ For example, I love men. Most of my friends are men. I get along in the company of men. I love women equally. But a lot of my male friends would say they’re feminists too and there’s no shame in that. There’s nothing to resist. It’s about human rights, civil rights, legal rights, reproductive rights, healthcare rights, and the right to earn equal pay if you’re doing the same amount of work as a man. Why should a woman who’s doing the same amount of work as a man, in the same job with the same job description, earn less than him? It doesn’t make any sense. And in the highest places – the legal profession, business etc – you’ll find women are not getting the same pay for the same job.”


Q: Do you think it’s a case of simplifying what people understand by ‘feminism’?

A: “Yes. When you see the facts about inequality, you realize it’s not rocket science. The time has come. We need to re-own this word. We need to redefine this word so that people aren’t fighting over it and claiming it for themselves and saying ‘You can’t be part of this club because you wear make up’ and nonsense like that. We mustn’t devalue the word feminism. We need to get it back. We need to reinvigorate it. We need to give it its true value and meaning.”

Q: What makes you passionate about feminism?

A: “I’m 57 – I have young adult daughters – if it hadn’t been for the women who went before me, without their sacrifice, there’s no way I would have the vote, the education… my life would be completely different. I have a lot to be grateful for. People sacrificed for those things.

“If we value what we’ve inherited for free – from other women – surely it’s right morally and ethically for us to wake up and say, ‘I’m a feminist. I’m lucky, I can speak about these issues.’ We all fight over what the label ‘feminism’ means but for me it’s about empowerment. It’s not about being more powerful than men – it’s about having equal rights with protection, support, justice. It’s about very basic things. It’s not a badge like a fashion item.”

Q: How can we encourage men to embrace feminism?

A: “I think young men are starting to become advocates for this. I have been so despondent over the years reading the most misogynistic statements coming out of hip hop music. It’s really upsetting. That attitude of the whore/bitch/bling – it’s not going to get anywhere. It’s a dead end.”

Q: How do you think feminism can move forward and attract a wider audience?

A: “I’ve thought about what is an alternative word to feminism. There isn’t one. It’s a perfectly good word. And it can’t be changed. This is what it’s about but we need to make people understand the basic meaning behind it. Simplify it. Make it simple. Make it accessible so men can understand it. It’s not about being enemies of men. This is a nonsense. We must be male and female feminists – together.”