01/07/2014 12:28 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Stop Calling Every Female Star a Feminist

Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

If 2013 can bear one more label, let's call it the year that everyone and her mom was hailed as a feminist until the word got as tired as any Internet trope. The New Year followed suit with a piece Monday on The Atlantic's website about the enduring cult of Bettie Page, the 1950s pin-up icon who paved the way for modern porn. Marveling at the fact that female fans rather than drooling men have kept Page’s legend alive, the author quotes a culture critic beaming, “She was a sex-positive feminist before the classification even existed.” Page was, it’s true, enthusiastically appropriated by the sex-positive feminists of the ‘90s. But there's no evidence that she was a feminist, sex-positive or otherwise, herself. She was risqué, and independent for a woman of her day, but “feminist” is not a synonym for “hard-nosed or interesting woman.”