By Laura Nunez
“Who gives a damn what label we use, as long as we are living a life that supports other women” – Megyn Kelly.
Megyn Kelly – Fox news anchor and author of Settle for More – has transformed from prototype Fox darling to unexpected champion of female empowerment. Although she may not identify herself as a feminist, her actions over the course of the 2016 election cycle have caused millions of women to rush to confer the f-word crown upon her head.
Kelly first caught the attention of feminists in the summer of 2015, when she served as a moderator during the August GOP primary debate. She infamously challenged then GOP candidate Donald Trump on his sexist and derogatory statements about women.
“You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.’ Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect president?”
Kelly’s celebrated performance during the debate caused her to suffer months of harassment and threats at the hands of the Trump campaign and his supporters. But this audacious reporter refused to back down and continued to press Mr. Trump and his campaign staffers on his various abuses towards women. She skillfully shut down Newt Gingrich’s accusations of her being obsessed with sex, and went toe-to-toe with Kellyanne Conway on multiple occasions over Trump’s behavior on social media.
Not only has Kelly strayed away from Fox dogma in regards to Trump, but she has also developed a reputation for challenging Republican doctrine, defending maternity leave and advocating for working women. Most impressive, Kelly has been a vocal proponent for reforms in how companies deal with cases of sexual harassment. She stated, “The more we criticize harassment victims for their understandable reluctance to go on record, the more women we’ll shame into violence.” When allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against former Fox CEO Roger Ailes, Kelly came forward with her own experience of harassment and encouraged other victims to speak out.
Even though Kelly has proven herself to be on the side of female empowerment there are some who still question her devotion to gender equality. Yes, it’s true that Kelly does not check the feminist box, believing that the term has become just a means to promote a pro-choice agenda. It’s true that Kelly works for Fox, and therefore has not led the good feminist fight in a conventional liberal context. However, it’s also true that she fights against misogyny, argues with leaders across the political spectrum, and encourages working women—most of her staff are women and mothers.
Megyn Kelly embodies a sorta-feminism that offers an opportunity to introduce feminist ideals to an audience who might otherwise reject them. These are women who want to fight discrimination and inequality, but who feel excluded from mainstream feminist ideology because they disagree with some of its principles. Maybe Kelly is right. Maybe the label doesn’t matter as much as the actual act of uplifting your fellow women. And when considering recent and future political decisions, it might be beneficial to find common ground amongst women on both sides of the aisle, so that progress can still be made.