British journalist Caitlin Moran has become a voice for Millennial-aged women with her outspoken frankness about her personal life as well as her provocative thoughts about the current state feminism.
Moran was in Cannes last week to discuss her influence, social media and why the Spice Girls are bad for the feminist movement with The&Partnership Founder Johnny Hornby aboard the majestic superyacht Panthalassa.
Women were the hot topic during the festival as several agencies and clients have committed to developing positive images. Moran sees both sides of this empowerment issue.
Most of her feminist friends think these campaigns like Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty and Always' Like a Girl are "horrific tokenism. Who are they to say what a real woman is?" she asks. "What a horrible phrase that is."
That said, Moran is okay with this so-called tokenism. "I think it is a step forward. Obviously it is not the ideal, but it's better than what we had before. It is the same as with racism, obviously the worst bit is when people are thinking racist things, and saying racist things. But then if you move on, people are still secretly thinking racist things but they know not to say them anymore and not to shout at people in the street. That's still not ideal but it’s definitely better than what we had before, and it certainly seems to be moving you to a point where people are both not thinking and saying shitty things."
Moran isn't as accepting over the Spice Girls' role in the debate. "When the Spice Girls were asked about how they felt about being a woman, politics and progress and stuff," says Moran, "they went; 'No, we're not feminists but we believe in girl power!'”
There’s a problem with “girl power,” Moran proclaims, when compared to feminism. The latter she describes as a “legitimate movement with solid aims and legal aims which bring in legislation and history and a way of debating these things which is inclusive and includes everybody and has solid objectives. Girl power on the other hand, just meant being friends with your friends and buying Spice Girls records."
Moran's influence spans across both traditional and non-traditional media. She works at the Times and has more than a half of a million followers on social media. "But the key difference between posting stuff on social media and writing for the Times is that you simply have to engage your brain when you’re writing for the Times. On Twitter, I don't need to check a fact, you can just say this stuff and get away with it."
While cynicism seems to be the dominant thread within the media these days, Moran is optimistic about how social media can serve as a connector. "Without a shadow of a doubt it is the best time to be a human being, but we don't really see that reflected anywhere. It leans against this pessimism and this cynicism and this is why people turn to social media cause they can just go in a little closed group talk to their friends, comfort each other like children sucking their thumbs."
She adds, "It's very easy to underestimate just how important it is to just write something that's funny and that cheers people up. I try to do a balance of the two. Half the columns are serious and [the other half is] trying to look at something."
There is the need for information curation, she says. The key thing is with social media is it started in the beginning enabling the world to "talk to itself" through universal connection and community, she says. "And then after you spend two years finding out what everyone's thinking, and everyone's saying and infinite opinions, you say, you know what, actually that’s not what I wanted. I don't have time to listen to infinite opinions and infinite information. I want to go to some people that I can trust who can tell me what the hell is going on."
Still, fragmented information is here to stay, whether it's in advertisements or the media. "You know, we used to sit around and listen to symphonies for nineteen-and-a-half hours," she says. Now singles are three minutes, and you know, that's what we think a song should be. And for kids, its maybe only just kinda the chorus. 'Don't bore us get to the chorus, why not just have the good bit?'" She jokes.