I am a feminist. I am not afraid to say it. In fact, I wear the label proudly.
I know I am not alone, but I also know that the word feminist gets a bad rap and that often times people choose not to identify with it for fear of what others would think. Fortunately, there are some A-list stars that embrace the label regardless of what others think.
Take a look at my list of top celebrity feminists:
1. Toni Collette
Toni Collette is one of my favorite actresses. I recently started and finished watching United States of Tara (so disappointed the series wasn’t picked up for an additional season) and thoroughly enjoyed her most recent movie The Way Way Back. What I enjoy the most about her though is her recent declaration as a feminist, a label many Hollywood women (and women everywhere) are often too afraid to make.
I’ve recently realized that I really am a feminist. For years people would say to me, ‘You are! You are! You really are!’ And I’d say, ‘No, I’m not. I’m a humanist. I think it’s sexist to say I’m a feminist.’ Now, I see a great imbalance not only in my industry, but also in the world at large. I want to change it.
Yes! There is a great imbalance in Hollywood and we need women like Collette to change it.
In discussing our society’s obsession with appearance Collette says:
I believe the more important thing is your mind and your heart. Those two things are the most ignored parts of our beings. I think there’s a huge imbalance in where the focus is placed in today’s society, absolutely. The people who are most attractive to me are those who feel most comfortable in their skin — there’s a sense of self-acceptance.
It’s no surprise that society places a huge emphasis on women’s appearances and that Hollywood is an even bigger culprit, so it’s a refreshing reminder from Collette that we should focus on our inner beauty.
2. Dustin Hoffman
When Dustin Hoffman was approached to be in the movie Tootsie he had one stipulation – make him look like a woman.
The studio agreed to do some make-up tests prior to shooting and what happened next changed his life. In recalling the experience, Hoffman says:
When we got the that point and looked at it on screen I was shocked that I wasn’t more attractive and I said now you have me looking like a woman, now make me a beautiful woman because I thought I should be beautiful if I was going to be a woman. I would want to be as beautiful as possible.
And they said to me, ‘That’s as good as it gets. That’s as beautiful as we can get you.’
It was at that moment I had an epiphany, and I went home and started crying. Talking to my wife, I said I have to make this picture, and she said, ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Because I think I am an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen. And I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn’t fulfill physically the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out.’ She says, ‘What are you saying?’ And I said, ‘There’s too many interesting women I have…not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”
The societal pressure women feel to look a certain way to be beautiful surrounds us every day, but it effects us all. I just became a Hoffman fan for life.
3. Ellen Page
While there are many that shy away from the feminist label, there are others that proudly declare it.
Ellen Page is one of those women.
In an interview with The Guardian, Page delves into many feminist issues, including:
1. Access to emergency contraception
So u r super mad about a 15 yr old girl being able to prevent pregnancy BUT you want everyone to have guns no questions asked? U funny!
2. The under-representation of women in movies
Only 23% of speaking roles in films today are for women. It feels we’ve gone backwards…she has started writing her own script ‘which is definitely feminist – definitely. But of course, if you just write a script in which the woman has control over her destiny and love isn’t the main thing in the film, that’s seen as super feminist.’
3. Sexism in Hollywood
It’s constant! It’s how you’re treated, it’s how you’re looked at, how you’re expected to look in a photo shoot, it’s how you’re expected to shut up and not have an opinion…if you’re a girl and you don’t fit the very specific vision of what a girl should be, which is always from a man’s perspective, then you’re a little bit at a loss.
4. Reluctancy of women to identify as feminists
I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists…but how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?…Feminism always gets associated with being a radical movement – good. It should be. A lot of what the radical feminists [in the 1970s] were saying, I don’t disagree with it.
Page is such a great example of a young actress who is knowledgeable and passionate about feminist issues.
4. Geena Davis
Unfortunately, these types of roles are a rarity for women, but it is Davis’ mission to equal the playing field on screen for her daughter’s sake and for those of girls around the world through her work with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
On why creating the institute was so important, Davis says:
I had a very big lesson early on about how powerful media images can be and how important it is to see women doing powerful and interesting things. So when I had a daughter 10 years ago, and when she was a toddler, I watched G-rated movies with her. I noticed this huge gender disparity, which most people seem to be really unaware of. We’re feeding kids this image of society where boys vastly outnumber girls in what they see from the very beginning, which really doesn’t make any sense to me.
So, how can we create more equality on screen?
Davis says it all boils down to one thing – feminism!
It’s all about feminism. Feminism simply means equal social and political status for men and women. There’s nothing radical about it or about using that word or having that as a goal. We’re simply trying to elevate the status of the female characters to equal. We take up half the space in the world so it would be great to see roughly half of characters be female.
According to estimates from Davis’ institute, we will not reach parity on screen for another 700 years at the rate we are going. That is simply unacceptable.
5. Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler is known for many things – Saturday Night Live, Parks & Recreation, Mean Girls. But did you know that she also created an online platform call Smart Girls at the Party where the motto is to “change the world by being yourself”?
The site is amazing and leaves you feeling so good. Not only does she do interviews with real smart girls, but she also answers viewers’ questions through her Ask Amy series. This is one of my favorites:
If Smart Girls at the Party doesn’t convince you that Poehler is a feminist, her answer below on the questions will:
Yes, I consider myself a feminist, and it informs my work only in that it’s just who I am, in the same way that I’m a woman, or I’m 5’2″ or whatever. I was lucky that I came through a system that had many people who did much more hard work and road-clearing before I got there.
This is one of the best answers I have every read about being a feminist.
6. Patrick Stewart
You may know Patrick Stewart from X-men or Star-Trek, but I know him as an advocate for ending violence against women. He has been passionate about the issue for years and talks openly about violence in his childhood and how he advocates on behalf of women in honor of his own mother who faced violence at home.
Stewart is now working with Ring the Bell to get one million men to make one million promises to end violence against women.
Watch the videos below and see why he is a feminist yourself!
Who are your favorite feminist celebrities?
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