***For the purpose of simplicity, because cinema pervades nearly every aspect of our culture, including music and politics and so on, these lists are not limited to actresses/actors. They are also not listed in any particular order. Hopefully that doesn’t cause any confusion.***
The term “feminism” has been in use since the 1890s (France) and early 20th Century (UK, US). Since then, it’s been adopted by different movements, and adapted to suit specific purposes.
But it has always meant the same thing: gender equality.
We’ve come a long way from the days when just seeing these names would invoke images of angry (read: misunderstood) feminists:
Coretta Scott King
Diane Von Furstenberg
To a day when all these names refer to modern, contemporary feminists, who are able to express their views in a much more positive light (thanks in large part to those listed above):
Chlöe Grace Moretz
Miley Cyrus (unfortunately a loud symbol of *specifically white feminism*)
Helena Bonham Carter
Bryce Dallas Howard
Susan Sarandon (has said “humanist” in the past, but changed her mind this September and claimed to be a “feminist”)
And many more, of whom I’m simply not yet aware.
AS WELL AS all these names:
James Van Der Beek
George R.R. Martin (no, seriously, he used the actual word and everything).
And again, probably many more of whom I’m simply not yet aware.
And sure there are all these names, belonging to “Women Who Have Publicly Distanced Themselves From Feminism (For Now):”
Glenn Close (who marched in rallies alongside Gloria Steinem, but didn’t feel she really belonged there)
Lana Del Rey
Demi Moore (& the following 3 are Team “Humanist, Not Feminist” urgh -_-)
Sarah Jessica Parker
Meryl Streep (has called herself a “humanist,” but when it’s convenient, she calls herself a “feminist.” Specifically, a “man-eating feminist.” So basically,
“urgh -_-” (x3). Thanks but no thanks, Meryl.)
And COUNTLESS OTHERS who simply have not weighed in on the subject.
They get a pass, for obvious reasons.
So, how does this effect history? Why does it matter? I’ll tell you.
I think we’re getting to the point where most of the names on the last two lists will be added to the longer ones eventually, if examples like Taylor Swift, Susan Sarandon, and Meryl Streep are any indication.
And it’s not about peer pressure or popularity. It’s about eyes being opened, and patience being spent.
These are the people who have actually experienced the sexism in Hollywood that the rest of us only hear about. Casting couches and weight loss regimes. Ageism and wage discrepancies. Impractical costumes and decorative roles. *And the poses.* Hollywood may be a hotbed of feminist support – but yet, entertainment is one of the most anti-feminist industries in history. That is legend, fact. We know those two things to be true, but we don’t know how it feels, or how it keeps happening, or how those repeated themes are really impacting society,
Or how to stop it.
What this means, if the vast majority of entertainers and highly-paid celebrities in Hollywood these days are feminists, is that increasingly more feminism-friendly films will be made, not to mention how “business as usual” may be upset by such a dramatic shift in attitudes all across the industry: These are the people who will now opt out of roles and projects they feel are harmful to women, and fight for their characters to have more depth and less objectification (Michelle Rodriguez, Emilia Clarke). They’re also the most famous, popular people in the industry at the moment.
Jennifer Lawrence discusses the pay gap in Hollywood, and the difficulties women face in many workplaces.
These are the people who are now directing (Shonda Rimes, Jessica Chastain, etc.).
These are the people who are now demanding equal pay (Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, etc.).
These are the people who are now correcting the way they are interviewed (Scarlett Johansson, Cate Blanchett, Ariana Grande. etc.).
These are the people who are showing the other half of society that “feminism” means “gender equality” (all male feminists).
These are the people who compose all of our most popular and most lucrative franchises, from Game of Thrones to Hunger Games, from superhero movies and summer blockbusters to children’s (and adult’s) cartoons, and so on.
Imagine a world where movies no longer portray women as weak, helpless, incompetent, manipulative, etc. (unless flaws like these are just one side of a more complex character) and especially, as sexual objects. Because that is what these celebrities are trying to accomplish. And many have been for some time! Because they know they’re some of the most well-equipped among us to make it happen!
Eventually, the ignorant pockets of society will change their views as well. Because that is the power of cinema. Even the most ignorant people watch movies. [But that’s a topic for a whooooole other post. (Seriously, just because movies are accessible doesn’t mean everyone understands them.)]
So when you ask yourself, “Why do celebrities get involved in politics?” and if the answer that “They are also citizens of the world, who happen to face sexism every day” isn’t good enough for you, try thinking of the future. Something as simple as a celebrity openly supporting feminism can be a vitally important part of changing the world – especially if the work they do from that point on is as influential as cinema.
Cinema will change the world. This is just one example of how. #ThePowerOfCinema
– THE DUEL CITIZEN
Bringing Hollywood Home: Natalie Dormer steps outside of a fictional role to discuss the reality of domestic abuse.
P.s. I’m not getting into the whole “Why do we have to use that specific word?” debate.
It’s not about the word, per se, it’s about the core concept, which is why the word matters; those who understand and believe in the core concept have no trouble embracing the word. Capeesh?
Rejecting “feminism,” rejecting gender equality, rejecting the notion that inequality exists – they all result in the same thing: more of the same. So, I’m sorry, but silence on this topic is inherently making you part of the problem. It is an implicit reinforcement, not to mention arguable endorsement, of damaging traditions. I understand being hesitant, being worried their career might suffer as a consequence, but bravery isn’t supposed to be easy.
That’s why I put the anti-feminists/undecideds in separate lists and called them out for it. I’m not spewing hatred towards these women for their beliefs, or even really criticizing them that much, (and there’s a difference between criticism and bullying) so I don’t want to hear about uppity feminist double standards. Sadly, that just has to be done in order for us to move forward.