Natalie Portman Just Nailed My Thoughts On What It Means To Be A Feminist

Natalie Portman attending New York City ballet opening gala September 2013It’s been a fun week to be a feminist so far at We made the mistake of writing a post (okay, or several) about notorious woman Taylor Swift in which we don’t necessarily agree with the way she carries herself through the world or the example she sets for her fans. So we’ve been being shouted at in our comments section about that for coming up on twenty-four hours now. It’d be annoying if it weren’t so amusing.

But as a snarkier than average, non-famous human being in the world, I find that my interpretation of feminism overlaps with others’ surprisingly infrequently. I mean I’m out there for the big discussions — I think Beyonce should be able to call her tour whatever the hell she wants, I don’t like it when women (particularly new celebrity mothers) spontaneously announce that they can’t have it all as if that’s something that would ever cross a dude’s mind to say, and I think I know that Farrah Abraham is a Grade-A dumbass for thinking that a ‘feminist’ is just some kind of hot lesbian.

But hey! Over here! I think Natalie Portman might be saying something about feminism that I actually agree with! Gather ’round! Here’s a quote from a recent interview that Natalie gave to Elle UK:

“I want every version of a woman and a man to be possible. I want women and men to be able to be full-time parents or full-time working people or any combination of the two. I want both to be able to do whatever they want sexually without being called names. I want them to be allowed to be weak and strong and happy and sad — human, basically. The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a “feminist” story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. A movie about a weak, vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can empathize with.”

Yes! Natalie, yes! I can totally get on board with that, because for once, someone is allowing for all types of women. At its heart, I believe that feminism is about equality, not strength. It’s not about being an intimidating woman or a strong woman or a careerwoman or a mother or a role model, persay. It’s not about being chaste or promiscuous or poised or a bitch or beautiful or single or strident or any one thing. It’s the freedom to be exactly the kind of woman that you want to be, without pressure from society. Whatever that means to you. You don’t have to explain your decisions to anyone, because they’re your decisions alone.

I’m admittedly biased, but I feel like if you think about feminism any other way, you get into this scary territory where even being a feminist has rules about what you can and can’t do. Like you’re somehow harming the movement if you don’t correspond exactly to what other people want and expect to see from you. And sometimes women — and feminists especially — can be the worst perpetrators of that kind of pressure on other women, so I’m really thrilled and relieved to see Natalie speak so eloquently about the issue.

But I mean, feel free to disagree, obviously. It means you hate yourself and success and love men and uncomfortable brassieres, but whatevs. You’re just not a real feminist.

(Yes you are! You’re beautiful gems and I love you!)

(Image: C. Smith /

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    • pushkin

      Be careful what you agree with. Are you now saying you’re okay with women like Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter, because if so, I applaud you. All women should have a voice, whether you agree with them or not.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        My disagreement with Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter has nothing to do with the fact that they’re women. It has to do with their opinions.

        But, like all of us, they do deserve the freedom to express said opinions, however insane they may (and do) seem to me.

    • Lisa

      Thank you for this article, Alexis. It’s beautifully written (and snarky and humorous – everything I have come to expect from your posts) and I agree wholeheartedly with this definition of feminism. It also reminds me that I am sooooo fortunate to live in a Western country where feminism is embraced by many (still more work to be done, but it is coming along nicely.)

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Oh thank you so much, Lisa! I’m really glad you enjoyed it! And yes you’re right — we’re extremely lucky to live somewhere that feminism is a concept even available for discussion.

    • Lynne Spreen

      As a woman who came of age when feminism was crankin’, and we thought something powerful was about to happen, I have been sad to see it convoluted, misused and misunderstood as it has been in the past 30+ years. What Portman said is EXACTLY the essence of feminism. Why is it hard to get behind the idea that we should all be who we are, our true authentic selves? Thanks so much for this post.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Thank YOU for your comment! I really appreciate it, and agree wholeheartedly!

    • jessm

      I agree with you that this quote is awesome and totally spot-on regarding equality and feminism. However, I hesitate before agreeing with the assertion that “Natalie Portman is good at feminism,” as is claimed by the title of the link that brought me here. She is a successful woman who has said some good feminist things, but she has also come out in support of a confessed rapist (Polanski) and has compared rape to eating meat.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        If you were brought here by a link that said ‘Natalie Portman is good at feminism’, I don’t know who wrote that, but it wasn’t me. I’m referring to this specific quote, and I think I make that clear in the title and body of this article.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Oh that’s interesting! Thanks for letting me know, but to be clear — I don’t write for them, and I didn’t provide the content for their link itself.

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