Yesterday we brought you a list of nine celebrity women who don’t really understand what feminism is. Far too often we read quotes from famous women who are hesitant to label themselves the “F” word because they think it carries a negative connotation or because they believe it means they don’t like men or any number of simply incorrect things.
But we’re not totally negative around these parts, although I guess you wouldn’t know it if you only read our posts on Justin Bieber. There are plenty of famous women who will call themselves feminists, and who understand what feminism is all about. Not only that, but a lot of them go as far as to call out other women who shy away from the term. So read on, start the slow clap, and have a little of your faith in humanity restored.
1. Claire Danes
(Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
What she said: “I am a feminist. And I’m so glad that [Girls creator and star] Lena Dunham exists, because she is one too, and she’s quite vocal about it. Yes, women have more freedom and more influence than ever, but it’s hardly equal. It’s just not.”
I love that Claire just says she’s a feminist, plain and simple, without feeling the need to clarify that she still loves men or that she guesses she is one but isn’t really sure. She’s a feminist because she knows men and women deserve to be equal but still aren’t in this day and age. It’s sad to say, but a statement like that is really important coming from a celebrity.
2. Natalie Portman
(Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
What she said: “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.”
I think this is really interesting statement. So often Hollywood’s approach to feminism is to make female characters into these fighting badasses because that’ll make things even somehow. As fun as that can be, as a non-badass I can’t relate to that. You can depict male and female characters who have layers and emotional complexity and who are weak and strong and everything in between. It’s the variety of representation that matters.
3. Amy Poehler
(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
What she said: “Aw, I feel bad if she was upset. I am a feminist and she is a young and talented girl. That being said, I do agree I am going to hell. But for other reasons. Mostly boring tax stuff.”
This was in response to Taylor Swift’s ridiculous comment that because Amy and Tina Fey made fun of her, they were going to hell for not supporting other women. I don’t love that Amy displayed regret for the comment, but the fact of the matter is that she’s still allowed to be a feminist and criticize other women.
4. Keira Knightley
(Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
What she said: “I think it’s great, what’s happening at the moment, I think it’s great that the discussions are finally being allowed to be had, as opposed to anybody mentioning feminism and everybody going, ‘oh, ‘expletive’ shut up’. Somehow, it became a dirty word. I thought it was really weird for a long time, and I think it’s great we’re coming out of that.”
I love it when women are willing to not only reference feminism without hesitation, but also to point out that it’s been viewed as a dirty word by too many people. We need more famous women making these kinds of statements to spread the word and remove the unnecessary taboo some people have created.
5. Lena Dunham
(Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
What she said: “Women saying ‘I’m not a feminist’ is my greatest pet peeve. Do you believe that women should be paid the same for doing the same jobs? Do you believe that women should be allowed to leave the house? Do you think that women and men both deserve equal rights? Great, then you’re a feminist. People think there is something taboo about speaking up for feminism.”
Say what you will about Lena Dunham, but this is a pretty great summary of the problem a lot of people have with the word feminism, and why that’s so absurd. People complicate it way too much.
6. Ellen Page
(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
What she said: “But I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Maybe some women just don’t care. But how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?”
Ellen makes a good point. If referring to yourself as someone who believes in equality between the sexes is viewed as something to feel ashamed of, then it just goes to show how far we do have to go to achieve equality.
(Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
What she said: “I’m speaking for a bunch of girls when I say that the idea that feminism is completely natural and shouldn’t even be something that people find mildly surprising, it’s just a part of being a girl in 2013.”
It’s so awesome that a 17-year-old with a young fan base can send this kind of positive feminist message out into the world. There’s nothing weird or shocking or controversial about calling yourself a feminist.
8. Zooey Deschanel
(Photo: Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
What she said: “I’m just being myself. There is not an ounce of me that believes any of that crap that they say. We can’t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a fucking feminist and wear a fucking Peter Pan collar. So fucking what?”
I love that Zooey inserted humor and a few F-bombs into her statement. And it’s so true. There’s no one way a persona has to look or act in order to be a feminist. If you want to wear a fucking Peter Pan collar, wear a fucking Peter Pan collar. That’s your right and your choice, which is what feminism is all about.
9. Meryl Streep
(Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
What she said: “I know it will tickle our honoree, as she’s also a rabid man-eating feminist like me!”
Meryl said this during a recent speech honoring Emma Thompson in which she called out Walt Disney for sexism. Yes, she uses the words “rabid” and “man-eating,” but I think anyone who knows Meryl knows she’s being ironic. And irony is fabulous.