Feminists across Tinsel Town stand their ground without going dramatically overboard for the cause
While some like Katy Perry, Shailene Woodley and even Susan Sarandon deny being feminists in the accepted sense, Hollywood has its fair share of those happy to defend equality of the sexes. Apart from playing strong roles that highlight the issue, these leading ladies (and one gentleman!) weave equality into daily life – like catching her boyfriend in a slightly sexist interview or converting her thoughts into impromptu comedy.
Hard as Stone
A feminist in the truest sense, Emma Stone even caught out her boyfriend, Andrew Garfield, in public when he said something casually sexist. At a Q&A session to promote their film The Amazing Spider-Man 2, in April, when Garfield was asked about the costume and he explains that ‘Spider-Man stitched it and made a girly thing masculine’, Stone instantly asked, “It’s feminine, how?”. Eventually Garfield had to admit that it was a mistake and that all young men have ‘feminine in them’. A few years ago, she also commented that actors get asked interesting questions, because they are ‘boys’ while the ladies get asked about hair, diets and clothes. Subtle yet strong, we say!
Words of Watson
One of the few child stars to mature into a wonderful lady, Emma Watson is the ideal UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Her speech to the United Nations last month launched an initiative for global gender equality and underlined the world’s need for feminism, a great start to her reign. Explaining that feminism is not synonymous with man-hating, and that it wasn’t something she had to think about getting into, she goes on to say, “I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts and I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.” Her ‘HeforShe’ campaign hopes to enlist 1 billion boys and men to advocate for women’s rights across the globe.
Last man standing
The witty Joseph Gordon-Levitt had us on his side when earlier this year he proclaimed he was a feminist. It left people bewildered. Now, the 33-year-old actor has a sound explanation. In an interview, he said what he understands of the word is that ‘you don’t let your gender define who you are — you can be who you want to be, whether you’re a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, whatever’. And we couldn’t agree more! He explains further that it is important for people to be feminist as ‘if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be, it benefits society as a whole’. How we’d love him to be the poster boy for feminists the world over.
Sense and lots of sensibility
Another Emma on the list, Emma Thompson’s interviews, like her acting, get better with every passing one. Almost stand-up comedy like, her interviews are packed with feminist views
and critiques of the male-dominated Hollywood. So it is no surprise that when earlier this year at the National Board of Review gala, when Thompson was presented an award by fellow feminist Meryl Streep, it was possibly the most entertaining speech of the year. From speaking about menopause to thanking her team from Saving Mr Banks, she subtly hit back at all the roles that commodify women, by being grateful for the role that didn’t put her in a box of ‘married or mother’. Often playing haughty or matronly characters with a sense of irony, it’s no surprise that she was introduced by good friend Streep at the event as a ‘rabid man-eating feminist’!
Hilary Swank does not shy away from strong roles. She’s played a legendary pilot, Amelia Earhart, in Amelia, a boxer in Million Dollar Baby, transgender Brandon in Boys Don’t Cry and even feminist leader Alice Paul in Iron Jawed Angels — a clear feminist figure to the audience, winning her the favour of many
feminist groups. Her latest film sees her step up into the role of feminist Mary Bee Cuddy in Tommy Lee Jones’ elegiac neo-western The Homesman. Already labelled a ‘quasi-feminist tale’ that reverses the well-established genre’s typical story arc the trailer shows her as a tough as nails, rugged woman of the prairie.