Stars and starlets in 2014 continued the old Hollywood tradition of denouncing feminism. Equality: who needs it?
Kaley Cuoco made headlines a few days ago when she was the latest in a long series of Hollywood women to weigh in on why they aren’t feminists. Although she now says that her comments were taken out of context, they made me wonder, as those comments always do: why are so many women still denouncing feminism?
We can recall that feminism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” Much like in AA, where they say that “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking,” there is no one right way to be a feminist — as long as you believe in equal rights for women, you qualify.
So what’s going on with the (powerful, successful) women of Hollywood? Why are they still lining up to announce that they don’t identify as feminists?
Here are some of this year’s high-profile, self-proclaimed anti-feminists — and where they’ve gone wrong.
Shailene Woodley isn’t a feminist because she loves men.
With the Divergent franchise in full swing, plus plenty of other movies under her belt (including the hugely successful Fault in Our Stars), Shailene Woodley is certainly having her moment. In May, Time interviewed the young star and asked her if she considered herself a feminist. She answered, “No, because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.”
Aww, Shailene. You’re so adorable.
Leaving aside the “because I love men” for a moment, the fact is, Shailene, you’re right: we DO need balance. That’s precisely why feminism is so important. Right now, and throughout much of history, there has been a gross imabalance in power between the sexes. Feminism is concerned with correcting that imbalance.
Lana Del Rey isn’t a feminist because it’s boring.
Unlike Shailene, this one didn’t surprise me. Lana Del Rey’s artistic persona was built on a kind of extreme ennui, punctuated with imagery of sexual violence that serve as attempts to break through the fog of her own disassociation. “For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept,” she told Fader in June. “I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities.” Apparently, there are no feminists on Mars.
Salma Hayek isn’t a feminist because she’ll fight for anyone’s rights.
Remember the rainbow-hued, women-driven gem that was Ugly Betty? Salma Hayek served as executive producer. She has had a very successful career both in front of and behind the camera, and last year, she founded Chime for Change, a woman’s rights campaign. In her own words, her seven year old daughter “is aware that her mommy fights for the rights of women.”
But she’s not a feminist.
In November, Salma was honored for her work on behalf of women. On the red carpet at that event, she told People: “I am not a feminist. If men were going through the things women are going through today, I would be fighting for them with just as much passion. I believe in equality.”
Just to recap: Equality: what feminists are fighting for. Equality: what feminists have been fighting for since the beginning.
Kaley Cuoco isn’t a feminist because she’s never faced inequality.
Kaley’s comments came in the form of a Redbook interview (always a bad sign). While she talked about not having had to face inequality, and loving to put dinner on the table for her husband, she did also reference the feminists who came before our time. “I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around,” she said — and she reiterated that sentiment in remarks posted to Instagram after the article was published. I do feel for women who have to give these interviews, knowing the journalist will emphasize whatever they need to for maximum sensation; but even so, Kaley, I’ve gotta tell you: maybe you don’t feel as though you’ve faced inequality, but you have. Every woman in this country does. We still need feminism, and we still need change.
Bonus: Kristen Stewart does believe in feminism. At least we’ve got a swaggering former Joan Jett on our side.