Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Asking female celebrities whether they identify as a feminist has become the go-to question for interviewers, but it should be an important question to ask men too. Everyone should be in favor of equality between genders, because it improves the lives of everyone, both male and female.
The label “feminist” carries some negative connotations that people seem to want to distance themselves from. Things like man-hating, bra burning, and being power hungry are all assumptions people tend to make about feminists. But being a feminist is not wanting to be seen as better than men. It is simply wanting to be seen as, and be treated as, equal.
Male celebrities have the opportunity to set an example for men everywhere by supporting the rights of women, and by speaking out, they give the feminist movement more credibility. Spreading the word about what being a feminist really means, instead of what people think it means, is incredibly important to its success. Here are 10 male celebrities who not only identify as feminist, but they are comfortable speaking out about it, and advocating for the goals that feminism hopes to achieve.
The most recent incarnation of James Bond, Daniel Craig, starred in a short video for International Women’s Day 2011 where he dressed as a woman. The voice over, by Judi Dench, explains, “Women are responsible for two thirds of the work done worldwide, yet earn only 10 percent of the total income and own 1 percent of the property… So, are we equals? Until the answer is yes, we must never stop asking.” The video also points out that fighting for gender equality is “not just about money and power,” it is about basic human rights.
When his film co-starring Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine, was given an NC-17 rating because of sex scenes, Ryan Gosling released a statement slamming double standards in the film industry. “You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen… The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.”
In a 2013 speech for CHIME for Change, Prince Harry said, “when women are empowered, they immeasurably improve the lives of everyone around them — their families, their communities, and their countries. This is not just about women, we men need to recognize the part we play too. Real men treat women with dignity and give them the respect they deserve.” Prince Harry has embraced his part as a huge role model not only for his country, but for the world, and he is using his power to promote women’s rights, just like every man should.
At the March 2013 Sound of Change Live concert, John Legend told the crowd, “all men should be feminists. If men care about women’s rights the world will be a better place. We are better off when women are empowered — it leads to a better society.” When people are able to be who they are and make the right decisions for themselves without the fear of judgement, the world will be a simpler place. The music video for Legend’s song “You and I (Nobody in the World)” further demonstrates his support of women being free to be comfortable in their own skin.
Joseph Gordon Levitt
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Joseph Gorden Levitt said, “what feminism means to me 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. However you want to define yourself, you can do that and should be able to do that, and no category ever really describes a person because every person is unique. That, to me, is what ‘feminism’ means. So yes, I’d absolutely call myself a feminist. . . I’m a believer that if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it’s better for everyone. It benefits society as a whole.” That’s pretty much feminism in a nutshell, right there.
Alan Alda has been proving his entire career that feminism and women’s rights are not just a trend for the current generation. He told HuffPost Live “I think misogyny is like a disease that needs to be cured. And if we could eradicate Polio, I don’t see why we can’t eradicate misogyny.” He has also spoken out for women’s rights on the Equal Rights Amendment Countdown Campaign, written articles discussing women’s issues for Ms. Magazine, and was named “the quintessential honorary woman” by the Boston Globe.
In a 2012 interview with Vulture, Canadian actor and writer, Jay Baruchel said, “I was raised by my mom, I have a little sister, and I’m constantly annoyed by how terribly written most females are in most everything — and especially in comedy. Their anatomy seems to be the only defining aspect of their character, and I just find that untruthful and it straight-up offends me. A lot of the strongest people I know are chicks. And as a viewer, I get a kick out of watching real characters. So I take it upon myself to clean that up and write actual women. And I like writing strong women, because as a straight male, there’s nothing more attractive to me than a strong girl.”
Joss Whedon, the creator of strong female roles like Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is often asked the question, “Why do you write such strong female characters?” In his acceptance speech for a 2006 Equality Now award, he answered that question once and for all. “Because, equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition.” Why people would need a reason for creating strong female characters is mind blowing.
Best known for his iconic roles of Professor X in the X-Men franchise, and Captain Picard in Star Trek, Patrick Stewart is also an advocate for women’s rights. He grew up with an abusive father, and saw how his own mother was treated on a daily basis. He works with organizations like Refuge, and has been saying that it is on men to stop abuse against women, for years. “The truth is my mother did nothing to deserve the violence she endured. She did not provoke my father, and even if she had, violence is an unacceptable way of dealing with conflict. Violence is a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it.”
Mark Ruffalo has been outspoken about his views on abortion ever since he found out his mother had to seek an abortion when she was a teenager, when it was illegal to do so. He is 100% pro-choice and has said, “My own mother fought to make herself more than a possession; she lived her life as a mother who chose when she would have children, and a wife who could earn a living if she so chose. I want my daughters to enjoy that same choice.” Allowing women the right to choose what happens to her own body is a huge part of the feminist movement, and one that people cannot forget about.
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