For centuries, women across the world have struggled to be treated equally to their male counterparts. Through hard won political and social battles, women have managed to gain basic rights such as voting and employment. However, a notable gap still exists between male and females that keeps women from fully advancing in the workplace, even in the most advanced countries in the world.
No workplace is more publicly visible than that of Hollywood actors and actresses. And, just like women in every other kind of workplace, Hollywood actresses experience inequality and sexism. And, just like strong women of the past who have been vocal in fighting for women’s equality, a group of Hollywood celebrities have chosen to fight back against sexism. They have done so subtly and…not so subtly. Either way, they are making strides for women everywhere and giving sexism a good kick in the ass.
10. Lady Gaga
From the moment she stepped into the spotlight, Lady Gaga has made waves with her eccentric appearance. And though she receives ample attention from her wardrobe choices, she isn’t afraid to criticize media outlets that use airbrushing to enhance her looks. During Glamour’s 2013 Women of the Year Awards, Lady Gaga was honored by the magazine for which she had been the December cover girl.
During her speech, Lady Gaga was quick to criticize the use of Photoshop in her cover photos. “I felt my skin looked too perfect. I felt my hair looked too soft. I do not look like this when I wake up in the morning…It is fair to write about the change in your magazines. But what I want to see is the change on your covers…When the covers change, that’s when culture changes.”
9. Mindy Kaling
When Mindy Kaling joined the writing team for The Office, she was the only female on staff. She was also 24-years-old. Since then Kaling has been rising in her career; taking on the role of Kelly Kapoor on The Office as well as starring as Mindy Lahiri in The Mindy Project. She is an accomplished producer, director, writer, and actress. What has helped to carry her upward in her career? According to the star, her confidence has a lot to do with her success.
“I have a personality defect where I sort of refuse to see myself as an underdog. It has gotten me into a lot of trouble but is also the reason for my success. I often am reminded of it when people ask me why I’m confident…Why wouldn’t I be? It’s because my parents raised me with the entitlement of a tall, blonde, white man.”
8. Emma Stone
Emma Stone famously took on the role of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and has had lead roles in movies such as Easy A and The Help. Her work has earned her serious respect within the acting world as well as having placed her in a position to use her fame to advance female equality.
She accomplishes the latter with a great sense of humor and amazing class. For instance, when a reporter called out “You beautiful, as always,” during a press conference at which Stone was speaking, her response was memorable: “Thank you…that’s all that matters.” Stone’s comment shut down further discussion of her looks. And then there was the time Stone’s boyfriend and The Amazing Spider-Man costar Andrew Garfield referred to knitting as being feminine during the Amazing Spider-Man 2 press conference. Stone with quick to call Garfield out on his sexist comment.
7. Megan Fox
At 28 years old, Megan Fox has starred in two of the Transformers movies as well as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In both action movies, she took on roles that cast her as the damsel in distress who eventually helped save the world. In reality, Fox isn’t satisfied with the leading roles available for women in superhero movies. During an interview with MTV News, Fox was asked if she felt it was time for women to star as the superhero of a film. Her response? Sarcastic genius:
“Do you think that I would answer anything but yes, to that question? Do you think I would be like ‘No, it’s not time for women to be in movies, let’s take it back 50 years.”
6. Tina Fey
For a long time, Tina Fey was a part of the Saturday Night Live team of comedians until she branched out and began working on 30 Rock and a handful of hilarious movies. But the role that launched her into the realm of feminists was co-host of the 2014 Golden Globe Awards.
Along with comedian Amy Poehler, Tina Fey managed to make an award show into an event that spotlighted the inherent sexism of Hollywood. One of the many jokes of the evening was about George Clooney and his new wife, Amal. “Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was selected to a three-person U.N. commission investigation rules of war violations in the Gaza strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”
5. Jennifer Garner
The 42-year-old actress has climbed the career ladder and worked hard to obtain roles such as The Odd Life of Timothy Green and Dallas Buyers Club. She is an accomplished actress as well as producer. She also parents three children with actor Ben Affleck. And, she is a woman that isn’t afraid to speak her mind.
During a speech that Garner gave at Elle’s annual “Women in Hollywood” event, the actress noted the irony of having to hold such an event to honor actresses. “I mean, the ‘Men in Hollywood’ event is every day. It’s called Hollywood…Fifty-one percent of the population should not have to schedule a special event to celebrate the fact that in an art that tells the story of what it means to be human and alive, we get to play a part!”
4. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has taken a lot of flack for her continuous use of relationship woes as the theme of her songs. She’s been spotted dating and then breaking up with more than a handful of famous young men, and in her younger years she famously said she didn’t consider herself a feminist. But Swift has grown up, and has become a proud feminist.
When the 25-year-old singer/songwriter was asked about her desire to write song about her ex-boyfriends, her response nailed the sexism within the music industry. “I think, frankly, that’s a very sexist angle to take. No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriend, their love life. And no one raises a red flag there.” Point taken, Taylor.
3. Maggie Gyllenhaal
At the 2014 Golden Globe Awards, Maggie Gyllenhaal was awarded best actress in a miniseries for her amazing work in The Honorable Woman. The 37-year-old actress took her time on stage to recognize the roles of women in television.
“I’ve noted a lot of people talking about the wealth of roles for powerful women in television lately… What I see actually are women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not. Sometimes sexy, sometimes not. Sometimes honorable, sometimes not. And what I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and in film.”
2. Amy Poehler
As one of the funniest female comedians of the moment and the host of the 2014 Golden Globe awards, Amy Poehler has a huge platform to denounce sexism and inspire women everywhere. She chose the Golden Globe’s Red Carpet event to give sexism a good ass kicking. She introduced the hash tag #AskHerMore in an effort to force the media to ask women more than “What are you wearing” during red carpet interviews.
She is also the creator of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, a website that inspires women to be themselves. Poehler has been a member of Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation, and has been starred in films such as; Mean Girls and Baby Mama. She is also a writer, producer and director.
1. Emma Watson
The young woman who was once the adorable Hermione Granger in the beloved Harry Potter series is now the voice of the U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador. She introduced her new title with a passionate speech and a new way of speaking about feminism.
Instead of characterizing feminism as something that involves only women, she created the #HeforShe campaign to involve both genders and remove the “us vs. them” mentality from the women’s equality movement.
Watson has been outspoken on both social media and through interviews in her belief that sexism and female inequality must end. And she has taken to Twitter to support those who are searching for help against sexism. Most recently, when a young woman posed this question for Emma Watson; “my dad says I can’t be an engineer ’cause it’s a “men profession.” What do I do to change that?” Emma Watson’s response was sheer sexism ass kicking perfection: “Become an engineer.”
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