There are plenty of reasons to feel disheartened theses days. From sexist heads of state, to pay inequity, to anti-choice regulation in so many countries, it feels as though gender equality is but a distant dream. thankfully, here to put fire in our bellies and hope on the horizon is a list of women who have not given up the good fight.
After years of songs with feminist undertones, the mother-of-three finally made things explicit in 2013 with the tune “Flawless”. The track included a quote, written and spoken by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, some of which read, “Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
From the bookish and headstrong character choices of Hermione and Belle, to her political activism with the UN and the UK arm of Time’s Up (grammar notwithstanding), Watson has proved herself to be a force for feminist good again and again.
The Academy Award winner is as noted for her blockbuster films as her philanthropic work. The mother-of-six spoke bravely of her decision to have a double mastectomy and the surgical removal of her ovaries after losing her mother, grandmother and aunt to cancer. Her work with the UN focusses largely on women’s struggles in war-torn areas, and she has received Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her humanitarian efforts.
After years of unequal pay, Oscar-winning Davis came out against the racial pay gap. At the Women In The World Los Angeles Salon she said, “I have a career that’s probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver. …They had the same path as me, and yet, I am nowhere near them, not as far as money, not as far as job opportunities, no where close to it.”
She continued, “People say, “You’re a black Meryl Streep. You are and we love you”…Well, then if there’s no one like me. You pay me what I’m worth…I’m not hustling for my worth. I’m worthy.”
The vocal supporter of the Time’s Up Movement put her money where her mouth is when she ensured Octavia Spencer got the same pay as her for a project.
After Spencer alerted Chastain to the racial pay disparity, Chastain used her power to negotiate the same pay packet for the actress.
After her last two public relationship break-ups the singer and former child star released statements slamming sexist public responses. Most recently, the engaged star spoke out about the toxic response to her ex Mac Miller’s DUI. When fans began to blame Grande she wrote a lengthy response, which included, “How absurd that you minimise female self-respect and self-worth…I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be…Shaming/blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his sh*t together is avery major problem.”
The Hunger Games star made waves in 2015 after she created a YouTube video called, “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows.” The teen took four minutes to explain how cultural appropriation works and why it’s so damaging.
More recently, the actress, singer and activist came out as gay, telling the world, “The continual process of unlearning heteronormativity and internalised homophobia can be difficult, but one of the biggest blessings lies in the magic that comes from having to understand love outside the confines of learned heterosexual roles.”
After the Sony hack, Lawrence was one of the first stars to talk openly about Hollywood’s pay gap problem. Despite being hesitant to talk about the issue due to her overwhelming financial privilege, she did for Lenny Letter. The Hunger Games star asked the question why do men successfully negotiate higher pay, when women don’t? She concluded her essay, “another leaked Sony email revealed a producer referring to a fellow lead actress in a negotiation as a “spoiled brat.” For some reason, I just can’t picture someone saying that about a man.”
Comedian, writer, actress and producer, Kaling has consistently proved to be a pioneer in her industry. One of the few Indian-American women in comedy Kaling refuses to be seen as an outsider not worthy of self-confidence.
In her book, Why Not Me? she wrote, “People’s reaction to me is sometimes “Uch, I just don’t like her. I hate how she thinks she is so great.” But it’s not that I think I’m so great. I just don’t hate myself… And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.”
Whilst the singer and actress’ feminist acts are too numerous to recount, her 2016 Billboard Women in Music Awards, Women of the Year acceptance speech proved that the New Yorkers politics are as on-point as ever.
Speaking to the misogyny she has endured through a 34-year music career she said, “If you’re a girl, you have to play the game. You’re allowed to be pretty and cute and sexy. But don’t act too smart. Don’t have an opinion that’s out of line with the status quo. You are allowed to be objectified by men and dress like a slut, but don’t own your sluttiness. And do not, I repeat do not, share your own sexual fantasies with the world. Be what men want you to be, but more importantly, be what women feel comfortable with you being around other men. And finally, do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticised and vilified and definitely not played on the radio.”
The Orange Is The New Black star took to Twitter last year to discuss how important the inclusion of trans women in feminism is, for cis women as much as trans women, she wrote, “Gender exists on a spectrum & the binary narrative which suggests that all trans women transition from male privilege erases a lot of experiences and isn’t intersectional. Gender is constituted differently based on the culture we live in. There’s no universal experience of gender, of womanhood. To suggest that is essentialist & again not intersectional.”
From: ELLE UK