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8 Loud and Proud Hollywood Feminists

By Akhila Nagar for Cake

The “F-word” has been used with extreme care in Hollywood. After all, it was easier claiming you stood for “all of humanity” than a ‘singular’ section of it. The F-word, now, is all the rage, with recent actors declaring one after the other their identification with the much dreaded word – feminism. One might say that situations haven’t changed much – female actors at the Oscars are shown in full body camera sweeps as sexual objects, and the questions usually asked to them during interviews have little do with their acting process and more with their weight loss projects. This, however, does not mean things are not changing.

hollywood feminists

1. Emma Watson

No longer is Emma Watson about magic spells, even though she certainly proved to the world the power of the female mind that patriarchy kept hidden for all these years – all through the world of Harry Potter. As UN’s Global’s Women Goodwill Ambassador, she launched the #HeForShe campaign in 2014, dispelling what she believes are the real intentions of feminism, and not the superficial ones that a scared society attaches to them. She believes feminism to be “equality politically, culturally, socially, economically“.

2. Terry Crews

Not all feminists would go to the extent of writing a book about it, but he did. ‘Manhood‘ received major thumbs up from the community, and his outspoken views on feminism clearly indication on women rights’ issues. Apart from talking about how men and women should be equal, he goes a step further to discuss an all pervasive concept – the idea of male pride. As he says, “if you feel you are more valuable than your wife or kids, that’s a problem“. He talks about the insidiousness of masculine dominance, and even uses 50 Shades of Grey as an example of how abuse is covered in romance. Now here’s one of the few guys who are not afraid of feminism!

3. Amy Poehler

Amy’s real issue is the contention behind the undesirability of the term “feminist” in modern media, and how, even women are shirking from the responsibility that comes along with such a word. She uses the analogy of the use of a car –

I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it… and then go on to denounce feminism.

She tries to develop positive female relationships and this is clearly seen in her real life relationship with Tina Fey, and her friendships on her show Parks and Recreation.

4. Ellen Page

Ellen Page is yet another actor highlighting the same problem – why are women so reluctant to call themselves feminists? Her moment, however, came during an Human Rights Campaign in Las Vegas where she came out as a lesbian. As she quotes, “she [was] tired of lying by omission“. It is interesting to note how coming out is still considered a “big deal“, just showing the levels to which patriarchy and the current social order is so removed from the idea of queer culture becoming a part of mainstream culture.

5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Say Hi to JGL. Citing that he has been fundamentally influenced by his mother on the ideas of women’s rights, JGL uses the example of motherhood – as a feminist, a woman can be a mother if she wants to, and she can refuse to if she wants to – and that her maternal power does not define her as a woman. Moreover, he understands that feminism is not an outdated issue, and women’s .deprecation, including their objectification if present all around. He asks his readers to weigh in their views on the subject.

6. Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones acted and produced the documentary Hot Girls Wanted, criticizing the porn industry for the expectations it builds up in both men and women. She talks about how porn is geared towards the male gaze, which makes a woman powerless and completely denies her any kind of sexual pleasure. She called today’s sex “objectified, sexualized, performative“. Rashida Jones brings up some key issues in the depiction of women in popular culture and the gender roles that have been assigned to them by patriarchal society. In fact, these women even economically lose their stability in society if they do not confine to such gender roles.

7. Mark Ruffalo

Apart from the fact that he believed that women directors should make at least half of the films in the entertainment industry, an observation that feminism was in fact “cool”, and open support for Emma Watson’s #HeForShe incentive, Ruffalo clearly describes his views on his tumblr page. Reminder: This page is not meant for what Ruffalo would call “arrogant little jerks“.

8. Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is an unlikely candidate for such an article, and a complex one at that, because her songs clearly don’t indicate any kind of feminist ideas. But what Taylor Swift truly believes in is liberation. Inspired to work hard regardless of being a boy or a girl as a child inculcated values in her that made her disregard the real-life implications of what it means to be a women. However, Emma Watson’s recent speech at the #HeForShe campaign certainly changed her mind.

It is interesting to note that all the pages that are cited above come from some kind of Hollywood reporting website, which clearly shows the leaps and bounds to which the industry has grown in its acceptance of feminist movements. While many female actors are on their way to accepting the tag of ‘feminist’, it seems like the men too are geared toward that role. That, while being a long step, is one that needs to be taken, if feminism, radical or liberal is to come into being.

If you like this article and would like to read more on issues concerning gender, sex and sexuality, head to Cake.

You must be to comment.
  1. ItsJustMe

    See all of these people are feminists. So you should be too. GTFO. More n more people in Hollywood are identifying themselves as egalitarian than feminists. If feminism was all about equality them these people wouldn’t need to search for a term which actually means equality.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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