Fave Feminist Celebs

Here are my favorite feminist celebrities, in alphabetical order by first name:

Amy Poehler 

Funny woman, Amy Poehler doesn’t “get” the not-a-feminist “thing.” Equality is good, right?

I think some big actors and musicians feel like they have to speak to their audience and that word is confusing to their audience. But I don’t get it. That’s like someone being like, ‘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.’

Amy Poehler

Arianna Huffington

I met Arianna Huffington at this year’s BlogHer conference. And by “met” I mean she signed a book I bought and we exchanged a few words.

Best advice: Sleep your way to the top.

Which she means literally: “The latest feminist ‘revolution’ should be about getting enough sleep.”

Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington

Ashley Judd 

When Ashley Judd’s face looked puffy for a TV series promo, a furor erupted.

She responded, in part, with these lines, which went viral:

The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at us, and used to define and control us.

The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately.

We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification.

Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.

The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.

Ashley Judd: What a feminist looks like

Ashley Judd: What a feminist looks like

Ashton Kutcher

Ashton has a few wise words, like these:

I think there’s so much that’s not said about sex in our country, even from an educational level … the one thing they teach about is how to get pregnant or how to not get pregnant, but they don’t really talk about sex as a point of pleasure for women…

Part of that creates a place where women aren’t empowered around their own sexuality and their own sexual selves, and from a purely entertainment point of view, to create a movie with a female lead that’s empowered with her own sexuality is a powerful thing.

Ashton Kutcher

Ashton Kutcher

Beyoncé

Some might mistake a critique of objectification for objectification, but ya gotta love Beyoncé strutting her stuff in front of a giant screen emblazoned with the word, “FEMINIST” at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Especially while sampling phrases from feminist author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and defining feminism for one and all as:

Feminism believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

Beyonce, feminist

Beyonce, feminist

Claire Danes

Despite Claire Danes’ success she knows first hand that the playing field is not yet level:

I am a feminist… Yes, women have more freedom and more influence than ever, but it’s hardly equal. It’s just not. It’s really f–ing crazy. I’m sorry I’m cursing. But it’s wild that women are underrepresented [in Hollywood].

Claire Danes

Claire Danes

Dustin Hoffman

When makeup artists transformed Dustin Hoffman into a woman for Tootsie, he was surprised that “she” was not — and would never be — beautiful. He suddenly saw how men unconsciously uphold impossible beauty ideals and fail to notice some pretty amazing, but “unattractive,” women.

He told his wife,

I think I am an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen. And I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn’t fulfill physically the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order to ask them out… There’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.

Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie

Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie

Ellen Page 

Radical means get to the root of the problem. Which is just fine by Ellen Page:

I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists … but how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word? … Feminism always gets associated with being a radical movement — good. It should be.

Ellen Page on feminism

Ellen Page on feminism

Emma Stone 

Emma Stone is a passionately opinionated woman. And when a boy asked her boyfriend, a.k.a. Spiderman, how the superhero got his costume, Andrew Garfield replied,

He made it with his bare hands. He sewed it… It’s kind of a feminine thing to do, but he really made a very masculine costume.

To which Ms. Stone retorted,

It’s feminine, how?

After stumbling about Garfield eventually acknowledged that “We all have feminine in us, young men.”

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield

Emma Watson 

Hermione Granger of Harry Potter is a strong-girl-turned-strong-woman. And so is her alter ego, Emma Watson, who recently spoke before the United Nations on the need for feminism. Some of my favorite quotes:

Feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that will affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.

My parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume that I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influences are the gender equality ambassadors that made me who I am today. They may not know it but they are the inadvertent feminists needed in the world today. We need more of those.

Emma Watson

Emma Watson

Hillary Clinton

Thanks to Hillary Clinton the glass ceiling over the White House has 18 million cracks. In 2016 she just might shatter it.

After spending a great deal of her time fighting for women and girls, she defends the “f-word” as simply supporting equal rights for women:

I don’t see anything controversial about that at all.

And if you think feminism is old-fashioned or out of date, she adds,

I don’t think you’ve lived long enough.

No one puts Hillery in a binder

No one puts Hillery in a binder

John Legend

John Legend sings so sweetly:

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.

John Legend

John Legend

Jon Hamm

John Hamm hums a pretty tune:

Men ruled the roost and women played a subservient role (in the 1960s). Working wives were a rarity, because their place was in the home, bringing up kids. The women who did work were treated as second class citizens, because it was a male-dominated society. That was a fact of life then. But it wouldn’t be tolerated today, and that’s quite right in my book… people look back on those days through a thick veil of nostalgia, but life was hard if you were anything other than a rich, powerful, white male.

Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm

Joseph Gordon-Levitt 

When Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s mom took him to Lakers games she’d point out that the players on the court get to be heroic, skilled athletes, but the cheerleaders only get to be pretty.

Today, he’s a feminist because he doesn’t think gender should define you. Plus, he sees that:

If you look at history, women are an oppressed category of people. There’s a long, long history of women suffering abuse, injustice and not having the same opportunities as men, and I think that’s been very detrimental to the human race as a whole. 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.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington has a long history of political activism, speaking out against racism and sexism. She explains,

I don’t participate in the political process as a “celebrity” or person in the public eye. I come from a political family. Talking politics and social issues, it was at the dinner table. It was a part of how I was raised. Giving back and participating in our democracy is part of how I was raised.

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham, writer, producer, director and star of “Girls” tires of people not owning up to the movement.

Women saying ‘I’m not a feminist’ is my greatest pet peeve. Do you believe that women should be paid the same for doing the same jobs? Do you believe that women should be allowed to leave the house? Do you think that women and men both deserve equal rights? Great, then you’re a feminist.

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham

Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde queried her Twitter followers:

What do you think most holds back justice and equality for women?

And she did a gender-reversed reading of an American Pie script:

It was so fascinating to be a part of this, because as the women took on these central roles that had all the good lines, therefore all the good laughs, all the great moments — the men, who had joined us to sit on stage, started squirming rather uncomfortably. And got really bored. Because they weren’t used to being the supporting cast. It was fascinating to feel their discomfort, to discuss it with them afterwards when they said, ‘It’s boring to play the girl role.’ And I said, ‘Yeah. Yeah, ya think? Welcome to our world.’

Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde

Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart works for women’s equality because he knows what happens behind closed doors without it:

The truth is that domestic violence and violence against women touch many of us. This violence is not a private matter. Behind closed doors it is shielded and hidden and it only intensifies. It is protected by silence — everyone’s silence. Violence against women is learned. Each of us must examine — and change — the ways in which our own behavior might contribute to, enable, ignore or excuse all such forms of violence. I promise to do so, and to invite other men and allies to do the same.

Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Ryan Gosling 

When University of Wisconsin grad student, Danielle Henderson, struggled to learn numerous feminist theories, she created a Tumblr called “Feminist Ryan Gosling.”

Thoughts supposedly spilling from RG’s mouth, went like this:

  • Hey girl, Ann Kaplan asks, “Is the gaze male?” But all I know is I can’t take my eyes off of you.
  • Hey girl, I stood with Wendy Davis, But I’d lie down with you anywhere.
  • Hey girl, I’d love to blow up the patriarchal dialectic that traps us in a constant struggle for dominant subject-hood. But I think you should do the honors.

Turns out, Mr. Gosling’s real-life thoughts are pretty feminist:

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 OK 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.

hey girl, ryan gosling

Seth Meyers 

Friend of feminists, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, observes:

When you work with the sort of really strong women that I work with, the idea that anyone would want to make decisions for them is hard to wrap your head around.

Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers

Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, tells women everywhere to lean in and embrace your ambition. She adds,

I embrace the word ‘feminism.’ I didn’t do it earlier in my career and I talk about why in the book, but I embrace it now because what feminism is, is a belief that the world should be equal, that men and women should have equal opportunity…

(And) it’s incumbent upon all of us to be feminists — men and women.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

Tina Fey

Bossypants author, Tina Fey is well-known for quips like:

  • Bitches get shit done.
  • You have to stop calling each other sluts and whores, because that just makes it okay for guys to call you those things.
  • If I have to listen to one more grey-faced man with a $2 haircut explain to me what rape is, I’m going to lose my mind.
Tina Fey: Bitches get stuff done.

Tina Fey: Bitches get stuff done.

Numerous quotes via MTV and HuffingtonPost.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 26, 2014, in feminism, sexism, women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. This is so heartening and wonderful, thank you! 😀

  2. I wonder if we exchanged favorite feminist authors/intellectuals whether our lists would overlap, here’s mine:

    1) Nancy Chodorow
    2) Rosalind Coward
    3) Lynne Segal
    4) Cristina L. H. Traina

    These are the heavy hitters in my book. They are in their own category.

    Rene Denfeld does not identify as feminist but I love her. “bell hooks” I greatly appreciate but she does not engage counter-arguments frequently enough for me.

    • Great list. Thanks for sharing.

      I like:

      Simone de Beauvoir, Carol Gilligan, Patricia Hill Collins, Michael Kimmel, Audrey Lorde, bell hooks, Judith Lorber, John Stoltenburg, Naomi Wolf, Michael Messner, Stephanie Coontz,

      Gloria Steinem, Jessica Valenti and Amanda Marcotte are a few of my favorites in mainstream media.

  3. Great list. I love the latest evolution that is happening around this word. It feels like it’s becoming less and less a “dirty” word and more the way it should be – and that if you aren’t one you are out of touch with the times… not for everyone, I know, but moreso than before. Just a year ago owning and naming the word for myself out loud felt uncomfortable because of people’s reactions- I feel that there is less of that, or a least people are less willing to admit that they think you are problematic.. cuz that would be admitting that you don’t believe women should have equal rights for men… at least the way the word is being talked about lately.

    • Yes, Emma Watson and Beyoncé have been especially powerful in that evolution of late.

    • “It feels like it’s becoming less and less a “dirty” word and more the way it should be – and that if you aren’t one you are out of touch with the times…”

      Yes, I would agree. I think feminism is about the dignity of women. The right to the same freedoms, the right to be respected and treated as an equal, and the right to equal opportunity in all areas. When defined in this manner, I think the majority of men and women are fine with feminism.

      When it become ant-male is when a problem occurs and people perceive feminism in a negative light. While there are fringe radical feminists, most feminist are mainstream. Some individual women are certainly anti-male. Just as certain individuals are bigoted.

  4. I love this list. While a political conservative/libertarian, I have immense respect for all of these individuals.

    One of the best books on our economy is Ariana Huffington’s, “Third World America.” Great read! I really do not care who the messenger is, I am more interested in the message and its substance.

    Most of the people on this list DO see the big picture, especially Emma Watson and Ryan Gosling. I think Sen Clinton is a bit of a demagogue. Nevertheless, I do have respect for her.

    Btw, Sen. Clinton as a celeb? Interesting.

  5. I’m very glad to see this list. I feel as though, lately anyway, feminism has been under fire and I’ve heard of a few female celebrities that have specifically denied being feminists. I’m guessing they don’t want to alienate their fan base.
    I’m concerned that the younger generation has associated feminism with hatred. My own very intelligent and thoughtful teenage daughter expressed concern about feminists being man-haters and produced an article for me to read that argued all the statistical data that supports a patriarchal society was either false or grossly overstated. We’ve had many conversations since and I have forwarded her many articles (including Broad Blogs) to attempt to change her point of view.

    • Great! Thanks for being such a great advocate.

      I’m really glad to see high-profile people like Beyoncé, Emma Watson and Ryan Gosling coming out with their feminist views.

      And this quote from Ellen page is so true: “How could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?”

  6. “If I have to listen to one more grey-faced man with a $2 haircut explain to me what rape is, I’m going to lose my mind.”

    $2 haircut. Hilarious!!!!!

  7. I “liked” your post, even though John Lennon and Yoko Ono didn’t make the cut. 😉

    But seriously, without having studied the issue and the history of feminism in-depth, I’m open to the idea that perhaps I’ve overestimated how much they contributed.

  8. I’m not so sure about Beyonce. Not just how she depicts her self, but how some songs its about “girls run the world” or empowerment. But then she’ll have a song “bow down bitches” or against other women or cockiness toward other women. Her feminism is pretty selective it seems.

  9. All great people. I especially like that you included men. I have seen some feminist say men cannot be feminist anymore than a straight person can be gay. They are ‘allies’ to feminists. Well, I disagree. You believe in gender equality, you are feminist – end of story.

    Also, I love that you included Beyonce. I’m not the hugest fan of her music, but I love how powerful of a voice she is. She’s a great person and the fact she sometimes sings with very small clothes on doesn’t detract from that.

  10. I loved reading all of this. Thanks for sharing.

  11. This is wonderful…..nice to know about these celebrities who hold the same views when it comes to feminism…

  12. This is a great article with many great examples of feminists.
    I especially like that there are opinions of both woman and men mentioned.

    In the comments section I have seen a very interesting reply by Jessica, as she brings up an important issue when it comes to “feminists” which is that for some reason it is often associated with “women who hate men”.

    From all the opinions from the celebs in the article, I think that Lena Durham´s comment might sum it up the best- it is about equality in the different areas of life and nothing else.

  13. That’s an awesome list. I think it’s wonderful to have all these stars support feminism and give it the attention it deserves. Not only does this help create an equal opportunity for all, it also gives people a different point of view to look at society through.

  14. Although in today’s society, feminism is always preached, many people are not on the right track. I want to use the song which is sung by Beyonce as the example. In the part of the lyric calling the female a bitch. If the song is to promote feminism, then why should they claim themselves as bitches? I think an equal right is not just a matter of owning the same thing or money, to a greater extent is that people should change the stereotype in the past and remove the old stereotype to make everyone equal. Many of stars in today’s society are very irresponsible for their words. Due to their great influence, bad things are more impressive and bad things that a star has done tend to be the most likely to be remembered.

    • Someone else brought up the “Bitch” song by Beyoncé. And at least one person thinks it’s a feminist song, I left a link to the other comment above. But I’ll so think that feminists aren’t always perfect, Which could be the case here.

  15. I like seeing a large collection of various feminist celebrities, and what they say are right on. I noticed that I’ve heard some of their sayings from other people, which I don’t mind because someone has to bring femininst messages to people who have never heard them before. Citizens who like listening to their favorite stars will finally learn what feminists think and believe, as long as the media allows the messages to be published to the public. Neverthess, these celebrities have a huge advantage to spread the word more efficiently than those who are not widely famous. It’s also nice to see more examples of males expessing feminist values. There should be even more to help counter what sexist and/or abusive males are projecting (i.e. Chris Brown).

    My favorite quote is Tina Fey’s, “You have to stop calling each other sluts and whores, because that just makes it okay for guys to call you those things.” I remember her saying that in Mean Girls to all of the Junior girls and thinking that she is absolutely right on. With the high popularity of that movie, hopefully enough female viewers were able to identify that quote for themselves and understand its meaning. I am also in favor of the words from Claire Danes, Emma Watson, and Ryan Gosling.

  16. I think its great that there are so many celebrity feminists in the industry. Celebrities can make such a big difference because of their large following. They have the powerful ability to reach millions of people through social media because of their fame. This can be achieved not only through social media but also by the songs they sing or roles they decide to play in movies. Many celebs have a cult like following as crazy as it sounds and they can take advantage of it and use it to promote positive movements like female equality. A name on the list that stood out the most to me was Beyonce. She is an international superstar and a role model to young people all over the world. I was unaware of the time she used her platform to promote feminism on MTV. She performed with the words feminism in all caps in the background. When someone like beyonce talks people listen and its great that she uses her celebrity to bring attention to important topics.

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