Women’s History Month gives us a reason to reflect on the invaluable accomplishments women have made in history. Of these accomplishments, there is one that still reaches headlines in recent news, one fight that remains overtly active: the fight for gender equality. There are feminists in history who have made hugely significant leaps for the movement, those who will be remembered for their incredible activism, but this battle remains prominent in society because it’s still a problem. The modern woman still battles inequality daily. Feminist history is happening here and now, and it’s here for us all to observe and support moving forward.
Public figures have influence far beyond the reach of many activists. Thankfully, the fight for women’s rights has grown drastically loud in recent years, with celebrity feminists wearing the “feminist” label proudly. Take a look at these five feminist celebrities and their moves toward a better, profoundly more equal tomorrow.
Queen Bey gave an unforgettable performance at this year’s MTV Music Video Awards, one that will probably go down as one of the best of all time. Her performance featured quotes from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talks. His voice interjected the medley, giving the audience something unexpected. His voice filled the hall. “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you will threaten the man.’” And then “FEMINIST” was plastered on the screen, the word emblazoned with Beyoncé framing it unapologetically. There’s no doubt that Queen Bey is proud to be one of the most prominent and influential celebrity feminists.
“Women are more than 50% of the population and more than 50% of voters and must demand that we all receive 100% of the opportunities.” –Beyonce in her essay “Gender Equality is a Myth”
2. Taylor Swift
Pop star Taylor Swift has recently gained recognition as a celebrity feminist. From encouraging people to “shake it off” and be themselves to empowering women through her lyrics, T. Swift has made a name for herself as a feminist in Hollywood. As a celebrity with a fan base of younger women, it’s important for her to support feminism and inspire young girls and women everywhere to believe in equality. After a sort of “feminist awakening” due to a new friendship with fellow feminist, Lena Dunham, Swift has taken the opportunity to speak about embracing feminism in several interviews.
“I really didn’t like the whole serial-dater thing. I thought it was a really sexist angle on my life. And so I just stopped dating people, because it meant a lot to me to set the record straight—that I do not need some guy around in order to get inspiration, in order to make a great record, in order to live my life, in order to feel okay about myself. And I wanted to show my fans the same thing.” – Taylor Swift
3. Patricia Arquette
The wage gap has been rising to the top of the social issues hierarchy and that growth can be partly contributed to Patricia Arquette’s Oscars acceptance speech. Her speech helped this issue get recognition on live television. By taking the opportunity during her speech to acknowledge the issue and take a stance on the inequality that exists between men and women’s pay, the award winning actress solidified herself as one of the most politically influential feminists in Hollywood. The speech earned a standing applause from Meryl Streep (Goddess of all) and You go girls from several other movie stars in attendance. Arquette gets a “You go girl!” from us here at HerCampus too. Check out Sarah Silverman’s hilarious video for an explanation of the wage gap and her project to close it.
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” – Patricia Arquette
4. Emma Watson
Emma Watson started gearing up as a feminist icon years ago, but it wasn’t necessarily expected for the young Harry Potter actress to be named the UN Women’s Global Goodwill Ambassador. Her image was forever changed when she delivered an incredibly powerful speech at the United Nations, announcing the UN Women Campaign HeForShe. The program calls for men all over the world to stand beside women in advocating for gender equality. The speech quickly spread across social media platforms and was soon viewed over 17 million times on YouTube. Her activism has inspired many men and women because of her credibility within the feminist community.
“I think people associate [feminism] with hate—with man-hate—and that’s really negative. I don’t think that’s what feminism is about at all. I think it’s something incredibly positive. I’m aware of a lot more male feminists now than I was a few years ago, and it’s really heartening. People have come back to what the actual definition means. Which is ‘equality politically, culturally, socially, economically.’ That’s it. That simple.” –Emma Watson
5. Amy Poehler
Last but certainly not least, my favorite celebrity feminist is Amy Poehler. Amy Poehler and her wildly popular character on Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope, go hand in hand. Leslie Knope is the epitome of an uplifting feminist in a sexist and male-dominated profession, and Poehler has embodied the role perfectly. Poehler hosts the website Smart Girls at the Party which exists to empower women with the motto, “Change the world by being yourself!” Her book Yes Please was a bestseller and was loaded with feminist statements. She’s a feminist and she doesn’t care who knows it. Amy Poehler is hilarious, charming, and advocates for equality in the classiest way. There’s nothing flashy about it; it’s her making a concentrated effort to use her popular status in Hollywood to promote something good. Both Amy Poehler and the fictional Leslie Knope have made very real changes in the feminist community and as far as I’m concerned, Amy Poehler claims the title of Most Badass Celebrity Feminist.
“It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and your real estate.” – Amy Poehler
“If you’re someone who genuinely believes that women don’t deserve or aren’t as much as men, you’re like the plague. On the big history chart, you’re the plague…It’s just pointless and deadly.” –Amy Poehler