FEMINIST CONVERSATIONS: Priyanka Chopra, Amy Schumer, Kether Donahue & Kalki Koechlin

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Yeah, yeah, we know, it’s been a minute since we last published one of our Feminist Conversation pieces. This is the series we started to combat the myriad misconceptions around feminism with the hope that by sharing a range of different celebrities’ personal definitions and perspectives, it may challenge and dismantle the outdated notions that still exist around the movement.

We have found focusing on the voices of celebrities specifically can have a major impact because of their elevated platform, so while we don’t believe they are the ONLY voices of importance in the movement, we have created a way to share their opinions in a collective space and reserve the rest of our site for the badass work everyday people are doing.

In this edition we go all the way from Hollywood to Bollywood with 4 women who aren’t afraid to talk about feminism in their work and in their lives. Priyanka Chopra is one of the rare A-list actresses from Bollywood who has successfully crossed over to mainstream Hollywood with her turn playing the lead role of Alex Parrish in ABC’s ‘Quantico’. Many of you already probz know she is an outspoken feminist as we’re featured her in a previous edition of Feminist Conversations.

While filming the second series of ‘Quantico’, Priyanka spoke with Refinery29 about her views on feminism and how her own Indian culture played a part in shaping them.

“For eons, women have been told how to be or think or dress. I come from a part of the world where this debate is so heated, especially because we’re a country that has goddesses. We pray to women. But at the same time, we prey on them,” she said.

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In the conservative Indian culture, which we should add does include equal rights in its constitution – whereas the US has yet to ratify its own version, a fundamental revolution needs to take place involving the religious-based caste system which has determined not all people are equal, let alone women. Yet there is a growing feminist awakening happening across the country, especially in the wake of the horrific Delhi gang rape case of 2012.

“Feminism needs men to understand that we don’t want to berate you or kill you or hate you. We just need you to stand by us,” said Priyanka, echoing the idea that men need to be part of the conversation.

In the same interview she states that she is less inclined to be associated with any label, and she certainly doesn’t want to just be known as a beautiful woman, she wants to leave behind a legacy. We think her views on feminism and speaking openly to her vast audience which bridges two different cultures is already building that for her. More than anything, she wants people to know it is about women having choice.

“That’s what feminism is. Don’t judge me for being me, just like you don’t judge the boys. That’s all we want — equality in treatment,” she said.

Sounds simple, right? Sadly it has become such a problematic term, where certain people are too willing to deny there is a wage gap, that women already have equality, and that the reason we don’t have the same opportunities or benefits as men in some areas is because we don’t ask for it or we self-sabotage.

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Actress and comedian Amy Schumer goes one step further to claim that those who don’t believe in feminism are “insane”. We know there has been a lot of negativity toward her for her racist response to a Tweet about the ethnicity of men who catcall women, and she rightly should be challenged on such a viewpoint. We chose to include her in this piece because we believe it is important to hold celebrities accountable and use it as a teaching moment, especially in regard to the need for intersectionality and understanding about how race absolutely needs to be part of the feminist conversation.

In a recent interview with BBC Newsnight, Amy didn’t hold back on her bold declaration of feminism.

“I think anyone who’s not a feminist is an insane person. I think they don’t know what feminism means. It just means equality for women but I think that word has a whole different meaning for different people,” she said. It is something she is confronted with a lot because she speaks so openly about it in her comedy.

“Someone will say to me, ‘You’re not a feminist are you?’ and I’m like: ‘What does that mean to you?’ Of course I am, of course I want equal rights for women. I really think a lot of people don’t know what it means,” she explained.

She used Hillary Clinton as an example of why gender equality is important to her.

“I haven’t had a conversation with anyone who doesn’t like Hillary where they’ve had anything meaningful to say. I think she’s caught so much flak for so long now, because she isn’t what they think of as a woman. They were mad she wasn’t making cookies. But she was like, ‘Oh no, I’m getting healthcare for every mother in the country’. They don’t like how she speaks or dresses. It’s everything except how she would be as a president,” she said, which Hillary herself confirmed in a now-viral post for the Humans of New York Facebook Page where she explained the discriminatory treatment she received at college from some men because of her gender.

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Amy Schumer isn’t the only person who has managed to weave gender topics in her comedy. Actress Kether Donahue, who some may recognize as the former Bardon Bellas leader from  ‘Pitch Perfect’ as well as her current role on FX’s ‘You’re The Worst’, claims the show is walking the talk for feminism on screen and off.

She recently told Entertainment Tonight her character Lindsay’s interaction with Gretchen, played by Aya Cash, includes a lot of talk about feminist topics which stems from the shows’ creator Stephen Falk.

“He is a feminist. He shows that in the workplace: This year, the only other director besides Stephen is a female. He always makes sure there are female writers on his staff. The way he chooses to write Lindsay and Gretchen is very feminist — they are not in-the-box, cookie-cutter characters. I am very grateful to play a supporting female character in comedy who does not follow certain sidekick female comedy stereotypes,” she said.

She knows all too well about the importance of visual representation, as her experience being body-shamed plays into this. During college where she majored in communications and media studies, she talks about how she learned what a huge impact in-screen visuals have on young women.

“What you read, see and hear in media can either reinforce dominant ideologies or can challenge them and be a force of social change. Statistically, many girls have admitted that they have eating disorders because they feel that they don’t look like what the “perfect woman” is in a magazine or on TV. It’s so necessary to show eclectic body types that reflect the beauty — and the reality — of what all different women look like,” she said.

Representation is crucial, because as the saying goes, “you can’t be what you can’t see”. And if young men an women grow up in a world where all they know is gender stereotypes, we are going to repeat the same discriminatory cycles. This is why we feel is it important for celebrities to use their elevated platform to change the culture in a positive way.

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Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin, who we are huge fans of for the way she utilizes her social media presence, poetry and side projects to discuss the inequalities and harmful ideas about gender, recently stated that those who aren’t a feminist are “bad”.

“I feel one should come up with a basic ABCD video on feminism. If you are not a feminist you are a bad human being. Being a feminist means asking for equality. But people take it the other way at times. It is looked down upon because it is seen as man-hating. But, feminism is a really crazy idea that suggests men and women are equal,” she told DNAindia.com.

She performed a 17 minute piece at an event in Delhi which she titled “Wo-Manologue”, where she spoke about women needing to embrace their sexuality and not feel like they need to compete with men.

“No gender is fairer than the other. Women are not a doormat. We are equivalent to men. It is just that we have different bodies and different biological needs. We have capacities which should be celebrated and rewarded in the society,” she said.

There are specific legislative issues she believes needs to be changed drastically if gender equality is to be a reality in India – paternity leave, and marital rape.

“This will allow men to spend more time at home and women can in turn go out and work or spend time for themselves. Secondly, marital law has to recognize marital rape as an offense,” she said.

Watch Kalki take the audience on a journey throughout history where iconic fictional as well as real women have shaped and revolutionized the world, often being silenced and erased in the process in a world that has previously been built of patriarchy:


 

 

One Comment

  1. “We know there has been a lot of negativity toward her for her racist response to a Tweet about the ethnicity of men who catcall women, and she rightly should be challenged on such a viewpoint. We chose to include her in this piece because we believe it is important to hold celebrities accountable and use it as a teaching moment, especially in regard to the need for intersectionality and understanding about how race absolutely needs to be part of the feminist conversation.”

    Ummmm except there’s literally nothing in this article that actually addresses race or Amy’s racism. All you did was quote Amy in a favorable light that paints her as some sort of feminist hero. This article doesn’t even remotely try to break down racist comments by white feminists or racism in the feminist movement in general. Then you wonder why a racist cloud seems to always be hovering over feminists. It’s because of PPL like you who look for any excuse to slyly tip toe around the subject all the while giving off a false brief impression that you actually care about racism when you really don’t. Amy Schumer is a flat out racist and her being a feminist doesn’t change that ugly truth. Therefore her statements on feminism don’t deserve even a hint of praise, her good acts of feminism shouldn’t and don’t make up for her disgusting racism. A racist FEMINIST is still a bad person……

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