FEMINIST CONVERSATIONS: Comedian Margaret Cho, Actor Tim Allen & Bond Girl Naomie Harris

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Welcome to the second installment in our new series called ‘Feminist Conversations‘ which we felt was a necessary addition to our site. There is a lot of talk about feminism these days and whether the movement is still relevant, positive, empowering etc. Since the question of whether a person identifies as a feminist comes up a lot especially in interviews with celebrities, we feel it is necessary to share diverse and positive affirmations of the movement.

Why? Because almost every day there is someone denouncing feminism, (Marion Cotillard and Meryl Streep most recently and most disappointingly coming from an actress playing iconic women’s rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst in ‘Suffragette’) which we feel happens in some cases when they don’t even understand what the movement is about, or they are just scared.

Let’s be clear, the definition of feminism is the social, political and economic equality of both genders, meaning men can be feminists (and are!) and anyone who doesn’t “believe” in feminism is essentially saying they don’t believe in gender equality or that it is even worth fighting for.

With all that in mind, let’s dive into this post and share what three celebrities had to say about the movement. First up is new Bond girl and British actress Naomie Harris. She spoke to Cosmopolitan UK about reprising her role as Moneypenny in the upcoming ‘Spectre’ movie in the 007 series, and also shared her thoughts on feminism.

Normally when we think of Bond girls we think of the sexualized women who essentially play objects of desire for James Bond, so Naomie was asked whether the female characters in these movies can be considered powerful or feminist.

“I think you absolutely can now. Sam [Mendes, director] loves strong, multidimensional women; that’s incredibly important to him. Barbara Broccoli [daughter of original Bond producer Albert] is at the helm of the franchise too, and she’s a strong woman who has a big say in how the characters are developed,” she said.

She makes specific mention of Monica Belucci’s character in the new film as well, saying she is a firm departure from previous women. It surprised many that Sam Mendes finally cast a woman of similar age (Monica is 50) to James Bond, because as Helen Mirren expertly pointed out, over the years agent Bond has gotten more and more geriatric while his love interests have gotten younger and younger.

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Naomie’s specific understanding of feminism comes from being a woman in Hollywood, an industry that is not always kind to the females.

“It’s tougher for women in film. There are women doing it, but yeah, it’s harder,” she says about women being counted on to carry a big movie.

For many women in Hollywood who call themselves feminists, it is about the sexist double standards and unequal opportunities afforded to them. Which is why we need an army of women speaking out in favor of feminism so that others understand it is not a movement of hate.

Moving on to our second feminist, Tim Allen. He is known for is role as Tim the Tool Man Taylor in the popular 90s sitcom ‘Home Improvement’ and playing the title role in the ‘Santa Claus’ movies. Now he can be seen in the TV series ‘Last Man Standing’ and he recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the show.

It is targeted to a more conservative mid-west audience with its mix of politics, guns and family-oriented storylines. He said the show does really well in Ohio which is mostly conservative, and although some topics on the show portray women in a certain way, it does not necessarily reflect his own views. He is a liberal in real life, playing a Republican on a TV show which has given him an interesting insight to what conservatives think, in a way.

“I have a household and a business that are all female. In my production office, just from the way it turned out, it’s all women! I have a woman boss! I live it, my sisters, my mother. I’m very feminist-oriented, and always have been,” he said while adding that his identity as a “man’s man” is important to him and isn’t under threat because of his feminist tendencies.

Hallelujah! We need more men in the world speaking truth like this! Being a male feminist does not diminish any male identity or any form of masculinity, it simply adds to it by making you more aware of the injustices women face in the world today.

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On the show his character deals with his wife and daughter going through various situations where their gender does become a topic of conversation, and in some cases, a point of contention. His character Mike Baxter’s daughter Eve is battling whether she wants to follow in her dad’s footsteps by being a gun-toting conservative, or whether she wants to follow her own, more independent path.

Conversation quickly turns to current politics where Tim shares his opinions on the presidential candidates on both sides, saying he just wants to know the truth and know that people are going to make their decisions based on honesty, not on tokenism such as Hillary Clinton being a woman.

“We asked women on our staff, ‘Would you vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman?’ And we were shocked that more than 80% said yes. They just want a woman in there. And our question was, ‘Well, what if it was Sarah Palin?’ You got this groan from a liberal group of writers, but the women said, ‘Oh, god … but we just said yes! If she was the only woman: Yes.’ So it doesn’t matter if she’s going to disappoint you down the road: You want a woman in there,” he points out.

Of course we want Hillary in the White House too, but like he said, it is important to think beyond just gender boundaries in order that the best decisions are made in favor of gender equality. We want women to be elected on merit like the men, not be known for getting special favors.

“Look, any one of us, especially those that have daughters: I’d love to see a woman president,” he added, acknowledging the importance of female representation at the highest level in government.

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And finally our feminist subject we’d like to share about is actress and comedian Margaret Cho. She is known for her sharp wit on stage, and an unapologetic views on sexuality, gender and race. In an interview with Vice’s new feminist channel Broadly, she covered a number of different topics including sexuality, body image, and women in comedy. She ties all her experiences into feminism saying some very smart things about how often it is misogynistic principles and systems that allow for certain types of oppression.

“I think comedy is a way to popularize an idea without preaching at people. I think when you’re able to make a joke about something that’s relevant to how you feel, then you have an easier time bringing people over to your way of thinking, than if you’re just telling them to think something,” she said about using comedy as a vehicle to share her message.

She also commented on the whole “women aren’t funny” idea (coined by late author Christoper Hitchens in a Vanity Fair article a few years ago) and said it’s great how women like Amy Schumer and the girls from Broad City are proving everyone wrong.

Margaret goes on to talk about her struggle with drugs and body image, saying having anorexia and bulimia is basically internalized sexism.

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“It’s us trying to punish ourselves for not conforming to this societal ideal. It’s a very difficult time to be a feminist and not just be totally enraged always,” she said.

Feminism today, she believes, is being given a much bigger platform thanks to the internet and social media.

“The idea of women speaking up and telling their truth has become so important because it’s a violent time for women and so feminism has emerged,” she said.

Margaret cites the Riot Grrrl punk feminist movement of the 1990s saying that kind of passion is what feminism needs to have today again.

“To me it was the greatest era of feminism and I really feel it returning. Within it was rock n roll, and now it seems to be with comedy. There’s such eloquent complaint coming from feminist comedians. It really is inspiring and very necessary,” she said.

You can see the full interview with Riot Grrrl movement partaker JD Samson who was in the band Le Tigre with Kathleen Hanna.

All three celebrities share three very different views on feminism and it is what we need to see more of, in order for society to understand, like Margaret Cho said, how necessary it really. Until our next installment of Feminist Conversations, we hope these ideas will keep you talking.


 

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Asia's Biggest All-Female Comedy Podcast Duo Talk Periods, Hecklers, & Being "Unladylike" - GirlTalkHQ

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