What Every Man Can Learn From Actor Matt McGorry’s Open Love Letter To Feminism

Matt-McGorry

File this one under “yet another reason to love Matt McGorry and have hope in the future of feminism that includes plenty of male allies.”

Star of ‘Orange Is The New Black’ on Netflix and ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ on ABC has not been understated about his love affair and passion for feminism since discovering it. He has spoken about it in videos, regularly posts thoughts about it on his Twitter account, and has even shared some insightful and personal lessons he has learned on his Instagram.

He has said in previous interviews that his “feminist awakening” happened after reading Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ and felt ashamed that it took him this long to see the many and often subtle ways in Western society that serve to put women at a disadvantage compared to men.

Since then, his openness has been a welcome and much-needed male voice in the conversation today. There are far too many dissenting voices about feminism among women, and certainly among men. For Matt, understanding feminism and why it is important isn’t just like finding another hobby, he describes it as akin to “falling in love” in a recent essay for Cosmopolitan magazine.

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He starts off by citing Emma Watson’s viral He For She speech from September 2014 where she talked about the need for more men to fight for gender equality. Matt says her call to action “If not me, who? If not now, when?” stirred something inside him that he couldn’t shake.

“The moment I heard Watson say [this] I felt a shift inside of me. It was…the rare and instantly recognizable feeling that I would never be the same. I now know that the feeling reminded me of falling in love,” he writes.

“One of the most thrilling and deeply moving experiences in life is the pants-shitting feeling you get when you realize you’ve met someone who will force you to grow in ways you’d never previously imagined possible. You feel like your boundaries are being pushed and your worldview is shifting. It’s terrifying, but it’s also one of the most exhilarating and fulfilling emotional states you can know. This is the internal stirring I had the moment I heard Watson’s words,” he continued.

The reason why this affected him was because he realized staying silent, or worse, neutral, especially in regard to important social and political issues, wasn’t good enough, especially since becoming a public figure.

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It scared me. What kind of resistance would I encounter from fans, haterz, other people in the industry, and even those who supported the same movement but thought that I was going about it wrong or opportunistically? Would I risk ostracizing myself? But the thing was, I didn’t fucking care. It would be easy to say nothing…But, as humans have known for all of their existence, most good things in life require difficulty and courage,” he said.

His way of describing his affinity for feminism akin to falling in love because like finding a life partner, you don’t know about them until they cross your path and when they do and you fall head over heels consumed with them, you can’t go back. With this particular new relationship has come the realization about intersectionality and how it fits into the gender equality fight.

“I’ve become increasingly interested in other social issues, for example, such as Black Lives Matter…Even now, I acknowledge that my own privilege affords me the luxury of this cushy and positive outlook on fighting inequalities and injustices. I have the choice to confront these issues — they aren’t implicit in my life due to my gender, the color of my skin, my sexual preference, or any other parts of who I am as a person,” he said.

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And the final aspect of why we are digging following Matt’s journey with feminism is the way it has helped him redefine what masculinity looks like, which is something that society needs a major overhaul of. Growing up his parents never forced upon him limiting views of what a man is “supposed” to do like never show emotion and not cry.

“My parents never told me to “man up”; if anything, they taught me that expressing vulnerability is braver than putting on a stoic front — the alternative response so highly prized by male culture. I was taught that my insecurities, my fears, and my hurt were best shared with the people around me, rather than locked away in a box built of faux toughness,” he said, while adding there are many other men who unfortunately weren’t raised with the same mindset.

“This is part of the flip side of feminism and gender equality that benefits men as well as women: The notion of men being ‘strong’ and therefore unable to admit to having ‘weaker’ emotions is incredibly damaging. I hurt for all the boys and men who stuff away their feelings because they believe that this is the way to be a man.”

Although he wasn’t raised as a feminist, his parents certainly laid the foundation for many of his beliefs today.

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“My parents never framed what they were teaching me as ‘feminism’. They pushed me to ask the question: ‘How do I become a better and more evolved person?’,” he said.

If you are one of the men like Matt who also grew up with this evolved mindset, we are thankful for you and your parents! If you aren’t, that’s OK because there are role models like Matt McGorry who are actively using their influential public personas to share the important messages.

Aside from the wage gap and black lives matter, Matt recently took part in the White House’s ‘It’s On Us’ campaign talking about the importance of sexual consent, has spoken in favor of the Free The Nipple movement, and took part in a tongue-in-cheek video with .Mic‘s Flip The Script series proving the point that men can be feminists too and not live in fear their masculinity is in danger of disappearing.

The most recent display of his growing relationship with feminism was in the Funny or Die video below where both he and social provocateur Amber Rose discuss slut-shaming as part of her “Slut Walk” mission to break down stigma surrounding women’s sexuality.

“This video is not encouraging women or other genders to be ‘promiscuous,’ it’s encouraging a society where we don’t judge women and call them ‘hoes’ for the same reason that we’d give a guy a pat on the back and call them a ‘pimp’,” reports People magazine.

“Strong women scare weak men. Stay empowered.”

You don’t have to tell us  twice, Matt!

 

 

 

 

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