These Famous Women Aren't Afraid to Drop That Other F-Bomb
What exactly does a modern-day, self-described feminist look like? An award-winning, media-dominating actor, or a chart-topping pop star who's unafraid to speak up. In other words, Amandla Stenberg, who spoke about intersectional feminism in a powerful interview with Teen Vogue, and Taylor Swift, who remains outspoken about promoting gender equality in the music industry. And these famous feminists have some company, so read through for quotes from celebrity women who are proud feminists.
— Additional reporting by Brea Cubit
Beyoncé told Elle why she hires women for her projects:
"It's always been important to me to hire women. I believe in giving a voice to people who are not always heard. One of the first presidents of my company was a woman. My current GM, head of production, head of PR, and other leaders are women. I hire women not to be token voices in the company but to lead. I believe women are more balanced and think with compassion in deciding what's best for the business. They see the big picture absent of personal agendas. Most women are loyal and commit with 100 percent follow-through."
In celebration of International Women's Day in 2020, Meghan visited a school in England and spoke to students:
"Women who had the strength to really stand up for something that they knew needed to be done is the best example of no matter how small you might feel, how low you may feel on the ladder or the totem pole, no matter what color you are, no matter what gender you are, you have a voice and you certainly have the right to speak up for what is right."
Speaking to The Cut, Rowan talked about the wide scope of feminism:
"My first definition of feminism was so small: Men and women should be equal. And maybe that's how you have to learn it, so that it can be more accessible. But then I started discovering Audre Lorde and Angela Davis and all of these intricacies of feminism that were not being presented to me by these white feminist 'icons.' It was only then that I realized how deep it is and how it's more about undoing these walls that we have built around marginalized people — it's not just about women and men. It's . . . undoing patriarchal structures against marginalized people — structures that fight against people of color, that fight against women, that fight against disabled people, that fight against LGBTQ."
Amandla shared how their idea of intersectional feminism has evolved in an interview with Teen Vogue:
"I never did not identify as a feminist, but I didn't know where I belonged because I didn't see myself represented. As I started to explore my gender identity, I didn't know how I could claim the title of feminist without subscribing to the gender binary. I thought I had to be a proud woman to be a feminist. Then I came to the realization that I can be proud of women without necessarily identifying as one. A lot of people are rejecting the binary — that's the future of feminism."
While accepting the #SeeHer Award at the 2020 Critics' Choice ceremony, Kristen described what being a woman means to her:
"If I'm being honest, being a woman is not about being brave or being strong or being powerful, it's not about being anything specific, it is just about giving yourself permission to be the things that you already are, which seems very easy, but it is not because women have been conditioned to fit into boxes, usually tiny, pretty, sparkly boxes with bows on them. To me, the idea of womanhood is someone who sheds the perfect little box and owns their complexity, and I've been really lucky to be able to play some really complex women."
At the 2017 Women's March in Los Angeles, Kerry urged women to keep breaking barriers, no matter what:
"Six months from now, a year from now, if you feel like, 'Wow, there is an agenda at work to make me feel like I don't matter, because I'm a woman my voice doesn't matter, because I'm a person of color my voice doesn't matter, because I'm an immigrant, because I'm a person of the LGBTQ community, because I'm an old person, because I'm a young person, because I have a f-cking voice, I don't matter.' You matter!"
Accepting Billboard's Woman of the Decade award in 2019, Taylor shared how she's battled sexism in the music industry:
"I saw that people love to explain away a woman's success in the music industry, and I saw something in me change due to this realization. This was the decade when I became a mirror for my detractors. Whatever they said I couldn't do is exactly what I did ... Basically, if people had something to say about me, I usually said something back in my own way."
In Harper's Bazaar, Laverne spotlighted the inclusion of trans women in the modern-day feminist movement:
"I think about [The Vagina Monologues' author] Eve Ensler a lot, particularly when I think about the inclusion of trans women in feminist movements, which has been a really tricky contested space, probably since the '70s, when some trans-exclusionary radical feminists were like 'trans women are not really women' — assertions that we don't belong in this movement. And then the LGBT movement was saying the same thing about trans women. What feels different to me about this moment is now there's more acknowledgment that we are in this together, that being an intersectional feminist means that we have to embrace women of all kinds, of all races, nationalities, abilities, gender identities, and that feels super exciting."
In 2018, Ariana tweeted her support for women who embrace their sexuality and their strength:
"I use my talent AND my sexuality all the time because I choose to. Women can be sexual AND talented. Naked and dignified. It's OUR choice. 🖤 & we will keep fighting til people understand."
Alicia dropped some words of wisdom regarding the power of women during a chat with Variety:
"Being a woman, being a girl, is the most awesome thing to be. I personally feel we are the more evolved species. We are the greatest creators on the planet, like, the planet literally would not exist if we weren't in it. We're the entire universe."
Jennifer addressed gender-based pay disparity and salary negotiations in a 2015 letter:
"I'm over trying to find the 'adorable' way to state my opinion and still be likable! I don't think I've ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It's just heard."
Amy told Time Out New York why she considers herself a feminist:
"The answer is yes, I consider myself a feminist, and it informs my work only in that it's just who I am, in the same way that I'm a woman, or I'm 5'2" or whatever. I was lucky that I came through a system that had many people who did much more hard work and road-clearing before I got there."
Zendaya encouraged women to use their voices to support each other in an interview with Elle:
"Women are so powerful. We're such amazing people and creations, and I think that we're so much more powerful together as well when we look out for each other, when we uplift each other, when we protect each other. And that means all types of women . . . I think that it's important that we right now especially not be afraid or feared into silence because we need each other, and we need each other's voice now more than ever. Now is the best time I think to speak up, especially for our fellow women who may not have a voice or whose voice may be a little more silenced. It's time to also use our platforms for each other."
Mindy spoke about being a "feminine feminist" at the 2016 Watermark Conference For Women:
"A lot of people sometimes think that you can't be interested in things like fashion or things that are traditionally feminine and also be a strong woman because that means you are doing that for a man. I wish that we didn't inextricably link being interested in those things and being a strong woman."
Miley told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat that she feels like society has a double standard:
"I feel like I'm one of the biggest feminists in the world, because I tell women to not be scared of anything."
At the 2015 BlogHer conference, Ava discussed the "culture of permission" women and people of color have historically experienced:
"Women have been trained in our culture and society to ask for what we want instead of taking what we want. We've been really indoctrinated with this culture of permission. I think it's true for women, and I think it's true for people of color. It's historic, and it's unfortunate and has somehow become part of our DNA. But that time has passed."
Speaking to Vogue Australia, Angelina shared her thoughts on feminism and what it means to be equal:
"Equality is not about us all being the same. It is about the freedom to make our own choices and live our own lives fully, not at the expense of men, but alongside men. It is not about taking each other down but building each other up. I think it is not said enough how much we need the men in our lives to be strong and capable and the best they can be."
At the 2018 Golden Globes Awards, Oprah delivered a galvanizing speech about giving women hope for a brighter future:
"I've interviewed and portrayed people who've withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights. So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, 'Me, too' again."
Gina talked to Good Morning America about attending the 2017 Women's March:
"I am there with the incredible women who have made me who I am . . . And I will make sure that all the young girls know that and don't have to be reminded by a march of how powerful women are."
In 2017, Reese told ITV that she cofounded her production company, Pacific Standard, to give women better roles:
"It really came from reading all these bad scripts. I was talking to my girlfriends who are actresses, and we were like, 'There's nothing out there, they're really not making anything for us. So I thought, well then I'll start a company, self-funded, and I'll start developing roles for women. I'm really proud."
Chatting with People, Eva spoke about the meaning of feminism and her plans to teach her son, Santiago, about it:
"It means equality. That's it. So it's not a lot of degrees of equality. It is what it is. So for me to be able to teach him women are equal to men is going to be a big lesson. But it's not only about teaching him, it's about showing him."
In her book Bossypants, Tina argues that her Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler's Hillary Clinton on SNL proved feminism can be subtle and funny:
"The sketch could have been a dumb catfight between two female candidates. What Seth and Amy wrote, however, was two women speaking out together against sexism in the campaign. In real life, these women experienced different sides of the same sexism coin. People attempted to marginalize these women based on their gender. Amy's line 'Although it is never sexist to question female politicians' credentials' was basically the thesis statement for everything we did over the next six weeks — not that anyone noticed. You all watched a sketch about feminism and you didn't even realize it because of all the jokes. It's like when Jessica Seinfeld puts spinach in kids' brownies. Suckers!"
In 2018, Charlize shared her thoughts on feminism while discussing social issues at a gathering held in honor of Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday:
"I'm proud to say that I am a f*cking feminist. I remember always saying being a feminist meant a different thing to everybody. And I would apologize for it. And I had to ask, why was that? Why couldn't I just say, 'Yes, I'm a feminist?'"
Shonda told Variety she's always considered herself a feminist:
"I think that given the fact that a feminist is a woman who believes that men and women should be treated equally, I think I've probably been a feminist since the day I was born. That's not really a consideration in the household I was raised in."
Jessica told Elle it's important for women to support women:
"We're living in a time where stereotypes are being thrown out of the window. I've always been someone who's spoken up for gender equality, for eliminating the gender pay gap and for the importance of women in leadership and positions of power, so for me, it's about time. For my entire life I've always experienced women taking care of each other and for some reason the media was feeding us a different story, putting out a false perception that women don't work well together, that we're competitive with each other, and I've never found that to be true. In fact, quite the opposite. It's important to celebrate that and actually be living in a time when women are pushing against this lie that's been shoved down our throats for so long. I'm really excited that we're now celebrating what femininity is and how powerful it can be."
Ellen told The Guardian that she's OK with feminism seeming radical:
"I think if you're not from America you read this stuff and you're like, 'What?' But I don't know why people are so reluctant to say they're feminists. Maybe some women just don't care. 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. A lot of what the radical feminists [in the 1970s] were saying, I don't disagree with it."
Keira told Vogue that she believes feminism is about women having choices:
"I remember doing interviews, and people would ask, as if it was a joke, 'So you mean you are a feminist?' As though feminism couldn't be discussed unless we were making fun of it. I don't want to deny my femininity. But would I want to be a stay-at-home mother? No. On the other hand, you should be allowed to do that, as should men, without being sneered at."
Zooey told Glamour how she defends herself against critics of her girlie persona:
"I'm just being myself. There is not an ounce of me that believes any of that crap that they say. We can't be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a f*cking feminist and wear a f*cking Peter Pan collar. So f*cking what?"
As the UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma gave a speech on gender equality at the United Nations in September 2014 to kick off the #HeForShe campaign:
"I was appointed six months ago, and the more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.'"
Elisabeth told The Guardian that her character on The Handmaid's Tale tells a feminist story:
"Feminism is equal rights for men and women. Men and women are both humans, so, for me, that makes my characters and the work that I do human stories. I play a f*cking sexual slave, I play a breeder, a host, a woman for whom all of her rights, and all of her family and friends, have been taken away. She has nothing. So, yes, it is a feminist story."
In 2012, Ashley responded to criticisms about her appearance:
"Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it."
In 2006, Jane told Feminist that she believes feminism is good for everyone:
"Essentially feminism will come into wholeness when we achieve a social paradigm that allows men and women to become full human beings. Rather than women muting themselves and men hardening themselves, which I think is the root of all the problems — including war."