10 Supercool Feminist Men
A while back, after the site had covered more than a few negative news items involving attitudes toward women, Pajiba regular Maguita NYC suggested something in a positive vein: a list of feminist men—who use their respective celebrity to support or speak out on behalf of women. With all the ongoing causes and support organizations, you might not realize what it means for men to be passionate about women’s equality; I can tell you that it gives us more courage to speak out for ourselves, it warms our insides, makes us feel stronger and it fills our hearts. So check out these supercool men, and if you know another, give him a shout-out in the comments.
1. Patrick Stewart
After growing up in an abusive household where he witnessed “terrible things,” Stewart realized—even as a young boy—that women under duress had nowhere to go for help. “…there were those who condoned the abuse. I heard police or ambulancemen, standing in our house, say, “She must have provoked him,” or, “Mrs. Stewart, it takes two to make a fight.” They had no idea. The truth is my mother did nothing to deserve the violence she endured. She did not provoke my father, and even if she had, violence is an unacceptable way of dealing with conflict. Violence is a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it.” As an adult, Stewart became a patron of the national domestic violence charity, Refuge, which operates a 24-hour emergency helpline, and provides shelter, protection and legal help for women and children victims of domestic violence. He continues to speak out publicly, on behalf of Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign.
2. Mark Ruffalo
As the debate over women’s right to choose rages on and abortion clinics around the country continue to be closed, Mark Ruffalo picked the right time to step forward and make a powerful statement; he sent a letter of support to be read at a rally outside Mississippi’s last remaining clinic. And he didn’t just spew out some generic statement, rather he made it personal, speaking about his own mother’s terrible and dangerous illegal abortion experience. “…I have a mother who was forced to illegally have an abortion in her state where abortion was illegal when she was a very young woman. It cost $600 cash. It was a traumatizing thing for her. It was shameful and sleazy and demeaning. When I heard the story I was aghast by the lowliness of a society that would make a woman do that. I could not understand its lack of humanity; today is no different. What happened to my mother was a relic of an America that was not free nor equal nor very kind. My mother’s illegal abortion marked a time in America that we have worked long and hard to leave behind. It was a time when women were seen as second rate citizens who were not smart enough, nor responsible enough, nor capable enough to make decisions about their lives. It was a time that deserved to be left behind, and leave it behind we did, or so it seemed. We made abortion and a woman’s ability to be her own master a Right. That Right was codified into law. That law was the law of the land for decades. My own mother fought to make herself more than a possession; she lived her life as a mother who chose when she would have children, and a wife who could earn a living if she so chose. I want my daughters to enjoy that same choice. I don’t want to turn back the hands of time to when women shuttled across state lines in the thick of night to resolve an unwanted pregnancy, in a cheap hotel room just south of the state line. Where a transaction of $600 cash becomes the worth of a young woman’s life.” (Full text)
3. Eddie Vedder
Having played the Rock for Choice concert series with Pearl Jam, Vedder has been a consistent supporter of women’s right to choose. In a 1992 op-ed for Spin Magazine, he wrote: “…combat lines are drawn at clinics, and women must be escorted through trenches, which only adds to their trauma. This is not a game. This is not a religious pep rally. This is a woman’s future. Roe vs. Wade was decided 19 years ago and the fact that a well-organized group has come close to overturning it is raw proof that we do live in a democracy. But also the reason that any opposition must be equally as vocal. You go to school in Normal, Illinois? Collegetown, U.S.A.? Shout it out. There are people wary of the strength that young voters possess. Prove them right. Decide on the issues and vote — male or female — for this is not just a women’s issue. It’s human rights. If it were a man’s body and it was his destiny we were deciding there would be no issue. Not in today’s male dominated society.” (Full text)
4. David Schwimmer
Son of a feminist, who knew? Our old friend is Director of The Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica. After working with the organization by appearing in television spots aimed at educating men (“The idea is to make guys see that it is OK to flirt, to party … but not OK to be silent, to be passive, to witness a drugging of drink or a rape and not intercede.”), Schwimmer met and was inspired by the woman (Gail Abarbanel) who ran the the Center. “I think [it was] for personal reasons and because I feel like the issue of rape, especially when it’s a crime against a child, just affects me greater than a lot of other issues. For personal reasons, I had a long-term ex girlfriend of mine who had been a victim of child sexual abuse and then also date rape. And I don’t know, I just thought it was an area that I really wanted to get involved with, [to] try to bring more awareness to men about the issue. I’m just proud to be supporting the organization.” Schwimmer also directed 2010’s Trust, inspired by the experiences of some of the victims he’s met during his years working at the Centre. Additionally, he has campaigned for legislation to ban the so-called “date rape drugs,” like Rohypnol and GHB.
5. Ryan Gosling
The hullaballoo surrounding the MPAA rating of Blue Valentine (initially rated NC-17 because of a cunnilingus scene) caused Gosling to eloquently expound on the industry’s double standard. “There’s plenty of oral sex scenes in a lot of movies, where it’s a man receiving it from a woman—and they’re R-rated. Ours is reversed and somehow it’s perceived as pornographic.” (And in a separate statement, before the rating appeal): “You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.”
“The MPAA’s decision on Blue Valentine unmasks a taboo in our culture, that an honest portrayal of a relationship is more threatening than a sensationalized one,” says Williams. “Mainstream films often depict sex and violence in a manner that is disturbing and very far from reality. Yet, the MPAA regularly awards these films with a more audience friendly rating, enabling our culture’s desensitization to violence, rape, torture and brutality. Our film does not depict any of these attributes. It’s simply a candid look at the difficulties couples face in sustaining their relationships over time. Blue Valentine opens a door for couples to have a dialogue about the everyday realities of many relationships. This film was made in the spirit of love, honesty and intimacy. I hope that the MPAA will hear our pleas and reconsider their decision.”
6. Daniel Craig
Proving much can be said without a single word…
7. Ian Somerhalder
Somerhalder joined the UK Women’s Aid national “Real Man” campaign to send out the message that “‘Real Men’ do not abuse and control women - physically, emotionally, sexually or financially.” Celebrities signed shirts that were auctioned off for the charity which supports agencies providing assistance to victims of domestic and sexual violence. Somerhalder took part in the campaign “because it’s so easy to forget the many women who live their lives in fear because of domestic violence. Men have an important role to play in sending out the message that real men do not hurt or abuse their partners.”
8. Alan Alda
Lifetime feminist Alda has been dubbed an Honorary Woman by both The Boston Globe and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (which also gave Alda “The Tootsie Award” and inducted him into “The Tootsie Hall of Fame”), for his continuing work on behalf of women. Alda campaigned tirelessly for the Equal Rights Amendment, serving with Betty Ford as co-chair. On being a feminist: “Why isn’t everyone else a feminist, too?” On why he stood up for the ERA: “I do it because I care so much about it…I see myself as a fellow citizen who has a responsibility—because of my access to the media by being a celebrity—to be cogent, fair accurate and well-informed, and I try to be all of these.” “There is so much big money used in opposition to the ERA in the US, the absence of which leaves a gaping hole in the Constitution. It means 53 percent of the population are not represented in the Constitution, and therefore I don’t think it’s a democracy. “
9. Dustin Rowles
If I really get going on the bossman, I’m going to get emotional, and then you’re probably going to throw-up…but fuck it. All my life, all I ever wanted to do is write. I still have the usual journals and poetry from teenagerdom—including notes from my favorite high school English teacher—stowed away with random published snippets from this newspaper or that. But Dustin, he’s the man who gave me—and Joanna and Courtney and Jodi and Genny—a real chance to do what we love. He plucked us out of relative obscurity to say the things we want to say; to talk about our families or books or movies, to express our anger over something as simple as what a celebrity wore, or as complicated as rape—whatever we want to express, he supports us and gives us heartfelt advice. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he gives women a voice. On top of that, Dustin simply delights in calling out misogynistic assholery; he’s not one to let anybody get away with putting down a woman’s physical appearance, nor to neglect calling out the industry’s double standards. He’s the coolest feminist I know.
10. A Transformed Feminist: VarmitCoyote
The young man in the clip above went on a long internet rant not long ago at the MRA regarding female superiority, and ended-up actually agreeing with them. The clip was taken down by Varmit himself, and instead posted a surprising one. It starts with the mandatory “Fuck feminism, fuck female superiority” but less than a few seconds in the language changes: “…Or I might say that like most the internet, I did not know anything about feminism, got all my information about it from anti-feminists, or felt perfectly obliged to judge the entire movement based on my personal experience. You know, now that I’ve gone out of my way to read up on feminism and educate myself a bit, interesting that I couldn’t possibly not be one! Effectively to be a feminist, is to be a non-sexist. Because you are in favor of equal rights for women.” “This video is a retraction of every previous thing I’ve said about feminism because I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. So feel free to inspire the next retraction for how fucking wrong I was. I promise you that so long the preponderance of evidence is in your favor, then you’ll win out! Of course, you actually understand the scientific method, and what actually evidence is, instead of some anecdotal bullshit about how well Oh feminists, and the blah my experience, and I’m a fucking dumbass, like most of the internet. Because we like to have our opinions, we love to express them, and too few of us are willing to question what we think is right. And actually change those opinions. So, change mine. Otherwise, I’m going to actually fight for Women’s Rights, since you know, they’re kind of under attack. A lot.” You don’t need to be a Hollywood star to defend women’s rights. You don’t need to earn millions and have some clout in making your voice heard to defend equal rights. And like this young man, all you need is to read up on feminism and educate yourself. That’s all it takes. (Maguita NYC)
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