11 Anti-Feminist Quotes From Otherwise Feminist Celebs Prove That We Can All Learn From Our Mistakes
It's the one question every female celebrity gets asked nowadays: "Are you a feminist?" Some say they are, others say they're not, while many choose to just split the difference by saying they don't like the word "feminist," but they agree with what it stands for. It's a question that comes with a lot of pressure to say the "right" thing. So much pressure in fact, that even the most strident celebrity feminists have said things that come off anti-feminist.
Of course, we shouldn't really fault any of these celebs for their quotes that may come off as bad for women or feminism in general. All of us have said things we probably wish we could take back — and fortunately for most of us, we can, since no one is recording us and planning to share it on the Internet where it will be torn apart. A few celebs — 11 of which I've listed below — are actually great figures for feminism in Hollywood, and they've done amazing things for women in both the industry and the world. They definitely shouldn't be faulted or torn apart for any anti-feminist quotes, as long as they've taken it as an opportunity to grow — and they all have.
Celebs like Kate Winslet and Kaley Cuoco have been quick to admit their quotes were taken out of context, letting fans knows it's all a misunderstanding by amending what they originally said. Lady Gaga and Beyoncé later changed their mind when it came to the topic — as we're all allowed to do. So instead of badmouthing these female celebs for these particular quotes, think of them as reminders that even the most feminist, awesome celebrities can have their slip-ups.
1. Shailene Woodley
"I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance."
This quote from a 2014 Time interview had the outspoken actress talking about why she felt the word "feminist" was a discriminatory term and one she didn't use for herself. But, even if Woodley chooses not to use the word, it doesn't mean she doesn't embrace the idea of equality between the sexes. During this interview, she explained, "I don’t need to call myself a ‘feminist’ or ‘not a feminist’ because I know what my truth is." And the truth is, she's a female role model who spoke in defense of the feminism in Divergent and against Hollywood's limited portrayal of women. If that's not feminist, I don't know what is.
2. Geri Halliwell
“It’s about labeling. For me, feminism is bra-burning lesbianism. It’s very unglamorous. I’d like to see it rebranded. We need to see a celebration of our femininity and softness.”
It's sad to see the former Spice Girl who coined their signature message of "Girl Power!" reducing feminism to something that just isn't glamorous enough for her — especially in a 2007 interview with The Guardian. But this shouldn't negate the fact that the girl group she was a huge part of influenced a whole group of women to put friendship before anything else, and always practice safe sex. She was, and always will be, a huge figure in the feminism movement.
3. Taylor Swift
"I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”
Don't blame Swift for being a little confused about feminism back in this 2012 interview with The Daily Beast, since she's more recently had a feminist awakening thanks to her pal Lena Dunham. Swift told The Guardian in 2014, "As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all." Go, girl.
4. Kelly Clarkson
"I think when people hear feminist, it's like, 'Get out of my way, I don't need anyone.' I love that I'm being taken care of and I have a man that's a leader. I'm not a feminist in that sense."
Clarkson told TIME the word "feminist" was too strong for what she is in 2013 — but two years later clarified this comment, telling the Huffington Post that she feels the word gets a bad wrap, comparing it to how people negatively throw the word "diva" around nowadays. "Obviously I believe in female equal rights," she said. "I'm not an idiot. I'm a female. I believe in equal rights across the board." Perfectly said or perfectly said?
5. Lady Gaga
"I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture — beer, bars, and muscle cars.”
Like many others, Gaga later amended this statement, telling the LA Times in 2009 she was a "little bit feminist." More recently, she's become more outspoken on the topic, telling the U.K.'s The Timesshe's "certainly a feminist" — even providing her own definition of what it means to be one. "A feminist to me is somebody that wishes to protect the integrity of women who are ambitious," she said. "A feminist in my opinion is somebody that regards that women have a strong intelligence and wisdom. That we are just as great as men — and some of us can be even better. I want to fight for the female performer, the female artist, the female musician. This is the type of feminist that I am: that women can be tremendous artists.” Yaaaas Gaga.
6. Katy Perry
"This social revolution of feminism in the ’70s really achieved so many of its goals — not every single one of them, obviously — but I think we should say it’s great that these young women don’t feel like they need to be feminists."
Unfortunately, this sort of sounds like someone trying to repeat what they learned in a Women's Studies course in college, but they weren't paying close enough attention so they missed some key details. Back in 2012, Perry said she wasn't a feminist in her acceptance speech for Billboard's Woman Of The Year, but believed in the "power of women." Since then, Perry thankfully seems to have learned the error of that statement, and she told an Australian morning show in 2014, “I used to not really understand what that word meant, and now that I do, it just means that I love myself as a female and I also love men.”
"I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I'm just a woman and I love being a woman."
It was the "I guess" that rubbed people the wrong way — as if Queen Bey just didn't want to commit to being the biggest pop star in the world and a feminist in this British Vogue interview in 2013. But, she later made her feelings much more public a year later when she posed in front of a projection of the word "Feminist" in big block letters on the 2014 MTV VMAs stage. Badass and progressive. My favorite kind of show.
“[I don't identify as a feminist] because I think it would isolate me. I think it’s important to do positive stuff. It’s more important to be asking than complaining.”
When Bust Magazine asked her this question in 2005, it broke the hearts of many fans. It only got worse when she said, "You could probably call my mother a feminist, and I watched her isolate herself all her life from men, and therefore from society." Since that interview, though, Björk has tended to be very vocal about women in music not getting the respect they deserve. In 2015, she talked to Pitchfork about the sexism that surrounds making music — specifically that its assumed behind every talented female artist there must be a male pulling the strings. She even admitted that she often just fell in line, but wasn't interested in doing that anymore or seeing other women do that. "I definitely can feel the third or fourth feminist wave in the air," she said. "So maybe this is a good time to open that Pandora’s box a little bit and air it out."
9. Kate Winslet
"I haven’t ever felt that I’ve really had to stick up for myself just because I’m a woman.”
With this quote to BBC Newsbeat in reference to the pay inequality in Hollywood — specifically the open letter Jennifer Lawrence wrote about it — Winslet raised a few eyebrows. But, she was quick to tell E! News that her comments in the interview (which also called the wage gap "a bit vulgar") didn't completely explain her stance on equal pay. She later said she didn't like talking about Hollywood salaries but noted that "hopefully these discussions will continue to support the efforts that are being made all over the world for the right to equal pay in this field and all other industries.” Kate Winslet, forever slaying.
10. Kristen Stewart
"There are a lot of women who feel persecuted and go on about it, and I sometimes am like, “Honestly, just relax, because now you’re going in the other direction.” Sometimes, the loudest voice in the room isn’t necessarily the one you should listen to. By our nature alone, think about what you’re saying and say it—but don’t scream in people’s faces, because then you’re discrediting us."
Some took umbrage with this idea that speaking out could be a bad thing. But, it seems Stewart's message may have been lost in translation, since her point was that women should celebrate feminism the way they choose to. They shouldn't feel put off by those who are too aggressive. Her attempt at being laidback was interpreted as apathetic. Believe me though — Stewart is as feminist as they come.
11. Kaley Cuoco
"Things are different now, and I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around… I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that’s because I’ve never really faced inequality."
The Redbook quote also had her saying that she liked making dinner for her then husband, Ryan Sweeting, because it made her feel like a "housewife." "I know it sounds old-fashioned, but I like the idea of women taking care of their men," she said. But, Cuoco later said her words were "taken out of context," writing on Instagram, "I'm completely blessed and grateful that strong women have paved the way for my success along with many others. I apologize if anyone was offended. Anyone that truly knows me, knows my heart and knows what I meant."
If we've learned anything from these quotes it's that what you say and what you mean can sometimes be totally different things, especially when they're put to print. These celebrities have all said and done fabulous things for feminism, so they definitely shouldn't be faulted for any misunderstood, or old anti-feminist quotes.