At a time when so many young women in Hollywood are quick to reject the feminist label (Kelly Clarkson, Shailene Woodley, Kirstin Dunst, etc.), Caitlin Stasey is fully embracing it. The young Australian actress, who stars on The CW show Reign, is an open feminist. But she's not just talking about it, she's taking an active role. Caitlin Stasey just launched Herself, a pro-women website featuring powerful ladies speaking out about their lives and their bodies in an honest way.
The website is a collection of nude images, with each woman taking the time to answer deep questions about who she is, what she wants, and how she feels about being a woman. Stasey included herself amongst the nude shots and posted a lengthy interview where she opens up about her sexuality, her body, and her hope for women coming together rather than tearing each other down. She founded Herself "in the hopes of encouraging solidarity — that maybe we as women will take comfort in the triumphs of others rather than reveling in each other’s defeats."
As Maggie Gyllenhaal said during the Golden Globes, women are a lot more complicated than people seem to want to understand. Along these lines, Stasey isn't interested in showing a squeaky-clean version of the female form. Already her website features a wide variety of women of all shapes and races. It's exactly the kind of feminist site I've always wanted: one that acknowledges equality is every woman's fight — not just the pretty ones, not just the uber activist ones, not just the ones assigned the female gender at birth.
Stasey is wonderfully informed and makes sure the LGBTQIA community feels comfortable on her website. When speaking about her insecurities about her own vagina she emphasizes "not that vaginas are intrinsically female, it’s just happened to be a big part of womanhood for me personally." When discussing her hopes for the future of sex education in school she mentioned the importance of including all sexualities.
I think sexual education needs to morph into something far more comprehensive & less transphobic. We need to discuss things like stretch marks, acne, gender identity, gender fluidity, safe sex between same sex couples, sensitivity & empathy towards LGBTQIA students & masturbation.
Stasey is speaking from experience on that topic because she suffered a childhood of confusion when she knew she was attracted to girls but had no role models in her life with which to look up to. "There was no one in my life who also expressed these desires, no one in the entertainment I consumed, the books I would read, the company I kept," she revealed. "A lack of monumental events shaped my sexuality, masturbating in secret, telling no one, saying nothing, concealing all sexual queries or thoughts. It’s the single reason I’m so adamant that LGBTQIA characters be involved in children’s entertainment."
She speaks eloquently about her struggle as a woman and her desire to have the female gender support one another. "Women: Love each other, support each other, defend each other. It comes at a greater cost to you to attack the women around you than it does to empower them," she says in her interview. I completely agree because it's hard enough out there as it is without also having the rest of your gender against you.
But not only is Stasey's journey worth reading, the other profiles on Herself are equally eye-opening and interesting. One interviewee named Demi talked about the very real difficulty of self-love. "My whole life could have been different if someone told me years ago, 'In order to be loved, you must love yourself,'" she told Herself.
Casey, another Herself subject, is a porn star who spoke candidly about her views on the industry intersecting with feminism.
There are many people out there who think that feminism and porn are total opposites. To me, they go hand in hand. Managing my brand, being creative, sharing my sexuality with the world — these things are empowering to me. No one ever forces me to do anything I don’t want to do.
As of now the website highlights eight other engaging women, but Stasey wants to include even more. She encourages everyone to participate in the project making this one of the most diverse and inclusive celebrity websites I've ever seen.
There are so many great quotes on Herself said by a myriad of women that I can't begin to relay them all here. I advise taking a chunk of today and dedicating it to browsing the site because it's kind of like seeing yourself up there. I saw my views and thoughts and fears reflected in Stasey's interview and in the words of the other Herself women, and it was pretty inspiring. When Stasey was asked, "Where do you feel unsafe as a woman?" and she answered, "It may seem dramatic, but everywhere," I felt relieved that I wasn't the only one.
Not every voice in Hollywood is worth listening to, but Caitlin Stasey's definitely is — and I'm excited to see what she does with her voice and her website in the future.