Reporter's Notebook

What Does Feminism Mean Today?
Show Description +

Atlantic staffers and readers debate the meaning of “feminism” and how it’s changed over the decades. To join in, send us a note: hello@theatlantic.com.

Show 9 Newer Notes

Are You a Feminist? Cont'd

Sophie writes forcefully of the “long list of female celebrities who’ve declined to identify themselves as feminists out of an assumption that the word implies widespread rejection or dislike of men.” She laments, as do I, that many people embrace the ideas of feminism but nevertheless recoil at the label:

Because whatever the history, whatever the nuances, whatever the charged sentiments associated with political activism, being a feminist is very simple: It means believing that women are and should be equal to men in matters political, social, and economic. They should be able to vote. They should have equal protection under the law and equal access to healthcare and education. They should be paid as much as their male counterparts are for doing exactly the same job. Do you believe in these things? Then, you are a feminist.

These seem like the kinds of things that women are likely to support. They also seem like the kinds of things that men are likely to support.

And I’d like to know when men do. It’s a shame that famous men (not only entertainers, but CEOs and politicians too) are so rarely asked whether they are feminists.

The French actress Marion Cotillard recently gave an interview to Porter magazine in which she said, “I don’t qualify myself as a feminist.”

We need to fight for women’s rights, but I don’t want to separate women from men. We’re separated already because we’re not made the same, and it’s the difference that creates this energy in creation and love. Sometimes in the word ‘feminism’ there’s too much separation.

Cotillard joins a long list of female celebrities who’ve declined to identify themselves as feminists out of an assumption that the word implies widespread rejection or dislike of men.

Shailene Woodley: