I hope you took deltatheory’s advice yesterday in his quick hit but if you did not, go now! He suggested you watch Ellen Page’s speech at the HRC Time to Thrive event where she came out as a lesbian. Honestly, take 9 minutes to stop playing Candy Crush or Instagramming, and watch this amazing, heartfelt, and authentically honest speech.
Her speech was wonderful and the amount of support from social media was even more so. While there are hundreds of articles focusing on her being an out lesbian, I think it is important to recognize her contributions as a popular celebrity open about her opinions on feminism. It is more than just Ellen coming out– which I by no means cast aside as unimportant because it is– but it is about Ellen continuing to be this unashamed feminist in Hollywood and now a out member of the LGBT community as well, which we need more of.
Ellen Page has always been for me this beacon of feminist hope (with angels singing in the background of course) because she is not afraid to say how she feels about gender stereotypes, norms, and expectations in Hollywood. As she has noted before in interviews, it is hard being a feminist in the film industry these days, with expectations of femininity being forced onto female stars. Even in her Time to Thrive speech she says,
It’s weird because here I am, an actress, representing—at least in some sense—an industry that places crushing standards on all of us. Not just young people, but everyone. Standards of beauty. Of a good life. Of success. Standards that, I hate to admit, have affected me. You have ideas planted in your head, thoughts you never had before, that tell you how you have to act, how you have to dress and who you have to be. I have been trying to push back, to be authentic, to follow my heart, but it can be hard.
She talks about how she is judged for how she dresses, saying in her coming out speech how one magazine wondered why she felt the need to dress like a massive man. She questions these thoughts we inject into gossip magazines and criticisms of celebrities that trickle down into the real world.
There are pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we are all supposed to act, dress, and speak. They serve no one. Anyone who defies these so-called ‘norms’ becomes worthy of comment and scrutiny. The LGBT community knows this all too well.
Its hard being a female in Hollywood environments, let alone a lesbian, but Ellen Page does not let that affect her opinions like other women in Hollywood have. While many celebrity women shy away from calling themselves feminists, Ellen pushes right back saying, “’Why are people so reluctant to say they’re feminists?” She isn’t even afraid to soften her opinions to fit what other people want to hear as she said,
“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.”
She speaks highly of other women in the film industry and even points out that even though “wearing a tiny dress or being scantily clad” isn’t for her, she isn’t knocking down ladies who find it empowering and sexy for themselves.
She is not afraid to make comments about feminist porn, her view on abortion, and most importantly the portrayal of women in Hollywood. Only 23% of speaking roles in Hollywood are for women. Ellen has been speaking out against this for years and even has been working on scripts featuring women and LGBTQ characters to spice up what we see on the movie screens. She says,
“It feels we’ve gone backwards. … But of course, if you just write a script in which the woman has control over her destiny and love isn’t the main thing in the film, that’s seen as super feminist.”
In a time when Warner Bros president of production Jeff Robinov has said “we are no longer doing movies with women in the lead”, we need actresses like Ellen Page to introduce these scripts some may see as “super feminist” in order to show the world- look, feminism is a step toward moving forward and women need equal representation in the film industry. Ellen Page coming out as a lesbian is amazing in an industry where I feel like gay women are not as prominent as gay men, and it only makes me love and respect her more as a feminist and LGBT activist fighting for women’s equality in film.