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Everyone Used the F-Word

From Shailene Woodley to Anita Sarkeesian, everyone is declaring or declining the ”feminist” label

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”Are you a feminist?”

That was the litmus test lobbed at everyone from Shailene Woodley to Kelis, of ”Milkshake” fame, in 2014. (For the record, the answer from both was no.) Men didn’t get a pass. Daniel Radcliffe, Pharrell, and Fifty Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan were all grilled on their Gloria Steinem bona fides this year. Harry Potter declared himself a feminist. The dude in the Arby’s hat said he didn’t think men could be feminists. As for Christian Grey? He bit his lip and flip-flopped. The question was so ubiquitous that Time magazine included feminist on its annual list of words that deserve to be banned: ”When did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them?” the mag asked on Nov. 12. (Editors later apologized for the term’s inclusion.)

But while some waited to be asked, other stars flaunted their credentials. Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston blew up Twitter by posing in ”This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirts. Emma Watson gave a stirring speech about gender equality at the United Nations. Beyoncé reiterated her status as the music industry’s most high-profile women’s advocate by posing on stage at the VMAs before a giant backdrop flashing ”FEMINIST.” And though a few celebs’ definitions might not pass muster with Webster’s — Katy Perry thinks feminism means ”lov[ing] myself as a female and I also love men” — others are helping to make the term’s meaning clearer than ever. ”Do you believe that women should have equal rights to men? And that we should fight for those rights?” media critic Anita Sarkeesian asked Stephen Colbert on his show. When the host answered in the affirmative, she said, ”Great. Then you’re a feminist.”


Declared Feminists:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Lena Dunham
Amy Poehler
Daniel Radcliffe
Beyoncé
Emma Watson
Aziz Ansari

Reformed:
Taylor Swift
Katy Perry

Declined:
Monica Lewinsky
Pharrell
Barbara Walters
Lily Allen
Meghan Trainor