Kate Crudgington

In Praise of Ellen Page – feminist, film star and all round icon

A male friend of mine recently recommended that I read the Guardian’s interview with actress Ellen Page, star of films Hard Candy and Juno. In the interview, rather than discussing her new film The East, she openly discusses her commitment to Feminism. This is why she is one of my modern day heroes. Although many female celebrities like Beyoncé and Lady GaGa consider themselves ‘modern-day feminists’ they still seem reluctant to explicitly declare themselves as ardent feminists. Perhaps they are concerned this will alter their image and therefore their fan base. Ellen Page, however, is delighted to discuss her open belief in the movement. She declares: ‘“I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Maybe some women just don’t care. But how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?”’ She’s absolutely right. Women shouldn’t be afraid to identify with feminism, even if they are in the media spotlight. There’s nothing wrong with being feminine and a feminist, you do not have to separate yourself in two in order to be an active believer in the cause. Page even comments on the overt sexism she has encountered in Hollywood: ‘”There are moments when you are, um, encouraged to dress a certain way. But I can’t. It just erodes my soul,” she says with a nervous laugh. “That’s no criticism to girls who can wear a tiny dress and kill it – that’s awesome. People always attribute being a feminist to hating girls being sexual, and that’s not it at all. I’m just not into it.”’ Ellen Page Beyoncé and GaGa are renowned for wearing ‘tiny dresses’ and as Page puts it absolutely ‘killing it’ in the best way possible, so they shouldn’t feel the need to keep their feminist beliefs on the back burner, they should embrace their femininity and use it to front the movement. I’m not trying to slate either performer, I am a fan of both and think they are excellent examples of strong, independent women. Beyoncé is fronting the Chime For Change movement and GaGa is an active Gay Rights campaigner. I just wish they would further attribute their assets to feminism, a movement that is clearly struggling with its public image. Another issue Page addresses in the interview is the lack of female authors taught to secondary school students. She ‘expresses outrage’ that schools ‘teach hardly any female authors other than Jane Austen’. She asks where are ‘the Brontes? Toni Morrison?’, why are they not featured in the curriculum? I can directly relate to what Page has said here. In my school history lessons, I learnt the history of men, not the history of women. I appreciate that this may be because women were denied the right to participate in war/politics/life until relatively recently. However, important revolutionary groups like The Suffragettes were completely ignored; no-one mentioned Emmeline Pankhurst or Emily Wilding Davison. There were brief discussions of women in the monarchy, e.g. Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, but there were no in-depth studies. In English, I was taught the great male writers: William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, Wilfred Owen. There was some emphasis on female writers when we studied Victorian poetry in GCSE, but it was not until late in my A Levels when studying Angela Carter and Female War poets that I remember there being any real focus on gender in writing. I had to find out about Virginia Woolf, The Bronte sisters, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Carson McCullers all on my own. However, I will praise my A Level Media course. Representation of Women in film/news/television was one of the key focuses of the course and it caused a lot of interesting debate in our small class of six. I enjoyed much of my secondary school education, and I am not trying to distract anyone (including myself) from the greatness of the male authors I have mentioned, I just think it would be better to introduce more female authors in to the curriculum, as their contributions are equally as valuable. What I’m trying to outline is teaching girls and boys subjects that are not even remotely gender balanced only makes it harder to apply gender equality in to every day life. I think this is one of the many reasons why feminism remains important to me and to the excellent Ellen Page. Read the full article here, she’s fantastic.

3 thoughts on “In Praise of Ellen Page – feminist, film star and all round icon

  1. Feminism is a word that I find similar to Communism; people hear it and automatically think “That must be bad” because of the amount of years these things have been considered a bad thing by those in power (obviously wanting to keep said power)

    I did however learn the Suffragettes in school; did it quite a bit however feminist history has opened up with the introduction of peoples history. More needs to be said about this too. How the ordinary folk have lived; the oft ignored segments of society.

    More female authors are needed however even in school we read the authors Amy Tan, Nadine Gormer and many more due to OCR exams in English. I believe that it is the way things are taught rather than what is taught that feminism does not have the role it deserves to have in society.

  2. Pingback: Ellen Page Tells Hollywood It’s Not Brave to Play Gay | MeawsMeaws

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