Joseph Gordon-Levitt: "I'd absolutely call myself a feminist"

In a positive twist on the celebrities-rejecting-feminism trend, the actor beautifully defines the "f-word"

Published August 14, 2014 7:55PM (EDT)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt  (AP/Victoria Will)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (AP/Victoria Will)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt does not understand why people -- especially celebrities -- refuse to call themselves feminists. The actor has already claimed the label publicly, telling Ellen DeGeneres that he's a "feminist, absolutely" when he visited her show in January. But, as Gordon-Levitt seems to know, it's always helpful to reassert why one claims the feminist label instead of simply touting it. In a recent interview with the Daily Beast, the star elaborated on his definition of feminism, which is, for lack of a better word, great:

I read that you consider yourself a “male feminist,” and you credit your parents who are educators and really taught you about the history of feminism. But nowadays, you have a lot of young stars coming out against being labeled a feminist.

Coming out against the label? Wow. I guess I’m not aware of that. What [feminism] means to me is that you don’t let your gender define who you are—you can be who you want to be, whether you’re a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, whatever. However you want to define yourself, you can do that and should be able to do that, and no category ever really describes a person because every person is unique. That, to me, is what “feminism” means. So yes, I’d absolutely call myself a feminist. And if you look at history, women are an oppressed category of people. There’s a long, long history of women suffering abuse, injustice, and not having the same opportunities as men, and I think that’s been very detrimental to the human race as a whole. I’m a believer that if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it’s better for everyone. It benefits society as a whole.

Yep, pretty much. Feminism means different things to different people, but as Gordon-Levitt notes, it doesn't discriminate. Fundamentally, the movement is about making life better for everyone. And the label itself doesn't discriminate either: A feminist is a feminist is a feminist, regardless of gender. Men can (obviously) be feminists, but what's more, they should be -- for the same reason Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a feminist. Because oppression isn't just bad for women; it's bad for the whole of humanity.

By Jenny Kutner

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