15 Famous Women on What Feminism Means to Them

Thoughts on the other ‘F’ word from Lena Dunham, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Shailene Woodley, Halle Berry and more

“Are you a feminist?” might be the toughest question a female celebrity has to answer in 2014. Taylor Swift stays clear of the word. Lena Dunham embraces it and Beyonce grew into it. Let’s just say it’s complicated. Come on too strong and a young actress can risk alienating a fan base that isn’t steeped in day-to-day gender issues. Avoid the question and they incur the wrath of the Internet and feminists everywhere. Here’s a look at what some famous women have said about the other “f” word.

  • Beyoncé

    Beyonce Attends Met Gala
    Beyonce attends a Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in New York on May 5. Dimitrios Kambouris—Getty Images

    Beyoncé was hesitant to describe herself as a feminist to British Vogue in April 2013. “That word can be very extreme,” the 32-year-old said. “But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.”

    But the singer seems to have come around. Her self-titled December 2013 album features a number of feminist ideas. Her song “Flawless” sandwiches an excerpt from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk, “We should all be feminists,” in between lyrics like “I took some time to live my life, but don’t think I’m just his little wife.”

    After the album’s release Beyoncé even wrote a post for the Shriver Report called, “Gender Equality is a Myth!” in January. “We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet,” she wrote.

  • Lana Del Ray

    Lana Del Ray Cinema Against AIDS Event
    Lana Del Rey performs during amfAR’s 21st Cinema Against AIDS Gala on May 22 in France. Kevin Tachman/amfAR14—WireImage

    Del Ray went into left field recently when Fader magazine asked her if she was a feminist. “For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept,” the 27-year-old singer said. “I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested…My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants.”

  • Halle Berry

    Halle Berry "Extant"
    Halle Berry attends the premiere of “Extant” on June 16 in Los Angeles. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty

    “I would say on some levels I am [a feminist]. Angela Davis is one of my heroes,” the 47-year-old Oscar winner told Ebony in April, referring to the political activist known for her feminist views. “And Gloria Steinem—these are people who, as I was growing, I was moved by and impacted by and thought very deeply about.”

  • Ellen Page

    Ellen Page X-Men Premiere
    Ellen Page attends the “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” world premiere on May 10 in New York City. Gilbert Carrasquillo—FilmMagic

    “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?” the 27-year-old Juno and X-Men star said in a 2013 interview with The Guardian.

  • Rashida Jones

    Rashida Jones Upfront
    Rashida Jones attends the 2014 TNT/TBS Upfront on May 14 in New York City. Paul Zimmerman—WireImage

    “I would [call myself a feminist], yes.” the 38-year-old Parks & Rec star told Amanda de Cadenet in 2013. “I believe in the unadulterated advancement of women. And we have so far to go still. I do think because women are so clever and flexible and such good communicators, it been hard for men to evolve and keep up. I think we could do a little better to help them out.”



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