Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Can Men In Hollywood Be Feminists?

People often have a preconceived notion that men cannot be feminists because "feminism only benefits women not men." However what these people fail to realize is that a lot of feminists believe in equality for both genders. In the film industry it can be difficult at times to find a man who would fit the definition of being a supporter of women's rights human rights but a few do exist. Probably one of the most profiled, well, in recent months, is Ryan Gosling.

Sure he has good looks (what a dreamboat *sigh*), and charm, but it's clear from interviews and from his actions that Ryan Gosling is a feminist. When his film, Blue Valentine came out last year, it was given a NC-17 rating by the MPPA. Not because Blue Valentine was horribly violent (which it isn't) but because the film dared to portray a women who enjoyed sex. Quelle horreur! There are plenty of films which depict men receiving oral sex from a women which are rated R but the fact that Blue Valentine was rated NC-17 said something about how the film industry views the two genders. God, forbid a women enjoys having sex! Because that would be morally wrong. However, Ryan Gosling refused to let Blue Valentine be slapped with a rating that was sexist and misogynistic. Instead he commented to the press,

"You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a women in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It's misogynistic in nature to try and control a women's sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger then this film."

Clearly, this quote say's it all, Ryan Gosling is one of us. A feminist. In the end, it was Gosling's comments that persuaded the MPAA to change Blue Valentine's ratings from NC-17 to rated-R. And it is quotes like this one that has made him a favorite amongst women and men.

Actor/Writer/Producer Matt Damon, recently narrated part of the documentary Women, War, & Peace which looks at the affect war has on women. War harms everyone, however, women are increasingly more likely to be used as pawns in war through acts of rape and other forms of violence. Because make no mistake about it, rape is used as psychological warfare, as a way to lower moral and humiliate the victim and their family. Yet, this documentary also looks at how women are making peace after the war's end. The women who are featured in Women, War & Peace are making their voice's herd and making changes which will have positive effects on themselves and their communities. It's so inspiring (and I urge everyone to watch this documentary... it's amazing).

So where does Matt Damon fit into all of this? As he puts it,

"Why I wanted to do Women, War & Peace was because I thought it said something really important about the nature of war and the nature of the experience of women. And- as a guy who's raising four girls- that matters to me. It matters to me anyways, but that makes it matter to me more."

I love that Matt Damon recognizes that women and men's stories are equally important. Throughout history women have too often been pushed to the wayside thus their stories are never herd. But it's through documentaries like Women, War, & Peace and people like Matt Damon who push for not only telling women's stories but also improving the lives of women that are making a difference.

I chose to only highlight Ryan Gosling and Matt Damon, two men in Hollywood who are feminists, because I think I'll save a few other men I have in mind for another blog post. I want to give everyone the attention they deserve!

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I would love to hear from you about your feelings on this article or just in general about women in hollywood.