A Selection of Contemporary Cultural Icons on Feminism

We’ve all heard Rebecca West’s famous 1931 quip: “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” Well, according to the dictionary, it means “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” So we should all be feminists, pretty much. That said, the term does carry some cultural baggage, and is often equated (not by us, mind you) with a certain image of a man-hating, angry female-supremacist. So there’s that.

But since we’re always a little disappointed when female icons disavow the term, considering the definition above, we were fully charmed by Zooey Deschanel’s recent declaration that she is indeed a feminist, Peter Pan collar and all. We were also inspired to take a look at a few of the different reactions the controversial term has gotten from contemporary cultural icons over the past few years. After the jump, a selection of famous women on feminism, their comments ranked from our favorites to our, um, less-favorites. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments.

Louise Brealey, in an interview with The Observer, January 2013:

You describe yourself as a feminist on your Twitter biography. What kind?

“A militant one. Dungarees, moustache, all men are rapists, you know the drill… Seriously, though, I’d like every man who doesn’t call himself a feminist to explain to the women in his life why he doesn’t believe in equality for women. I think Page 3, Nuts and Zoo are bullshit. I don’t wax my pubic hair off. I don’t think working in a titty bar getting fivers shoved up your bum is empowering. And I’m bored of pictures of women in their smalls on buses with fuck-me mouths.”