I'm a feminist and a high school English teacher in the south suburbs of Chicago. Last year, one of the students in my class was inspired to start a group for girls at our school and approached me about sponsoring it. Of course I agreed! A few weeks ago, we tackled the topic of positive female role models in pop culture. The high school students came up with a list of eight current, mainstream "feminist idols" they and their friends look up to.
The list is a good insight into what interests teen girls these days, as well as hopefully a helpful resource. We talk a lot about degrading and regrettable portrayals of women in media, here are eight actresses and comedians my high schoolers are excited about supporting.
1. Emma Stone: My students loved the movie Easy A, a modern film inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. In it, Emma Stone plays a high school student who tries to bring the book into her real life. The movie definitely has feminist undertones, but Stone herself is a major feminist. In a recent interview she did with her boyfriend Andrew Garfield, she was asked who her style icon was. After Garfield said he never got asked questions like that, Stone piped up, "You get asked interesting, poignant questions because you're a boy... It is sexism." Way to call out sexist media, Emma Stone!
This weekend saw the long-anticipated premiere of The Wanda Sykes Show, which airs Saturday nights on Fox. (That's right, this is my second post in a row regarding an out [and outstanding] lesbian performer on the Fox network.) Wanda Sykes made a strong debut with her usual style of laid-back indignation and smart-assed digs. It's no surprise that she's great in a talk-show format. What is surprising is how much she gets away with. Sykes did a sketch about eco-friendly sex toys. She spoke up for gay marriage. She ripped on Fox News. Wait, what network are we watching again?
As if Wanda Sykes could give a two shits about the "rules" to which he refers--rules which presumably don't apply to people who look like Rush Limbaugh, but do apply to people who look like Wanda Sykes. For more from the "We Can Dish It, But We Can't Take It" files, read on...