What Evangeline Lilly Almost Got Right About Feminism In Film

evangeline-lilly

Brace yourselves ladies and gents, here comes another one. And by that we mean another Hollywood actress who has publicly said something to misrepresent what feminism means.

Evangeline Lilly, best known for her breakout role as Kate in the hit series ‘Lost’ has more recently been seen in ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy, playing the elf Tauriel. In a recent Comic Con panel titled ‘Women who Kick Ass‘, the actress made it clear that being a kick ass and strong woman doesn’t have to mean the extreme of being a damsel in distress. Being a strong female character means balancing the emotional, softer side of your personality with the outward displays of strength. Basically a flawed and complex character is what she is aiming for, and we’re all for that!

However, in an interview with Huffington Post about ‘The Hobbit’ and her upcoming role in ‘Ant Man’, she shows that she has kinda misunderstood the point of feminism. People seem to forget that the basic definition means the social, political and economic equality of both genders. And beyond that, in the world of film at least, it means allowing women to be represented on a diverse scale that men are, not to take over.

Here’s what Evangeline said about feminism:

“I’m very proud of being a woman, and as a woman, I don’t even like the word feminism because when I hear that word, I associate it with women trying to pretend to be men, and I’m not interested in trying to pretend to be a man. I don’t want to embrace manhood, I want to embrace my womanhood.”

Oh the pain, THE PAIN!!! Why is it that women like her, and Shailene Woodley think feminism means trampling upon or taking over men? Feminism IS about embracing your womanhood, all of it. Feminism is not about trying to be like men, but to show the world that being a woman is just as viable and powerful as being a man.

While it frustrates many feminists to hear such misnomers as this, we have to look deeper at what Evangeline had to say about playing female characters on screen.

“I don’t like the idea of playing a one-dimensional character who is just fearless, strong and killer and has instincts and just thrives in dangerous circumstances –- that’s really boring to me and I don’t think it represents what most women feel inside,” she said.

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She even went on to talk about how she describes herself as a “reluctant actress”, meaning she doesn’t seek out roles, she would rather concentrate on writing, and being part of the creative process in order to ensure the characters she does play are portrayed in a realistic manner.

“I do get involved very heavily in the creative process because I think it’s a dangerous trap that sometimes male writers can find themselves getting into where they’re trying to create a strong woman, but they actually don’t know what female strength looks like. They don’t know what it means and so they create strength that looks manly. And I think it’s really important that young women and women of all ages see female characters that represent true femininity and that that isn’t weak, but that’s strong.”

Some awesome perspective and insight from her, which is why it’s so bizarre that she can’t identify as a feminist. She TALKS like one!

Perhaps someone needs to tell her that being a feminist is a little bit like playing a kick-ass woman, as she seems to identify with that moniker  very well! If she was ever going to be typecast, it would be as one of those type of women.

“There’s a lot of fear in Hollywood about ever being typecast, and I kind of feel like, “Man, if you’re going to be typecast, what better to be typecast as a kick-ass chick?” I try to put my stamp on these strong female characters, which is the idea that they’re strong because of their compassion, they’re strong because of their vulnerability, they’re strong because of their emotion and they’re strong in spite of their fear.”

She brings up a very important topic of portraying women as strong despite being feminine. This is something that extends beyond Hollywood, and into our everyday culture. Men fear being called a “pussy” or weak if they display emotions. Women feeling like they need to exhibit masculine traits to climb the corporate ladder. It is time for gender roles and stereotypes to be abolished in order for all attributes of male and female to be accepted as the norm, not just one of them.

Evangeline says writing is her way of possibly changing the status quo, which is why she is releasing a series of children’s books which she plans on turning into graphic novels.

“It’s got a female protagonist who is very complicated and wounded and brave and she does find herself in some pretty amazing circumstances and she does kick some butt, but she’s not in any way one-dimensional. I’m so excited to tackle this writing project,” she said.

Her commitments with Marvel’s ‘Ant Man’ in 2015 and 2016 will determine the release date and how much time she can spend on the project, but what we love is that she recognizes how the representation of women in all mediums begins with the foundation: the writing.

While we are definitely disappointed at the way she has misconstrued the term “feminism”, we can’t fault her for what she is doing, saying (in relation to female characters in film) and how she is walking her talk. Perhaps she will eventually change her mind and realize that what she is doing is in fact kicking-ass in the feminist world. Until then, we’ll choose to focus on the positive.

evangeline-lilly-the-hobbit-tauriel

2 Comments

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  2. Marysia Kosowski says:

    Maybe someone could send her some fan mail and email her a link of this article. She does need to realize that this is what feminism is about. I always find her opinions funny, incisive and heroic. 🙂

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