FEMINIST CONVERSATIONS: Bollywood Babe Priyanka Chopra And Actress & Humanitarian Olivia Wilde

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We know, it’s been a while. But the Feminist Conversation series has NOT vanished! This week we’re back with another fresh installment featuring Bollywood babe Priyanka Chopra and actress and humanitarian Olivia Wilde.

For those who haven’t read our previous feminist conversation pieces (catch up here!) this is the space we dedicate to sharing messages from celebrities about what feminism means to them. There is far too much misinformation being spread about the movement, so we feel it is important to share just how valuable it is, because many of the people we talk about are great examples of how feminism can apply in so many different ways.

You will see this in both Olivia and Priyanka’s perspectives. Crossing over from Bollywood to Hollywood is no small feat, yet Priyanka is showing how possible it is. Coming from a country where gender violence is a big issue and is rightly being discussed at a level like never before thanks to international media coverage of the 2012 gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, it is no surprise that actresses like Priyanka are using their platforms to take a stand for feminism.

But India still has a largely conservative culture that many women have to battle against, and sharing their opinions on equality in a public forum can sometimes be controversial. Thankfully, Priyanka says she is not afraid of raising her voice and says she refuses to be labeled as “brash” just because she is a feminist.

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“I know I should be diplomatic, but I’m a girl with an opinion. I’m not afraid of having one. I’m told all the time by my team and my family to shut up and not always say what’s on the tip of my tongue,” she said, and we sure are glad she refuses to “shut up”!

One of the things we hate the most is when feminism gets painted as a man-hating movement, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“I don’t say things just because I’m a feminist and I believe in woman power. That word (feminist) has been bastardized; there’s no respect to it anymore. I’m not berating men,” said Priyanka in a recent interview with the Hindustan Times.

In an interview with Filmfare.com, she expanded on her thoughts about feminism and what it means to her personally.

“Feminism needs to become a proud word, give women the freedom that men have been enjoying for years without being judged. Feminism desperately needs two things – one, girl love and two, more men. Women need to prop each other up and not pull each other down and men need to support the idea of getting their women their due,” she said.

As a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF for 8 years and counting, Priyanka helped launch the ‘Fair Start’ campaign which addresses the socio-economic problems in India. As part of her commitment, she will be promoting a series of short films which provide insight into issues such as child marriage, poverty and violence.

“I associate myself with initiatives close to my heart. Now, I am also a ‘Girl Up Champion’ for the United Nations. It is completely self-funded and a small endeavor at the moment but I plan to partner with bigger organizations soon,” she said.

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The focus on children is an vital part of feminism, because there is a general consensus that we don’t want to see the next generation growing up battling the same issues we are facing today. Actress Olivia Wilde is certainly familiar with this as she is adamant about raising her young son Otis to understand the importance of equality.

In an interview with Yahoo Beauty, the ‘Vinyl’ star said she wants her son to grow up knowing about the negative body images standards that exist in society. In a world where industries like fashion and advertising send out not-so-subtle messages that physical appearance is what a woman should be primarily valued around, Olivia shares why it matters to her that she teaches her son this is not true.

“I hope to raise a child who values people for what’s within them and yet I hope he experiments with his own identity and who he wants to be. I look forward to helping him feel that type of confidence I felt when growing up…I’m grateful now that my parents let me go through my own process of self-discovery and I think you can’t restrict kids in that way. They have to make mistakes, play, and then figure it out in the end,” she said.

Her own discovery of feminism and forming her identity away from superficial standards is also something she wants her son to know he has permission to do. Because narrow definitions of beauty and body standards also affect men.

“In terms of feminism, yes, I like to think he’s already a little feminist. And he is. He’s a really good guy. I want to promote the idea that the definition of feminism is equality and it’s something that’s not difficult to teach children because they are born with that sensibility. They are only taught to separate people and value them differently once they get older. Luckily, I’m just embracing the perspective he was born with,” she explained.

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Her son is certainly already somewhat of a media star himself, as he was part of a Glamour Magazine cover shoot in 2014 with his mom. Olivia received a lot of attention for choosing to breastfeed Otis but she managed to elevate conversations about public breastfeeding, which has become part of the movement to end body discrimination around women and mothers (slut-shaming, Free The Nipple etc).

It’s certainly part of the feminist conversation because it all about the idea of women choosing what to do with their bodies despite what society may determine.

“I’ve learned a lot about that debate since that photo shoot and certainly since becoming a mother. One thing that is very clear to me is that it should be every individual woman’s choice what she wants to do. But once she makes that choice, she should be publicly permitted to do that in whatever way she needs to. Certainly there should be no pressure on women to breastfeed, or they are made to seem like they are terrible mothers. I think that’s really unfair,” said Olivia.

“I did not in any way intend to shame women who had chosen not to breastfeed for whatever reason. It’s a complex issue, but the one thing that’s not complex is that people should be allowed to breastfeed wherever they want, whenever they want,” she added.

We love how both of these badass women are speaking their truth, standing up for the identities they define, and championing the causes most dear to them all the while unafraid of calling themselves a feminist. This is what we need to see more of!

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