27 Of Our Favourite Outspoken Feminist Celebrities, From Beyoncé To Michaela Coel

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Famous feminists throughout history have helped to bring women's fight for equality to the forefront of society's consciousness in a variety of ways.

In the 20th Century there were women like Simone de Beauvoir, the feminist author who wrote the seminal feminist text The Second Sex, British political activist Emmeline Pankhurst who led the British Suffragette movement and American feminist journalist Gloria Steinem who to this day continues to champion women's rights and advocate the women's liberation movement.

In recent years, feminist celebrities like Michaela Coel, Megan Markle, Viola Davis and Emma Watson have used their fame and notoriety in Hollywood and beyond to raise awareness of the need for gender equality and help to redefine what it means to be a feminist in the modern day.

While there has been progress in recent years when it comes to gender equality, many challenges remain, whether it's the ongoing gender pay gap, the ongoing global struggle over reproductive rights, and the gross underrepresentation of women in political leadership positions. However, what we need more than ever is feminist celebrities using their platforms to continue the fight so that one day a woman will be seen and treated no lesser than her male counterpart.

Here is a list of the most famous feminists throughout history you need to know:

Meghan Markle

The actor and royal has been making headlines in the past couple of years, with her critique of how both the British tabloids and the monarchy have treated her since marrying into the royal family.

She has also been fighting for gender equality since she was a young girl, with footage of her calling out a sexist TV commercial at just 11 years old making rounds on the internet since she became famous.

At the UN Women Conference in 2015, Markle said: 'Women need a seat at the table, they need an invitation to be seated there, and in some cases, where this is not available, they need to create their own table. We need a global understanding that we cannot implement change effectively without women's political participation.'

From calling out misogynoir from the tabloids in the documentary Harry & Megan, to her dedication to philanthropy, Markle continues to stand up for herself and to uplift the voices of women across the world.

london, united kingdom june 03 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time meghan, duchess of sussex attends a national service of thanksgiving to celebrate the platinum jubilee of queen elizabeth ii at st pauls cathedral on june 3, 2022 in london, england the platinum jubilee of elizabeth ii is being celebrated from june 2 to june 5, 2022, in the uk and commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of queen elizabeth ii on 6 february 1952 photo by max mumbyindigogetty images
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Michaela Coel

Her groundbreaking TV series I May Destroy You received widespread praise for its depiction of the complexities surrounding being a victim of sexual assault, scooping up an Emmy and multiple BAFTA awards following its release.

The actor has spoken up for LGBTQ+ rights in recent years and signed an open letter that condemned the persecution of the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana. which read: 'To our Ghanaian LGBTQIA+ family: We see you and we hear you. We are in awe of your strength, your bravery and your audacity to be true to who you are even when it is dangerous to do so.'

Her first book, Misfits: A Personal Manifesto, was published in 2021, and explores her experiences with racism and sexism as a Black British woman.

Speaking to ELLE Canada, Coel previously expressed the importance of telling Black women's stories:

She said: 'I don’t see the experience of the black woman on TV. In order to write that, you have to understand it and I think it’s really hard to understand what it is to be a Black woman unless you’re a Black woman. It’s really hard. When I say black, I’m talking black, my dark– darker than paper bag skin. To live this life and for me, a working class, Black female’s life, you can’t write that story unless you live that story. I think that we deserve to add our portrait to the gallery of life, to the gallery of television and we want that portrait to be accurate. In order for that to happen, we have to write those stories ourselves.'

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Lady Gaga

Actor, singer and LGBTQ+ icon Lady Gaga has been a proud feminist from the beginning. Known for her eye-grabbing outfits, passionate performances and her emphasis on the importance of kindness, she has also spent her career advocating for women's rights.

As a sexual assault survivor, she has spoken out about consent and in a speech at the 2018 ELLE Women in Hollywood Celebration said: 'We women in Hollywood, we are voices. We have deep thoughts and ideas and beliefs and values about the world and we have the power to speak and be heard and fight back when we are silenced.'

She also famously shut down transphobic comments in an interview with Anderson Cooper back in 2011, with the journalist asking about rumours that she had a penis. Looking completely unbothered, Gaga replied: 'Maybe I do, would it be so terrible? Why the hell am I going to waste my time and give a press release about whether or not I have a penis. My fans don't care and neither do I.'

When speaking on feminism, she previously told SHOWstudio that: 'I am a feminist. I reject wholeheartedly the way we are taught to perceive women. The beauty of women, how a woman should act or behave. Women are strong and fragile. Women are beautiful and ugly. We are soft-spoken and loud, all at once. There is something mind-controlling about the way we’re taught to view women. My work, both visually and musically, is a rejection of all those things. And most importantly a quest.'

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Jane Fonda

Award-winning actor, activist and fitness fanatic Jane Fonda is still as prominent in the feminist movement now, aged 85, as she was during the Sixties.

Earlier this year, Fonda told ELLE UK about her relationship with feminism, noting:

'I didn't understand the women's movement at first, I just thought 'well this is a waste of time, they should be focusing on ending the war'. But as I got to know these activist women I realised that we live in a system that denigrates women and puts men on a pedestal – and that was not totally unconnected to the Vietnam War. Patriarchy and war go together. I finally began to understand feminism on a deeper level. I grew up thinking you have to go with the man, identify with the man, please the man...

'I think it was when I saw Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues play that I fully became a feminist. I laughed and cried in that play, but laughter takes you off guard and creeps into your consciousness when your guard is down. That was in the year 2000! So in terms of really understanding feminism and learning to love women, and to love the fact that I am a woman only happened to me 23 years ago. Before that, it was the "if I don't have a strong man at my side, I don't exist" period of my life.'

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bell hooks

Trailblazing feminist, activist, cultural theorist and author Gloria Jean Watkins, known more commonly by her pen name bell hooks, dedicated her life to education. Writing over 40 books, including the iconic Feminism Is For Everybody, hooks made sure that her work left no one out by exploring the intersections of sexuality, race, gender and spirituality, while also ensuring not to use complex jargon. Unlike a great deal of academic texts, her work truly was for everybody.

'Many of us were the unplanned children of talented, creative women whose lives had been changed by unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. We witnessed their bitterness, their rage, their disappointment with their lot in life and we were clear that there could be no genuine sexual liberation for women and men without better, safer contraceptives, without the right to a safe, legal abortion,' she role in Feminism Is For Everybody.

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Anne Hathaway

Actor, our princess of the fictional Genovia, and real-life UN Goodwill Ambassador Anne Hathaway is committed to using her platform for good.

From calling out sexist interviewers asking about her weight loss, to reflecting on her own internalised misogyny in realising she previously didn't trust women directors in the same way she did men, Hathaway is a reminder of how we should all strive to be better.

In November 2022, Hathaway spoke out about the gender pay gap at the Business 20 (B20), noting: 'As fuel and food prices rise globally, amid the climate emergency and sustained military conflicts, women’s incomes—as well as their contributions to businesses' success and the recovery of markets—matter even more than ever. This year, in 169 countries and areas—that’s most of the world—women’s labour force participation is expected to stay below pre-pandemic levels.

'Progress for women and girls is in dramatic reverse in many countries. Rights and freedoms that women and girls had experienced as normal—to work, to learn, to make choices about their bodies—have been abruptly taken away. Some of those losses have been legislated or imposed by governing authorities against courageous resistance. Others have been brought to light and sharpened by unprecedented global crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic.'

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Dolly Parton

While our favourite country singer might not label herself as a feminist as such, she did admit to The Guardian in a 2019 interview: 'I think the way I have conducted my life and my business and myself speaks for itself.'

She's right. One of her first hit songs, 'Just Because I'm A Woman', says it all with the lyrics: 'My mistakes are no worse than yours just because I'm a woman'.

From appearing in the feminist hit film 9 to 5 with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, which sees her character point a gun at her sexist boss, to her proud hyper-feminine style and her extensive philanthropy, Dolly has continued to show not tell that she's all about women's rights.

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Beyoncé Knowles-Carter

From the early days of Beyoncé's career in the Nineties, she made her feminist message and mission clear. In the 1990s, she rose to fame with her girl group Destiny’s Child with hit songs such as ‘Independent Women’, ‘Survivor’, ‘Say My Name’, ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’, and ‘Girls’. The singers celebrated the strength of women, their resilience, the importance of self-belief and supporting each other.

In her hit 2011 song ‘Run The World (Girls)’ the singer perfectly summed up the power of women, singing the lyrics: ‘We're smart enough to make these millions, strong enough to bare the children, then get back to business.’ The song has since become a feminist anthem for generations.

In 2013, Beyoncé released her hit song 'Flawless', which includes a quote written and spoken by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which reads: 'Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.'

During her career, the Grammy award history maker has also made sure to highlight the need to help other women rise up the ladder, from performing at the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show with her Destiny’s Child bandmates, and employing female musicians and collaborators for her performances and tours.

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Emma Watson

Emma Watson has been one of our most favourite feminist icons since she took to our screens as the intelligent and outspoken Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter film franchise in 2001.

In 2014, she launched the HeForShe campaign and delivered a speech at the UN headquarters during which she clarified the meaning of feminism and destroyed the argument that it is in any way ‘man hating’. ‘The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one think I know for certain, it is that this has to stop,’ she said.

The same year, she told ELLE UK that feminism is about choice, noting: ‘Feminism is not here to dictate to you. It's not prescriptive, it's not dogmatic. All we are here to do is give you a choice. If you want to run for prime minister, you can. If you don't, that's wonderful, too. Shave your armpits, don't shave them, wear flats one day, heels the next. These things are so irrelevant and surface to what it is all really about, and I wish people wouldn't get caught up in that.’

In recent years, she’s used her platform to discuss the importance of intersectionality in feminism and the pressures of being a famous feminist. ‘I'm no expert, and when people push me into a corner of “here's Emma Watson to lecture you on feminism:, it's uncomfortable because I am aware I have a long way to go,’ she told ELLE US in 2017.

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Viola Davis

Viola Davis has been a vocal advocate for the women’s liberation movement and spoke about the importance of fighting for each other’s rights at the Me Too moment during the LA Women's March in 2018.

‘Every single day, your job as an American citizen is not just to fight for your rights, but it is to fight for the right of every individual that is taking a breath, whose heart is pumping and breathing on this earth,’ she told the crowd.

‘I am speaking today not just for the Me Toos, because I was a Me Too, but when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence. The women who are faceless. The women who don't have the money and don't have the constitution and who don't have the confidence and who don't have the images in our media that gives them a sense of self-worth enough to break their silence that is rooted in the shame of assault and rooted in the stigma of assault.’

In a cover interview for Vanity Fair in August 2020, the actor spoke about Hollywood's double standard for women and the specific difficulties Black women still face around the world.

'We know as women, when you speak up, you’re labelled a b*tch—immediately. Unruly—immediately. Just as a woman. As a woman of colour, there is very, very, very little you have to do. All you have to do is maybe roll your eyes, and that’s it.’

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Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke is largely responsible for ushering in a new wave of feminism in the 21st Century after launching the #MeToo movement in 2006, more than a decade before its call to action was heard around the world in 2017.

For years, Burke has been a galvanising leader for victims of sexual assault and harassment and her work has encouraged hundreds of thousands of women across the globe to speak up about their own sexual assault experiences and helped open the floodgates for Hollywood's Time's Up movement.

In 2018, she delivered one of her most powerful statements about the Me Too movement at a Ted Women California Event. She said:

'So much of what we hear about the Me Too Movement is about individual bad actors or depraved, isolated behaviour, and it fails to recognise that anybody in a position of power comes with privilege, and it renders those without that power more vulnerable.

'Teachers and students, coaches and athletes, law enforcement and citizen, parent and child: these are all relationships that can have an incredible imbalance of power. But we reshape that imbalance by speaking out against it in unison and by creating spaces to speak truth to power.'

'We have to re-educate ourselves and our children to understand that power and privilege doesn't always have to destroy and take -- it can be used to serve and build. And we have to re-educate ourselves to understand that, unequivocally, every human being has the right to walk through this life with their full humanity intact.'

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Angelina Jolie

The Academy Award winner is as noted for her blockbuster films as she is for her philanthropic work.

After years of service to UNHCR and the cause of refugees as a Goodwill Ambassador, Jolie was appointed Special Envoy in April 2012. Over the years, her work with the UN has focused largely on women's struggles in war-torn areas, and saw her receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2013.

In March 2020 for International Women’s Day, Jolie wrote for TIME about the importance of giving young women love and respect.

‘Little girls’ softness, their openness and instinct to nurture and help others, must be appreciated and not abused. We must do much more to protect them, in all societies: not only against the extreme ways girls’ rights are often violated, but also the more subtle injustices and attitudes that so often go unnoticed or excused,’ she wrote.

Addressing young girls directly, she noted: ‘And my message to girls is, fight on, little ladies. Your care for each other will be a large part of your way forward. Hold your nerve. Know your rights. And never let anyone tell you that you are not precious and special and, above all, equal.’

In December 2020, as a part of her role as UNHCR Special Envoy, the actor and advocate spoke about the increase of gender-based violence as a result of the ongoing global pandemic.

'The truth is, a woman's life does not rank equally with a man's, far more universally than we are willing to admit, Conflict-related sexual violence is a manifestation of this reality,’ she said at the second International Conference on Action with Women and Peace in Seoul, reports Harper's Bazaar.

The activist continued, highlighting that governments and politicians seem to believe in rights for women and girls ‘only to a point’ where it doesn’t affect business, trade, or compete with political interests, or ‘to the point that it might force us to see something we don't wish to see, and have to act upon it’.

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Jessica Chastain

Chastain is one of the most vocal actors in Hollywood when it comes to gender equality and isn’t afraid to assert her views on what society can do better for women.

In 2014, the actor told the Guardian that she’d love to do a superhero film but doesn’t want to play a side part. ‘The problem is, if I do a superhero movie, I don’t want to be the girlfriend,’ she said. ‘I don’t want to be the daughter. I want to wear a f*cking cool costume with a scar on my face, with fight scenes. That’s what I’d love.’

The same year, she told The Wrap about the importance of giving female characters depth on screen, no matter how big or small their part is in a plot. ‘I don’t mind if the character is a small character, but I would just like her to have a journey in the film,’ she said. ‘Sometimes the characters are just there as a prop to further the man’s story. The great directors I’ve talked to, I’ve said listen, I don’t mind playing a woman that is a tiny part, but how does the story affect her? What can I play in the end that’s different from the beginning? Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense, because it’s just like being a prop.’

In 2018, actor Octavia Spencer revealed that Chastain doesn’t just talk the talk as she helped the Oscar winner negotiate a salary five times higher than the one she had initially accepted for a film they were working on together.

‘Here's the thing – women of colour on that spectrum, we make far less than white women,’ Spencer said during the Women Breaking Barriers panel. ‘If we're going to have that conversation about pay equity, we have to bring women of colour to the table.

‘And I told [Chastain] my story and we talked numbers and she was quiet and she had no idea that that's what it was like for women of colour...,’ she noted, before praising the actor for speaking out about parity in Hollywood.

‘She said, “Octavia, we're going to get you paid on this film”. She said, “we're going to be tied together, we're going to make the same thing and you're going to make that amount”,’ she recalled of her conversation with Chastain.

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Ariana Grande

You only have to listen to Grande's music to know she's an independent woman who relies on her own talent, resilience and determination to achieve success.

In 2015, the chart topper called out a radio presenter's sexist question after he asked her which a girl could last without for longer: a phone or her makeup. 'Is this what you think girls have trouble choosing between?' she asked. 'Is this men assuming that that’s what girls would have to choose between? You need a little brushing up on equality over here.'

In 2016, Grande took to Twitter to remind the world that women are not 'objects or prizes. We are QUEENS [sic]' after a fan congratulated her ex boyfriend, the late Mac Miller, for 'hitting that', referring to her body.

In 2018, the star spoke out about the response to a car incident involving Miller after fans began to blame her for it.

'How absurd that you minimise female self-respect and self-worth…I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be…Shaming/blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his sh*t together is a very major problem, [sic]' she tweeted.

In 2020, the famous feminist made her stance on women's rights known through the release of her positions music video, which is filled feminist Easter eggs, from cooking pasta in her kitchen to leading the country as the President of the US.

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Amandla Stenberg

The American actor is known for her scene-stealing roles in Hollwyood but over the years she has been using her growing fame to speak out on issues such as race, sexuality and feminism.

The star, who was named on TIME's list of Most Influential Teens in both 2015 and 2016, sat down with Gloria Steinem in 2016 for Teen Vogue to discuss feminism and representation.

'I never did not identify as a feminist, but I didn’t know where I belonged because I didn’t see myself represented,' she told the feminist icon.

'As I started to explore my gender identity, I didn’t know how I could claim the title of feminist without subscribing to the gender binary. I thought I had to be a proud woman to be a feminist. Then I came to the realisation that I can be proud of women without necessarily identifying as one. A lot of people are rejecting the binary—that’s the future of feminism.'

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Jennifer Lawrence

After the Sony hack in 2014, which revealed she was paid less than her American Hustle male co-stars on a film, Lawrence was one of the first stars to talk openly about Hollywood's pay gap problem. Despite being hesitant to talk about the issue due to her overwhelming financial privilege, she did so for Lenny Letter in 2015.

'Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co‑Stars?' she titled the piece, and recognised her silence when it came to discussing feminism in previous years. 'When it comes to the subject of feminism, I've remained ever-so-slightly quiet,' she wrote. 'I don't like joining conversations that feel like they're "trending",' she added, noting that she isn't perfect and that she found it 'hard' to discuss her experiences as a working woman 'because I can safely say my problems aren't exactly relatable'.

She noted at the end of her essay that one leaked Sony email 'revealed a producer referring to a fellow lead actress in a negotiation as a "spoiled brat." For some reason, I just can't picture someone saying that about a man.'

In 2018, Lawrence criticised reports about a Versace dress she wore for a London photo call, describing it as 'utterly ridiculous'.

Responding to the comments about her dress online, Lawrence posted on Facebook in a now deleted post, according to Sky News: 'Wow. I don't really know where to get started on this "Jennifer Lawrence wearing a revealing dress in the cold" controversy. This is not only utterly ridiculous, I am extremely offended.'

She continued, reportedly writing: 'This is sexist, this is ridiculous, this is not feminism. Overreacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward. It's creating silly distractions from real issues.

'Get a grip people. Everything you see me wear is my choice. And if I want to be cold THAT'S MY CHOICE TOO! [sic].'

Well said, Lawrence.

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Mindy Kaling

Comedian, writer, actress and producer, Kaling has consistently proved to be a pioneer in her industry. One of the few Indian-American women in comedy, Kaling refuses to be seen as an outsider not worthy of self-confidence.

During a conversation at the 2016 Watermark Conference for Women, she spoke about being an advocate for 'feminine feminism' and not adhering to society's gender norms.

'A lot of people sometimes think that you can’t be interested in things like fashion or things that are traditionally feminine and also be a strong woman…because that means you are doing that for a man…I wish that we didn’t inextricably link being interested in those things and being a strong woman,' she said.

In her 2015 book, Why Not Me? she wrote about the importance of having confidence and practicing self-love.

'People’s reaction to me is sometimes “Uch, I just don’t like her. I hate how she thinks she is so great.” But it’s not that I think I’m so great. I just don’t hate myself...' she penned. 'And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.'

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The singer and actor's feminist acts are too numerous to recount, from her tongue-in-cheek homage to Marilyn Monroe in her 'Material Girl' music video, to dealing with issue surrounding difficult family relationships, domestic violence and the AIDS epidemic on her Like a Prayer album and her then gender-defying pairing of the infamous Gaultier conical bra with a tailored trousers on her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour.

At the 2016 Billboard Women in Music Awards, Women of the Year acceptance speech Madonna took the time to show that her thoughts on gender equality are as on-point as ever.

Speaking to the misogyny she has endured through her music career she said: 'If you're a girl, you have to play the game. You're allowed to be pretty and cute and sexy. But don’t act too smart. Don’t have an opinion that's out of line with the status quo. You are allowed to be objectified by men and dress like a slut, but don’t own your sluttiness.'

She later told the attendees: 'What I would like to say to all women here today is this: Women have been so oppressed for so long they believe what men have to say about them. They believe they have to back a man to get the job done. And there are some very good men worth backing, but not because they're men—because they're worthy. As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth and each other's worth. Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to collaborate with, to be inspired by, to support, and enlightened by.'

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Emmeline Pankhurst

Pankhurst, alongside other famous feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth, was a leading pioneer in the first major rallying cry for feminism.

Following the death of her husband, Pankhurst founded The Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903, an organisation that she opened exclusively for women with the motto: 'Deeds not words.'

Over the years, Pankhurst and other Suffragettes across the UK fought vehemently for the progress of women's rights and, more specifically, the right to vote.

After the now famous 1906 WSPU march in London, Pankhurst penned the poignant phrase: 'Women had always fought for men, and for their children. Now they were ready to fight for their own human rights.'

Pankhurst's Suffragette movement, words and protests, both peaceful and radical, allowed for women to gain the right to vote in 1918.

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Angela Davis

This famous feminist is a trailblazing voice for Black women.

Davis played a crucial part in the Civil Rights movement as a political activist and was a key leader in the Black Power movement throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

During a lecture in 2013 on 'Feminism & Abolition: Theories & Practices for the 21st Century', in Chicago, Davis discussed the definition of feminism.

'Feminism involves so much more than gender equality. And it involves so much more than gender,' she said. 'Feminism must involve a consciousness of capitalism (I mean, the feminism that I relate to. And there are multiple Feminisms, right). It has to involve a consciousness of capitalism and racism and colonialism and post colonialities and ability and more genders than we can even imagine, and more sexualities than we ever thought we could name.'

Davis served as an honorary co-chair for the Women's March on Washington in 2017 and continues to be a leading voice in intersection feminist progression today.

In 2020, Davis was named on of TIME's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

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Diane Von Furstenberg

The enigmatic DVF, as she's commonly know, built her entire fashion career on the whole concept of female empowerment. 'Feel like a woman, wear a dress' and 'Proud to be woman!' are just some of the designer's most notable mantras associated with her womenswear brand.

Over the years, the famous feminist has also used fashion to empower women through her DVF Awards. Founded over 10 years ago, the awards aim to recognise the incredible female figures who have made positive impacts on the world through leadership, philanthropy and through hard work.

In a 2019 interview for Forbes titled 'Why We Need To Recognise Women Survivors', she said: 'I was raised a feminist. I was told by my mother that to be a woman was really a privilege. It is unacceptable that women are not equal. It is unacceptable that women are treated as meat and trafficked and so we all have to take a stand together.'

In March 2020 the designer launched a Spotify podcast series called In Charge with DVF, with the aim of telling women’s stories.

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Laverne Cox

The Orange Is The New Black star is a vocal supporter of the feminist movement, telling Dame magazine in 2014 that she has always thought of herself as a feminist.

'I absolutely considered myself a feminist before I transitioned,' she told the news outlet. 'When I was in college, I was very interested in women’s studies. bell hooks was like my feminist godmother. Her book Black Look changed the way I thought about race and gender. I was in a sort of androgynous place, figuring out who I was. I’ve always been interested in feminist politics, particularly because of my mother.'

She later added: 'I think transwomen, and transpeople in general, show everyone that you can define what it means to be a man or woman on your own terms. A lot of what feminism is about is moving outside of roles and moving outside of expectations of who and what you’re supposed to be to live a more authentic life.'

in 2017, Cox took to Twitter to discuss how crucial the inclusion of trans women in feminism is, for cis women as much as trans women.

'Gender exists on a spectrum & the binary narrative which suggests that all trans women transition from male privilege erases a lot of experiences and isn’t intersectional,' she tweeted.

'Gender is constituted differently based on the culture we live iN. ‘There’s no universal experience of gender, of womanhood. To suggest that is essentialist & again not intersectional [sic].'

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, rose to prominence after she became the youngest woman in history to be elected to the US House of Representatives in 2018.

AOC's progressive politics and unflinching confidence on the House floor have helped inspire a new generation of voters across party lines. Her electoral victory helped her join the ranka of other female Democrats elected to Congress in 2018, namely Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley - a group referred to as the Squad.

In July, 2020 the congresswomen denounced and effortlessly shutdown an apology from Republican Senator Ted Yoho, who denied using the sexist slur 'b*tch' in a confrontation with her. In Yoho's denial he cited his wife and daughters as reason for why his use of the term could not have occurred.

Ocasio-Cortez delivered a powerful response to this claim on the House floor, noting: 'Mr Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters, 'I am two years younger than Mr Yoho's youngest daughter. I am someone's daughter too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr Yoho treated his daughter.

'I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men. When you do that to any woman, what Mr Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughter. In using that language, in front of the press, he gave permission to use that language against his wife, his daughters, women in his community, and I am here to stand up to say that is not acceptable.'

Earlier this year, the congresswoman bravely revealed that she is a survivor of sexual assault during a denouncement of the 2020 Capitol riots. 'Thanks for making the space for me, and hope we can all make space for others to tell their stories in the weeks to come,' she later tweeted.

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Patrisse Cullors

Patrisse Cullors is one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter (BLM) organisation and the decade's most influential forces in fighting anti-Black racism.

Launched in 2013 and fuelled by the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, this famous feminist help lead the BLM into becoming one of the largest civil rights movements since the 1960s and 1970s. Since it's launch, Cullors - along with co-founders Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi - have helped create 40 chapters of the organisation across the US, Canada and the UK which have raised awareness to everything from campaigning for police accountability, the creation of bailout coalitions, the pursuit of civil rights legislation and fought for justice for victims of police brutality.

Cullors is an outspoken advocate for the rights of Black and queer women, been awarded the Sydney Peace Prize and named an NAACP History Maker.

In her book, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, she wrote of the lack of media coverage both she and major women in the 1960s civil right movement received.

'It takes a long time for us to occur to most reporters and the mainstream. Living in patriarchy means that the default inclination is to centre men and their voices, not women and their work,' she noted.

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Simone De Beauvoir

De Beauvoir is known around the world for being an outspoken political activist, writer and social theorist.

She's most famous for her 1949 trailblazing book, The Second Sex, which is credited for paving the way for modern feminism. In the influential (and at the time, extremely controversial) book, the author critiqued the patriarchy and the social constructs faced by women. As a result, the book was banned by The Vatican, 'partly because of its explicit passages on the functions of the female body and descriptions of lesbian sex', reports the Independent.

One of the activist most famous quotes about women in the book reads: 'To emancipate woman is to refuse to confine her to the relations she bears to man, not to deny them to her; let her have her independent existence and she will continue nonetheless to exist for him also: mutually recognising each other as subject, each will yet remain for the other an other.

'The reciprocity of their relations will not do away with the miracles – desire, possession, love, dream, adventure – worked by the division of human beings into two separate categories; and the words that move us – giving, conquering, uniting – will not lose their meaning.'

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Claudia Jones

Jones was the founder of Notting Hill Carnival and pioneering journalist and political activist.

In 1958, she launched the West Indian Gazette – an anti-racist newspaper which campaigned for social equality. That same year, she launched the famous Caribbean carnival, which to this day celebrates the beauty of West Indian culture and heritage, in response to the Notting Hill race riots.

As one of the most important Black feminists in history, Jones championed Black women and made no secret of her lifelong mantra that 'no peace can be obtained if any women, especially those who are oppressed and impoverished, are left out of the conversation'.

Her most famous piece of work, an article titled 'An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!', published in 1949, helped to establish the foundations of intersectional feminism. It in she urged others to recognise the unique oppression faced by Black women specifically in order to create a more nuanced comprehension of the oppression of the race overall.

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Gloria Steinem

Aptly referred to as the Mother of Feminism, Steinem was responsible for leading the women's liberation movements throughout the 1960s and 1970s. And it's a role she continues to do today.

As co-founder of the feminist themed Ms. Magazine and several female groups that changed the face of feminism including Women's Action Alliance, National Women's Political Caucus, Women's Media Center and more, her feminist efforts led to her induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993 and honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

At the Women's March in Washington D.C. in 2017, the feminist icon delivered a speech about the power of sisterhood.

'We are here and around the world for a deep democracy that says we will not be quiet, we will not be controlled, we will work for a world in which all countries are connected,' she told the crowd.

'God may be in the details, but the goddess is in connections. We are at one with each other, we are looking at each other, not up.'

famous feminists
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