Halle Berry Is Challenging Her Son's Understanding Of Gender Stereotypes And Sexism 'All The Time'

Ata Owaji Victor
·3-min read
Photo credit: Stefanie Keenan - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stefanie Keenan - Getty Images


Halle Berry has revealed she's teaching her son to challenge gender stereotypes and sexism so that he'll be 'determined not to just accept' preconceived narratives about a person's place or value in society.

During a virtual panel discussion, streamed on January 30 and hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association as a part of the Sundance Film Festival with the likes of Sia and Zendaya participating, the Oscar winner opened up about being a mother to her seven-year-old son Maceo Martinez, who she co parents with her ex Olivier Martinez.

At one point in the conversation, titled Women Breaking Barriers: An Industry Shift, Berry explained how she's bringing up her child and educating him about gender stereotypes at an early age, noting: 'If we want to have a future that's different, that is where it starts.'

The actress continued, adding how the topics in the panel have made her think about the conversations she's had with her son since he was five years old about perceptions of sex and gender.

'I see how he's taught to feel like he's superior, at five, than girls are,' she said. 'I've had to really break that down for him and give him a new perspective, and challenge those thoughts and ask him to identify where that comes from, and if he believes that or not and challenge what he's subconsciously getting from somewhere.

'I can tell that because we're having those conversations he is going to grow as a deep thinker on the subject. He's going to be determined not to just accept it. I keep challenging him all the time, like "Well, why is that a 'girl colour'?".'

Zendaya later interjected into the discussion, stating that she feels fortunate to have worked with several men who have respected her voice. 'I've been lucky enough to work with men who have respected my power, and encouraged it, with that being Sam [Levinson] and obviously John [David Washington],' the award winner said, adding: 'I've been lucky to be in those experiences that are collaborative and open to what the world should be looking like.'

This is not the first time Berry - who also a mother to her 12-year-old daughter Nahla Ariela from her relationship with Gabriel Aubry - has spoken openly about issues surrounding gender and sex.

Photo credit: Jon Kopaloff - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jon Kopaloff - Getty Images

Last year, Berry revealed that she had turned down the change to play a transgender character in a film after facing backlash online.

During an Instagram Live last July, the Catwoman star faced criticism after sharing that she was preparing for a role in an forthcoming project. '[It’s] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man,' said Berry, according to the Independent. 'She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing.'

Days later, Berry apologised to her followers and noted that she would no longer be taking part in the film, via a statement on Twitter.

'As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories,' she said in addition to promising to promote better representation in Hollywood, adding: 'I vow to be an ally.'

The non-governmental media monitoring organisation GLAAD later commended Berry on her decision, tweeting: 'We are pleased @halleberry listened to the concerns of transgender people and learned from them.'

Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

In need of more inspiration, thoughtful journalism and at-home beauty tips? Subscribe to ELLE's print magazine today! SUBSCRIBE HERE

You Might Also Like