The people on this list are each encouraging feminist conversation and challenging people to do more to make the world more equal for all of us.
1. Carrie Brownstein
Actor, writer and musician Carrie Brownstein is an outspoken feminist. As part of American rock band Sleater-Kinney, she has made songs such as #1 Must Have and helped further the riot grrrl (feminist/hardcore punk) movement.
2. bell hooks
bell hooks’ writing on feminism, in which she encourages people to consider gender in relation to race, class and sex, is often cited as one of the reasons why we have the phrase intersectionality. hook’s book Ain’t I a Woman?: Black women and feminism also looks at racism and sexism in relation to black women and it also examines stereotypes of white women and how those have had an impact on black women too.
Beyoncé was once quoted as saying that she wasn’t a feminist because she loves her husband. However, the international superstar has since learnt a great understanding of feminism even including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s quote on feminism on ***Flawless, also educating her millions of fans learn in the process.
4. Amandla Stenberg
Since rocketing to fame as Rue in The Hunger Games, Amandla Stenberg has begun to use social media platforms such as Tumblr and Twitter to educate people about feminism and how it can be more intersectional.
After being named one of the Ms. Foundation for Women’s feminists of the year, Stenberg said “let’s continue demanding space for women who are not thin, white, straight, able-bodied, neurotypical and cisgender.”
5. Janet Mock
Although Janet Mock was once proud not to call herself a feminist, the writer, host and activist now wears the label proudly. In a 2014 essay, she wrote “our duty is to use feminism as a tool to check systems that uphold racism and slut shaming and sex worker erasure and anti-trans woman bias and general policing of other people’s choices.”
As the co-founder and creative/editorial director of independent feminist media organisation Bitch Media, Zeisler’s work offers feminist interpretations of pop culture. Bitch Media – and Zeisler’s writing – is a massively useful feminist tool as people look for different angles of the media that they consume.
Maya Angelou, who passed away in 2014, was a hugely influential feminist. Angelou’s work discussed racism, identity and social injustices with her autobiographical work I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings being considered a large reason why black feminist writings increased in the 1970s.
What could be more inspiring (and badass) then possibly becoming the first female president of the United States? Hillary has always used her platform to speak out for women’s rights – as she did most notably during her 1995 “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” speech in Beijing.
Gloria Marie Steinem is an American feminist, journalist, and social and political activist, who became nationally recognized as a leader and a spokeswoman for the feminist movement. She has inspired generations of feminists since her 1969 article After Black Power, Women’s Liberation.
Lena Dunham’s tv show Girls broke the mould by depicting real girls with real bodies and real issues. Since then she’s never stopped encouraging women to love themselves since.
She also makes sure to give feminism-doubters a reality check: “Feminism doesn’t mean women are going to rise, take over the planet, and like cut off men’s testicles.”
Emma Watson has bravely rallied for women’s rights even after being threatened because of her #HeForShe speech at the UN.
But the attacks only motivated the actress and Women’s Goodwill Ambassador to keep working against all the harmful ways that women are viewed and treated.
Russian collective Pussy Riot represents one of the strongest combinations of activism and music out there. Its members stage guerilla protests and performances, speak out against injustices for women in their music (especially against abortion laws), and demonstrate fierce bravery even in the face of jail time and government threats.
In a time when many female celebrities put a purposeful distance between themselves and the feminist label, actress Ellen Page embraces feminism as a personal mission. Whether at street protests or on Twitter, she rallies for equality, reproductive rights, gay rights and improvement in the representation of women in film.
Meredith Graves is the lead singer of Perfect Pussy, solo artist, writer, record label owner. She is a role model who teaches through her actions that passion and drive can help change an entire scene like punk rock.
And she’s never backed down from speaking out against sexism – either in interviews or onstage, confronting misogynist hecklers.
Throughout her career, Miranda July has weaved thoughtful feminism through her seemingly endless list of projects. She’s become an icon for this generation’s young women, especially those interested in artistic pursuits, most recently tackling issues of aggression and violence in her debut novel The First Bad Man.
Betty Friedan has helped lead the way for women to understand their rights and fight for them. Friedan helped spur on the second wave of feminism with her book The Feminist Mystique and she co-founded and presided over the National Organization of Women.
Cindy Sherman became one of the few women to dominate the contemporary art scene from the late 70s on. And she says she’s “still really competitive when it comes to […] male painters and male artists.”
Wendy Davis made waves when she led the now-famous 11-hour filibuster against Senate Bill 5, which would require stricter abortion regulations in Texas. While the bill eventually passed, we haven’t forgotten the lawyer and politician’s fierce support, and we hope her views on reproductive rights, LGBT rights and gun control continue to be heard.
It’s probably a scary thing to speak out and potentially alienate people right after your album has become huge, but that’s exactly what Grimes did with her anti-sexism manifesto in 2013. The Tumblr post calls out misogynist fans, condescending male musicians, and the media.