Contrary to what Cotillard believes, feminism does not create separation; it's an attempt to remedy separation. And feminism doesn't create a divide between the sexes, it's a bridge between them. Or better put, it's a ladder that allows women to climb up to the higher playing field men have enjoyed since time immemorial. The mental acrobatics one must engage in to twist a demand for equal pay, for example, into separatist misandry is the kind of bending they hand out gold medals for at the Olympics.
Last International Women's Day, Emma Watson participated in a Q&A about her #HeforShe campaign and cleared up confusion about who is a feminist and what it means in very simple terms:
“Men think it’s a women’s word, but what it means is that you believe in equality. If you stand for equality, then you’re a feminist. Sorry to tell you. You’re a feminist. That’s it.”
It's that simple, people! If you believe in equality -- boom! -- you're a feminist! Even if you have a penis! Feminism involves all of us, regardless of gender. And, despite what you may have heard, growing out your armpit hair and punching every dude you see are not requirements.
But for every Emma Watson, there are 10 Marion Cotillards. In 2013, I highlighted just a few instances of famous women misunderstanding feminism:
When asked whether they are feminists, famous women too often distance themselves from the idea either because they think being a feminist somehow means they hate men (“I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men.” — Lady Gaga), or they think the term has a negative connotation (“I think when people hear feminist, it’s like, ‘Get out of my way, I don’t need anyone.’ I love that I’m being taken care of and I have a man that’s a leader.” — Kelly Clarkson), or they think being a feminist means you’re a negative whiner (“I think [considering myself a feminist] would isolate me. I think it’s important to do positive stuff. It’s more important to be asking than complaining.” —Bjork), or that it means you’re a lesbian (“For me, feminism is bra-burning lesbianism. It’s very unglamorous.” — Geri Halliwell a.k.a. Ginger Spice), or they suffer from cognitive dissonance (“I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.” — Katy Perry, while accepting Billboard’s Woman of the Year award). The list sadly goes on.
When misogyny is so deep-rooted that even women are led to believe that feminism is a dirty word, and when feats like the one Wendy Davis executed are still necessary, it becomes abundantly clear that the struggle for gender equality is far from over.
The only way to remedy this epidemic of misinformation is through education. Next time you hear a friend say something like, "No, I'm not a feminist 'cause I'm a guy" or "I'm not a feminist 'cause I love boys", recite the actual definition for them or sit them in front of a computer and make them watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "We Should All Be Feminists" TED talk or hand them a book by bell hooks. And next time you see Marion Cotillard, tell her she could use a time out.