Carey Mulligan on feminism: it feels ‘like a new word, people are afraid of labels’

19th Annual Hollywood Film Awards
Carey Mulligan has done a decent job of staying away from controversy. It is not that she doesn’t have an opinion, she simply acknowledges that her opinion may not be your opinion. Carey is talented and wishes to be judged primarily on her merit as an actor. However, as she is promoting a movie called Suffragette, it is expected the bulk of her interviews will be on feminism. But what happens when your very famous co-star came out with nonsense statements on feminism while promoting a film on feminism? Well, you get to play clean up in the most judicious way you know how:

On American vs. English feminism: … I’ve been between America and London with it and I don’t think the definition of feminism is different between the two locations. Recently, it has felt like a new word… People are afraid of labels and I think this year they’re starting to reclaim what the word originally meant, in a positive way that’s interesting.

On Jennifer Lawrence’s statement about pay inequality: I think it’s a good thing for someone like Jennifer to speak out; it means an awful lot to women. Sure, there’s been cynicism toward her speaking out and the fact that she makes a lot of money, but she is completely and selflessly rising above that. (The discrepancy) is inherently unfair and she has an enormous platform to speak out against it. Men in Hollywood look up to her because she is powerful. She’s using that platform to correct something that isn’t right. It’s a long overdue conversation and it’s admirable what she has done. This is an age-old issue that’s in every part of society.

On movies claiming female empowerment but aren’t: … young people today are bombarded with images that I didn’t have when I was growing up. There are some that pertain to female empowerment and others that do not. Young kids are looking to these characters as some sort of a role model…


I thought Carey was fantastic in Never Let Me Go and she surprised the hell out of me in Shame. I know we don’t know each other very well and I hope you won’t let this color your judgment of me but I liked her as Daisy in The Great Gatsby. Carey has been more outspoken about her stance in the past. She came out strong on the Jennifer Lawrence question and makes a good point about a person in Jennifer’s position speaking up. It’s too bad she has to dance around the definition of feminism and false messages.

She does mention going to other countries with Suffragette and that it was not lost on her that young women need to be reminded not to take their right to vote for granted; this should have been the t-shirt slogan used to promote Suffragette instead of this.

Elle Women in Hollywood

Premiere Of Focus Features' "Suffragette"

Carey Mulligan And Marcus Mumford Touch Down At LAX

photo credit: FameFlynet and

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26 Responses to “Carey Mulligan on feminism: it feels ‘like a new word, people are afraid of labels’”

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  1. Locke Lamora says:

    I love Carey so much, she’s so talented and seems to be smart and thoughtful too.

  2. Snazzy says:

    I can’t believe this f-ck up around the release of this movie. What should have been such an important message got drowned out in stupidity. It makes me so sad.

  3. LAK says:

    I’m still flabbergasted that people don’t understand feminism. Every argument about it is simply adding layers to a simple thing. Yet people will argue the layers and insist one must study in order to understand the layers because otherwise they can’t possibly understand the simple thing. Yes, the world is complex, but some truths really are simple. No need for layers or study or justification.

    • Snazzy says:

      I got into this argument with one of my closest friend a short time ago. We were discussing something and all of a sudden she said “don’t get me wrong, I’m not a feminist or anything….”
      I mean, WTH? It’s just about equality! She just wouldn’t hear it …

    • Saphana says:

      how would someone “understand” feminism? thats like saying “i understand physics” its very broad movement and no “believe in equality” does not cut it. what does that mean anway? sit on the couch and believe in reproductive rights?
      the term has been watered down immensely and celebs have played a huge part in that. we now also have a huge number of so called “male feminists” who are abusers who hide behind the term.

      • LAK says:

        There you go proving my point. Feminism is simple. It’s equality and the radical notions that women are human beings. Just like men.

        Do I need to study to understand that simple thing? Do I need to argue and justify that simple thing? So what if men call themselves male feminists? If they believe in equality and that women are human beings then clearly they are feminists.

        I always use religion as a comparative analogy because there are millions of sects, interpretations, practices of any given religion, but all the believers, no matter how disparate they argue the semantics, will boil down to the same thing. That they believe the fundamental tenet of their religion. So you’ll have the protestants arguing with the Catholics and within those broad umbrellas the various sects, but they all believe in the same god.

        Only an atheist could argue against that because they don’t believe the fundamental principle of god.

        And so with feminism. The fundamental principle is basic and simple. Equal rights, women are human beings with their own agency. Just like men. The rest is semantics.

        It’s mindboggling that in 2015, women are still bringing up arguments that essentially make the female species an ‘other’ that has to be studied before we can be comfortable according them equality and human agency.

        I’m glad when I was growing up with brothers, uncles, father’s etc anyone male, no one ever told me that I wasn’t equal to them nor did they suggest that I should study in order to figure out that I was equal to them.

      • Sam says:

        LAK – that’s actually fundamentally incorrect. Not all religions are based upon the premise of God. Buddhism, for example, while leaving room for the idea of higher beings in it, is not a God-centric religion. It’s premises far more upon the idea of human experience. And it’s far from the only one (Jainism, etc.). So your analogy doesn’t really work there.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        @ Sam: That’s not what LAK actually said though. She said “That they believe the fundamental tenet of their religion.” Doesn’t have to be a deity, that was just an example.

        Saphana, “sit on the couch and believe in reproductive rights?” Um, yes? Among other things. And best case scenario, you fight for them too. You say it’s been watered down and partly blame celebrities. Why would you EVER listen to them about this?

        I get so angry when people start claiming that feminism doesn’t exist. Yes it does. If someone is just confused because there are so many movements, that’s really their problem. Not identifying with all movements of one very simple, very basic idea of equality does not mean you cannot agree with the idea and fight for it. Where does that notion even come from? Every social movement goes through this. Still, would you say you don’t believe in civil rights because you cannot agree 100% with, say, Malcolm X? Come on.

      • Saphana says:

        Sam already put it pretty good. there is no “feminism” and this whole dumb down everything does what exactly? that people identify with a now meaningless label? nice progress.
        why did i write “sit on the couch” because thats what it comes down to mostly. say the f word and be celebrated, specifically men get all the awards for a little bit of lip service. it changes nothing.
        also i am not listening to celebs, but lots of others are doing it, thats the problem.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        So you’re not a feminist. What is your suggestion then? And please don’t say “take action” because that is an equally meaningless phrase, isn’t it?

    • Sam says:

      Because there’s no such thing as “feminism.” There’s a broad number of ideologies that fall under the umbrella of the term. It’s like saying “Christianity.” That could mean anything from regressive, super-conservative patriarchal Duggar-style beliefs to progressive, liberation theology style beliefs. The term itself tells you nothing about what the person using the label actually believes.

      Well, it’s the same with feminism. What feminism? There’s everything from womanism, TERFism, intersectional feminism, fat feminism, queer feminism – and each of those defines “equality” differently” and they even define “woman” differently in some cases and disagree over the priority of women in some cases. So no, it’s really not that simple by any means.

  4. Shruti says:

    I loved her as Bathsheba in Far From The Madding Crowd! Perfect mixture of arrogance and vulnerability.

  5. Misti64 says:

    The film released and flopped so what exactly is being promoted still?
    Is it about campaigning for awards?

  6. babs says:

    Making feminism a bad word is just part and parcel of trying to repress women. It’s been like that with many other things. If the powers that be (men, the church) feel threatened by someone or some group, they attach stigma to that name. It’s been going on for centuries with astrology, with feminine power, with anything that gives power or control back to the individual. Usually they try to say that something that threatens them is just ‘a conspiracy theory’, and its been successful because people still scoff at that term. Yet over the decades most conspiracy theories have turned into conspiracy fact. Ridicule is a most powerful form of repression, since everyone is afraid of being ridiculed.

  7. NoWayJose says:

    Geez,, maybe we’re not afraid of labels, we are just so effing TIRED of them!

  8. can i just say the 1 top picture …. her hair literally looks spun from chestnuts…. like speechlessly awesome against the color of her eyes….

    now that being said….. i think carey suffers from no edges… but in all seriousness….. a ailment that black women know about and do hair care routines to prevent this….but that many other cultures never speak of or claim to have experienced…. there were years where she did the blonde pulled back look and now I think she’s kinda paying for it…. so with that I like the hair down… dark…less stress on what little edges she may have…..

    im weird and notice this about her immediately.