I MAKE no secret of my admiration for Jennifer Lawrence. She is smart and goofy and she wields a bow and arrow as well as Robin of Sherwood ever did. She has also, despite becoming stratospherically famous, consistently behaved in a way that makes me convinced she is normal. She is a beacon of hope in an increasingly bizarre movie system and a trailblazer for women’s right to speak out.
Lawrence has had to endure stolen personal pictures of her being blasted all over the internet. “I started to write an apology,” Lawrence said in a recent interview, “but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for.” She then went on to describe the stealing and subsequent publication of the images as a “sex crime”. And I think she got it in one.
Looking at those photographs is an act of sexual violation. They were private and they were stolen. She did not give her permission. And by calling it what it is, Lawrence is doing what plenty of others have not done – she is standing up for herself and in doing so she is showing solidarity with the millions of other women who have no voice.
Some have reacted with a depressingly familiar dismay about feminism’s apparent need for young, attractive “brand ambassadors” such as Lawrence. I get it – equality shouldn’t need a sales pitch, the abject wrongness of discrimination on the basis of gender shouldn’t need to be made palatable by being made pretty. But that kind of carping misses the point. To be disapproving of Lawrence or Emma Watson, who addressed the UN on feminist issues last month, demands an almost wilful negativity. Are these young women speaking their minds all that is needed to end the discrimination that women face? No, of course not. Is it “infuriating”, as Roxane Gay claims, that “celebrity endorsements” are needed to make the world more equitable? Well, it might be if you think that’s all that is required. But it’s not a zero sum game, is it? Who believes that Hermione Granger or Katniss Everdeen can alone end the inequality, violence and discrimination that women face? No-one surely. But I’m not going to complain about them speaking out.
And if you think they’re not achieving anything then just take a look at the reactions they receive. On the day that Lawrence reacted against the leaking of those stolen photographs, her Wikipedia page was hacked and two more photographs were posted. When Watson addressed the UN there was an immediate threat to release naked photographs of her. It turned out to be a hoax but that’s beside the point. The message is clear: speak out young women and you will be shamed.
I wish that grassroots activists and social projects running on a shoestring, tireless campaigners and frontline activists were given the cover of Vanity Fair on which to proclaim their belief in feminism as a force that can change the world for the better, improving the lives of both women and men. But while we wait for that to become a reality, I’m not going to moan about Lawrence being on there – self-possessed, beautiful and totally raging.
Lego bricks are turning green
I USED to keep mine in an old glass sweetie jar. Lego. I loved it. Still do. I didn’t think my devotion could go any deeper than when during the summer (after criticism that they were targeting girls with dodgy old pink stuff) they released three new figures – a palaeontologist, an astronomer and a chemist – each of whom happened to be female. Good work, Danish brick-makers. But news that the toymaker will not renew its promotional contract with Royal Dutch Shell has delighted me all over again. And well done to Greenpeace for its campaign against Arctic drilling which lent the heft to the argument that by associating with Shell, Lego was lining up with a “bad company”. The chief executive of Lego, Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, sounded grumpy that Greenpeace had involved his company in their campaign. But it’s the future of the Arctic we’re talking about so I reckon they should be given a pass. I also feel that seeing a kid playing with a Lego petrol station branded with an oil company logo is like seeing them with a realistic-looking gun. One day, we’ll look back at it and be shocked that we ever thought it was acceptable.
National Coming Out Day a day to be proud of
YESTERDAY was National Coming Out Day. Did you know? If you did and you are very organised, perhaps you even came out. If so, congratulations! If you missed it, then fear not, because today I am launching my own Every Day is Coming Out Day (because one day is not enough. Everyone has the right to be themselves every day. When I stop reading articles like the one I read last week about professional footballer Casey Stoney being subjected to abuse when she came out in the summer (as well as support) then I will end EDCOD, but not before. «