Joseph Gordon-Levitt: A lot of people seem to think that feminism is against men, or pits women against men, which is not my perception of it and not what my Mom taught me at all. I get it, and some people say, “I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, I’d call myself a humanist,” and I think that’s a good train of thought. However, I’d again go back to our history and our current state of affairs, which is not an equal one. So, it’s worth acknowledging that one gender has been more oppressed than the other.
The Daily Beast: Joss Whedon had an interesting take on the word “feminist.” He said, “Ist in its meaning is also a problem for me. Because you can’t be born an ist. It’s not natural. You can’t be born a Baptist; you have to be baptized. You can’t be born an atheist or a communist or a horticulturalist. You have to have these things brought to you. So feminist includes the idea that believing men and women to be equal, believing all people to be people, is not a natural state. That we don’t emerge assuming that everybody in the human race is a human, that the idea of equality is just an idea that’s imposed on us. That we are indoctrinated with it, that it’s an agenda.”
JGL: I think that’s interesting. But what the word “feminist” does do is acknowledge the very long history of the women’s rights movement. I agree with what he’s saying: It should just be assumed men and women are equally important and equally capable—but it’s not, and it hasn’t been for thousands of years. So, “feminism” and being a “feminist” is an acknowledgement of that history and the culture we’ve lived in for a long time. It’s a reaction to that, but for me, that’s an important acknowledgement to make.