Now starring in an updated version of Gigi on Broadway, the young starlet has found a new understanding of the equality inherent in the term "feminism," admitting, "I used to be on the fence about it." Hudgens explains her hesitation stems from second-wave feminism "because it gets to a certain place where it almost has the reverse effect, where it's so overpowering and so aggressive that it's like rather than just standing up for female pride and female rights, it becomes, like, 'I am the man.'"
Image: Joseph Marzullo/WENN
Hudgens, who has been the focus of leaked nude photo scandals in the past, is no stranger to the shame of living in a patriarchal society. The former Disney actress, forced to publicly apologize for the violations in which she was the victim, wants to see women on an equal footing with men in society, but she doesn't want it to come at the expense of men. So what prompted her to finally call herself a feminist? "Now I feel like there's this new wave of feminists coming up that are truly about equal rights for women," she says. "I mean, Beyoncé is, like, killing the game, and I love her."
Beyoncé isn't the first or last person to promote the feminism = equality doctrine, but her unapologetic promotion of this ideal is certainly making waves in Hollywood. Others may be afraid of straying too far from the preferred polite feminism so many men insist on, but Bey suffers no fools. The Grammy winner's brash feminism has been criticized for everything from her performance attire to her provocative dance moves to taking her husband Jay Z's last name, but guess how much Beyoncé cares about those opinions.
Last December, Bey released a 12-minute short film called "Yours and Mine" in which she opened up about her fame, marriage and her views on feminism. Like Hudgens, Beyoncé originally shied away from the label "because people put so much on it." The longtime promoter of female empowerment explains, "It's very simple. It's just a person that believes in equality for men and women."
All it takes to cause ripples is a single drop, and Beyoncé's bare-bones, explanatory voice in the sexism debate has proven to be just that, regardless of how she dances or which last name she signs. And isn't that kind of the whole point of feminism? Putting it in these terms has given women one more way to embrace feminism, even if they've long feared the weight of the label.
Hopefully, Vanessa Hudgens won't be the last lady in Hollywood who takes Beyoncé's words — and gives-no-craps attitude — to heart. Insurgent star Shailene Woodley, who continues to denounce feminism in favor of "equalism," is one young actress who could use a little of Beyoncé's feminist schooling.
Hollywood has room for all sorts of feminists. From the quiet ones who play nice with the boys, like Emma Watson and the #HeForShe campaign, to the loud, subversive ones, like Broad City's Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer — there's no wrong way to go about it, and no wrong outfit to wear while you do it. Beyoncé gets it, Vanessa Hudgens gets it. Your move, Hollywood equalists.
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