Amy Poehler is a lot of things. She’s hilarious, of course, and a fantastic actress. She’s clearly intelligent, with quick wit and a sense of the world that comes through in her work. But she’s also a feminist.
And not in the sense of the word that makes men run for the hills. She’s the type of feminist who recognizes gender expectations in society — for men and for women — and strives to help women feel confident and secure in being themselves.
Which is exactly why, in a recent interview, Poehler proudly stood up for women everywhere when Neal Brennan, the host of Sundance Network’s panel show The Approval Matrix, sought the actress’s sympathy for expectations women place on him and other modern guys.
“Being cool is, like, passé. And now you have to be awkward and adorable,” Brennan said.
Poehler didn’t even hesitate with her straight-faced response. “Well, this feeling that you’re having right now — which is, like, ‘I’m supposed to be all things’ — is a feeling that women have every day and have their whole lives. So you’re just starting to experience it now.”
And Poehler is exactly right. Though that doesn’t mean it’s OK for people of either gender to have these unrealistic expectations placed upon them, which is why discussing it openly and honestly is the key to change.
“We have to deal with those juxtapositions every day,” Poehler continues, “but I’m glad you’re finally experiencing it as a white male.”
“I’m sensing a tone,” Brennan jokes, slightly uncomfortable.
Poehler doesn’t make light of the situation but does laugh at the fact that she likes “guys who go to therapy and are not afraid of a good massage, but I also would love to be with someone whose waist isn’t smaller than mine and who just, kind of, acts like my Israeli body guard.”
Poehler is spot-on in every sense of her answer. Neither gender should have these unrealistic expectations, but society places these pressures on us nonetheless. We applaud her for not shying away from the discussion.
And Poehler doesn’t just talk about these issues. She’s also taking action. She founded the web-series-turned-online-hub for girls Smart Girls at the Party. The site aims to help empower women and be a place where girls can turn for support.
Watch the full interview from The Approval Matrix below.