If you don't know what feminism is, let Jennifer Lawrence explain

Apr 7, 2016 at 3:09 p.m. ET
Image: Mario Sorrenti

Need a crash course in feminism? Jennifer Lawrence has you covered.

In a new interview with Harper's Bazaar, Lawrence addresses the controversy she created when she spoke out about equal pay for women and men in Hollywood, and why she is a staunch feminist.

"I don't know why that word is so scary to people; it shouldn't be, because it just means equality," she explains. "If we are moving forward in a society, you are feeling stronger as a woman and you want to be taken more seriously. You don't have to take away the wonderful traits that come with being a woman: We are sensitive. We are pleasers. We're empathetic. All those things that can keep you from asking for what you want or making mistakes."

Those traits, she argues, don't make her less of a powerful woman.

"There's nothing wrong with being a pleaser if you're smart about it," she says. "As long as you're getting what's fair. You know, I want my employers to be happy. I want to please anyone I'm working for as long as they pay me the appropriate amount. I'll make them as happy as they want."

Lawrence publicly addressed the gap in pay for men and women in the entertainment industry in an essay she wrote for Lena Dunham's newsletter last year. Her stance garnered backlash, even from other celebrities like Ricky Gervais, who joked, "Jennifer Lawrence… demanded equal pay for women in Hollywood, and she received overwhelming support from people everywhere. There were marches… with nurses and factory workers saying, 'How the hell can a 25-year-old live on $52 million?'"

In response, she says, "I had no idea it was going to blow up like that. And I obviously only absorbed the negative. I didn't pay any attention to the positive feedback. My parents get really upset. They do not like me speaking out about anything political because it's hard to see your kid take criticism. But, really, people who criticized it are people who think women should not be paid the same as men. So I don't really care what those people think."

Despite her down-to-earth attitude, Lawrence knows her outspoken stance can be intimidating, as much as she wishes it weren't.

"I can feel people sometimes are intimidated by me, but I try to do the best I can to offset that," she says. "There is zero reason to be intimidated by me. At all. But I also understand it."

Do you agree with Jennifer Lawrence's views on feminism?