Joseph Gordon-Levitt wants you to start talking about feminism. Specifically, your relationship to the word.
In the video "RE: Feminism," posted to the YouTube channel for HitRecord, Gordon-Levitt's collaborative production company, the actor explores the many different interpretations of feminism he has discovered since telling Ellen DeGenerous in early 2014 that he identified as a feminist.
Gordon-Levitt mentions the overwhelming web response to his declaration that he is "absolutely" a feminist and a later interview with The Daily Beast, in which he celebrated feminism as a "benefit to society."
"This interview got a lot of attention on the Internet. Certainly there was a lot of support," he says. "Then there are people out there who are against the word feminism, and who take it to mean a lot of different things. I wasn't as aware of this."
Gordon-Levitt says he stumbled across the Tumblr "Women Against Feminism," featuring self-pronounced "anti-feminist" women explaining why they don't need feminism.
"I found it very interesting looking through that site and seeing what people had to say," he says. "There were some people that were saying that feminism made sense in the past but it doesn't anymore because men and women are equal now. I'm no expert, but I think the facts are pretty contrary to this."
Gordon-Levitt lists the "definite disparity" between men and women's salaries in the U.S. as "one of many examples" of how men and women aren't equal just yet.
He also suggests that some people fundamentally misinterpret feminism as meaning "that it's not right for a woman to do things that are traditionally a 'woman's place,' like stay home and raise kids." He explains that his own mother was both an active participant in second-wave feminism (which he deftly distinguishes from first-wave feminism) and a full-time parent:
So not only was feminism something that my mom taught me about, motherhood is right at the core of what feminism is or isn't. A lot of people who don't identify with that word feel like that word is somehow against motherhood. Personally, I don't take it that way. For me, as a feminist, it should be up to the woman to decide if she wants to be a mom... If that's what she wants to do full-time, that's awesome, that's what my mom did. But if she wants to go out and have a career apart from being a mom, then she should be able to do that as well, and that's to the benefit of everybody.
Gordon-Levitt invites viewers to submit video blogs answering the question "What does the word feminism mean to you? Would you call yourself a feminist? Why, or why not?" Some submissions may be featured in an episode of "HitRecord On TV" next season on Pivot.
Women -- feminists and non-feminists alike -- have discussed the complexity and interaction of women's issues for decades. Now, JGL wants to join that dialogue thoughtfully and is encouraging others to do the same.
Promoting a definition of feminism that is compatible with all of women's choices and experiences is "complicated, and I grant that it's complicated, and I think it's a really great thing for us all to be talking about," Gordon-Levitt says. Key words? "Us all."
Our hearts are full.