For decades, the world has known Susan Sarandon not just as a talented actress, but also an outspoken advocate for a wide range of women's issues, from reproductive rights to equal pay. Gender-related matters have always ignited a passion within Sarandon, and, on "Oprah's Master Class," the Academy Award winner elaborated on her opinions about traditional gender roles and gender identity in today's evolving society.
"I'm so excited these days by the fluidity of gender that's happening," she says in the above video. "I think once all those 'boxes' are gone, it's going to be so much more interesting and so much less energy spent on those 'boxes.' We can get down to the nitty-gritty of, really, what a person is."
Professionally, Sarandon has explored that fluidity in films, like "Cloud Atlas," a multi-era sci-fi movie she appeared in back in 2012. "Everybody plays different genders and different colors and [in] different time periods, kind of suggesting that the essence of a person is so much more than whatever a person is wrapped in," Sarandon explains. "I love that notion."
Years later, this notion has seemingly become mainstream. "I see it more and more, in just the way people are dressing or refusing to dress, or the breaking down of very strict sexual orientation definitions, or even what it means to be a woman," she says.
As a parent, Sarandon adds that she would love to see gender stereotypes dissipate in childhood, especially those that expect boys and girls to behave so differently as they grow older.
"I always knew what I had to do for my daughter to give her a fair shake in the world... But the socialization problem for guys is so ruthless. Having two sons just made me experience that so much more," she says. "Guys just can't feel and can't cry and... all this stuff just gets pounded out of them."
The reality, of course, is that grown men do feel and do cry, which Sarandon says isn't something that they should ever be taught to suppress. "It's just not fair that you tell little boys that they can't be these other things," she says.
That's one of the beautiful things that Sarandon appreciates about show business: the jobs there are not gender-designated. There are just as many women constructing sets as there are men painting the scenery, she points out. It's an environment that the actress finds both empowering and compelling.
"I think that it's a much more interesting world when people don't have such narrow ideas of what they can be," Sarandon says. "We're heading that way."
"Oprah's Master Class" airs on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.