Popular feminism should learn from Jennifer Lawrence

Popular feminism should learn from Jennifer Lawrence
© YouTube

Actress Jennifer Lawrence announced she is taking a year off of acting to “fix our democracy.”

Partisan Republicans might be concerned as Lawrence has been an outspoken critic of President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE. When asked by Oprah Winfrey last year about possibly meeting the president, Lawrence warned: “I’ve got a pretty good speech. And it ends with a martini to the face.”

Lawrence wouldn’t be the first Hollywood star to moonlight as a political activist, and particularly to criticize a Republican president. To strengthen our society, rather than joining the crowded ranks of celebrities criticizing Trump, Lawrence could do more by setting her target on modernizing feminism.

Take the news surrounding her recent press appearance in London.

At a promotional event for her latest movie, “Red Sparrow,” Lawrence rocked a plunging Versace black dress with a thigh-high slit. She stood out not only because the dress was so beautiful, but because the four other people (the director and her co-stars) in the photo were men wearing coats. It was February in London, after all.

What was otherwise a minor story for E! News became an international story because some women alleged that sexism was the reason the only woman in the photo didn’t wear a coat.

Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, tweeted:

Actress Zelda Williams tweeted:

Aimée Lutkin at Jezebel asked if one of the men could have given Lawrence a coat and wrote:

“The answer, as we all know, is of course they couldn’t. Maybe Lawrence wanted to wear this dress and look fantastic. Maybe she didn’t get the memo and thought this was a more formal affair. Maybe she is contractually obligated to show up for photo calls in full glam instead of a loose weave sweater. Hollywood can be a cold, cold place, much like Mother Russia.”

Women who care about fashion regularly brave the elements to show off stunning dresses. This isn’t new. This isn’t sexism.

Lawrence responded to #WarmCoatGate on Facebook, calling the controversy, “utterly ridiculous,” and confirming she made the choice to wear the dress. No man told her to wear a revealing dress in cold weather. She wrote:

“This is sexist, this is ridiculous, this is not feminism. Over- reacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward. It's creating silly distractions from real issues. Get a grip people. Everything you see me wear is my choice. And if I want to be cold THATS MY CHOICE TOO!”

Lawrence is right. Finding sexism in everything isn’t feminism, or it shouldn’t be. Being offended by about everything has become synonymous with feminism today. 

It is time for a brand of feminism that is truly empowering for women. Women should be fighting for “opportunity feminism” or a version of feminism that maximizes women’s opportunities rather than instinctively looks for evidence of victimization. And women should celebrate that society no longer dictates that women must live their lives one way. Our focus should be on creating a world where women have the chance to pursue their own version of happiness, including when that means going coatless in London in the winter.

Karin Lips is the founder and president of Network of Enlightened Women, an organization working to educate the next generation of women leaders on conservative principles. Follow her on Twitter @KarinAgness.