Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, star of hit American comedy show The Big Bang Theory, has been making headlines recently as a result of her controversial comments in the magazine Redbook. During her interview she was asked if she considers herself a feminist, to which she replied, "Is it bad if I say no?... I cook for Ryan five nights a week: It makes me feel like a housewife...I like the idea of women taking care of their men."
After reading her article for Redbook and the response posted on her Instagram account, I've realised that the main reason why I felt upset by her comments was her complete lack of understanding of what feminism actually is.
Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, feminism simply refers to 'the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.' It's the fundamental belief that men and women should be treated equally. Therefore, in saying that she does not consider herself a feminist, she is suggesting that she does not believe she should be treated equally to her male counterparts.
However, this lack of understanding isn’t unique to Miss Cuoco-Sweeting. Comments under the article shared on Facebook revealed that many people share the mistaken belief that a woman cannot be both a feminist and a stay at home mother or housewife. But the reality is that these two things are not mutually exclusive. Where does it say that someone cannot believe in the equality of the sexes and look after their children at the same time? The point of feminism is that women have the choice. The choice to have children, with someone they choose, when they are ready; the choice to work and the choice to be a house wife.
A comment made under one of the E! Online articles sums this idea up perfectly: “guuuurl feminism is about doing what you love because you love it, even if that's "pretending it's the 1950s" – Alyson”
Although there was another quote from Cuoco's article that really struck a nerve: "It's not really something I think about." In a time where the news is filled with girls being kidnapped and killed in Nigeria by Boko Haram for trying to get an education, and amazing young women like Malala Yousafzai who are standing up and fighting for equality, even after being shot in the head by the Taliban, to say that "It's not really something I think about" suggests the highest level of ignorance. It may be easy for me to say this, as someone looking in at the world of Hollywood, but with other actresses like Emma Watson, who is now the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, campaigning alongside Malala in the HeForShe solidarity campaign, it seems hard to make excuses for this actress.