12 Days of Feminists: Amber Tamblyn

This year, we’re celebrating the women who showed up, raised their voices and fought for change—like actor, author and activist Amber Tamblyn

Amber Tamblyn feminist in white shirt and blazer with illustration of four fists up in solidarity

(Photo: Getty; photo illustration: Joel Louzado)

“Feminist” has always been a charged label, but now, perhaps more than ever, the movement has taken a hard left turn, leaving a swath of vocal millennials—most often, those who take issue with the way feminism handles hot-button topics like abortion and race—behind. A recent study reported that more than half of millennial women don’t identify as feminists, many of them ditching the f-word in favour of something more “equal,” such as “humanist” (a term to which Sarah Jessica Parker has proudly clung since 2015). And that—namely, the way the feminist movement has lost sight of its larger goal (ahem, equality!!!)—is precisely why we need people like Amber Tamblyn.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants actor got serious about her commitment to the cause at the end of 2017, as the entertainment world grappled with the inescapable new reality unearthed by the #MeToo movement. In September 2017—mere weeks before the Weinstein dam broke—Tamblyn penned a brave open letter in which she called out 71-year-old actor James Woods for his “predatory” behaviour, describing a time when he hit on her when she was a teen. And her strong words made us feel seen.

Then, in the first week of January 2018 (and smack in the middle of Hollywood’s tectonic post-Weinstein shift), Tamblyn co-founded Time’s Up, an anti-harassment action plan with the goal of ending the gender power imbalance across all industries. More than 300 founding members kicked off the year with a challenge to Hollywood’s finest: show us that you stand with us by wearing black to the Golden Globes. What manifested was arguably one of Hollywood’s most powerful public protests and a legal defense fund dedicated to offsetting legal costs for women who’ve been sexually harassed. The momentum of both Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement continued throughout the year, inspiring survivors to come forward and share their stories and forcing the removal of several harmful predators from their positions of power—dubbed the “Weinstein Effect.”


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#TIMESUP solidarity party in full effect!

A post shared by Amber Tamblyn (@amberrosetamblyn) on

At the same time—and with a young babe at home—Tamblyn was writing up a goddamned feminist storm. First, about what she believed the all-black red carpet accomplished: “To uniformly reject our lifelong objectification and say: Enough. We belong to no one. We are a canvas for no expression other than the words our voices have chosen to speak.” Then, a powerful article about how having a baby during the #MeToo era made her a better parent: “The act of becoming a mother makes you find out quickly what you will and will not tolerate. It makes us dangerous.”

In June, she published her book Any Man, which tells the story of a serial rapist named Maude and the men she leaves in her wake. Tamblyn told FLARE that the powerful novel aimed to illuminate the systems which deter survivors of sexual assault from coming forward—a glaring reality in the #MeToo era. “Even though it is a story about survivors, it’s really an indictment of our culture and how we are both complacent and complicit in what we do and what we say and how we act and how we feel about these stories,” Tamblyn said.

Tamblyn knows her work isn’t done. Her political memoir Era of Ignition—a personal exploration of feminism during these ever-polarized times—is set for release in March 2019. Just a few weeks ago, she gave us a sneak peek at a Feminist AF event (a reading series with the goal of amplifying diverse feminist works and voices, which she co-founded with Roxane Gay) as part of Vulture Fest in Los Angeles, reading a story about what it was like to spend 2016 election night with Hillary Clinton. And, considering I got chills just from the reports of her reading, you can bet I’ve already placed a pre-order.

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