As a wave of U.S. states move to restrict access to abortion in the U.S., female celebrities have been vocally protesting the new laws, which have passed in Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky and—just this week—Alabama and Missouri. From Busy Philipps’ emotional appeal on her talk show (and her viral hashtag, #YouKnowMe), to social media posts from Jameela Jamil, Amber Tamblyn, Tess Holliday and Ava DuVernay (among others), celebs are speaking out in favour of abortion rights—and some are donating money to foundations that are working to uphold Roe vs. Wade south of the border.
Mandatory vasectomies until you want to have children.
They can be reversed, so.
Come on guys, Lets save lives! Whats that? A hard no? Why? Cause its your body and we dont get to make that choice for you? Ooooooohhhhhh!!!
— #EvanRachelWould (@evanrachelwood) May 10, 2019
But we’ve also noticed something else: Male celebs are jumping into the arena, too. Michael B. Jordan and Chris Evans have both recently publicly stated their support for reproductive freedom, Evans on Twitter and Jordan on a podcast called Weed & Wine.
This is absolutely unbelievable. If you’re not worried about roe v wade, you’re not paying attention. This is why voting matters!! https://t.co/gZ5lrj7tQ1
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) May 15, 2019
Questlove, Patton Oswalt, Diddy, John Legend, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Dwayne Wade have all posted or commented about their pro-choice views online, too. Even our own prime minister is weighing in on the subject while he’s in Paris dealing with other world issues, like climate change and online bullying. Justin Trudeau said this week that he is “disappointed” to see how America is “backsliding” on abortion rights, adding, “as a government, as Canadians, we will always be unequivocal about defending a woman’s right to choose, defending women’s rights in general.”
Okay, praising people for posting on social media may seem like the lowest bar ever, but we’re actually here for it. Here’s why: These celebs, especially Jordan and Evans, have massive fan bases, including millions of young men who are forming their own views on the world right now. If we’re one day going to have a more equal society, it is of the utmost importance for those boys to learn that women have a right to control their bodies. And let’s be real—that message may make more of an impact if it’s coming from another dude, especially if that dude is a superhero on the big screen. I mean, that’s how celebrity works, right? We’re hard-wired to mimic those we admire.
Female celebs with pro-life fans are also speaking out
We should also recognize that men aren’t the only ones who risk alienating their audiences when they speak out in favour of abortion rights—and these views may soon affect their bottom lines. Former Jimmy Choo shoe designer and executive Tamara Mellon, who launched her namesake label in 2016, has been sharing her views with costumers and fans on social media, and she’s been receiving a lot of flack for it. But that’s not stopping her. She posted a message on Instagram this week announcing that she is matching donations to Planned Parenthood, fully acknowledging that while she is likely to lose customers by doing so, she doesn’t care. #WeStan.
View this post on Instagram
We’re matching all donations today to @plannedparenthood made through the donation sticker in our IG story. Yes, this will cost us some customers, but we believe brands can no longer afford to be neutral— especially when it comes to a woman’s right to choose. #alabama #prochoice #everyonecanseethis
Reese Witherspoon has also taken to Twitter to express her views, calling these new laws “unconstitutional and abhorrent.” Witherspoon, whose southern charm persona is so tied to her brand, currently runs a lifestyle collection called Draper James, full of southern-inspired apparel and home décor items.
I’m beyond upset about the passing of new abortion bans in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, and Ohio. This is Unconstitutional and Abhorrent. We can not tolerate this attack on women’s fundamental rights.
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) May 15, 2019
What makes both of these women so inspiring is they’re speaking to fan bases that likely skew conservative, but they’re not afraid of the impact their pro-choice views may have on their brands.
And they’re honestly doing good work, because—much like Jordan and Evans, who are speaking to young men where they are—they’re exposing women who aren’t following known firebrands like Jamil or Tamblyn to pro-choice arguments, and maybe it will help them see another side to the debate.
Hollywood has the power to change a lot of minds
However you look at it, Hollywood is going to have a major impact on the outcome of this fight, thanks to celebs’ words and how they spend their dollars. At first it seemed as though productions may be pulling out of states like Georgia, where Netflix and Disney each have multiple productions in the works. But former Georgia state representative Stacey Abrams actually implored filmmakers to stay in Georgia for now, in order to save hundreds of jobs. So instead, some studios and producers have pledged large donations to foundations that are working to fight these anti-abortion laws.
And if that doesn’t work, well, then they’ll leave. Or at least men like Jason Bateman and producer David Simon will. “If the ‘heartbeat bill’ makes it through the court system, I will not work in Georgia, or any other state, that is so disgracefully at odds with women’s rights,” Bateman, who currently stars in Ozark, told the Hollywood Reporter this week.
And tbh, what happens on-screen matters, too. After Dirty Dancing came out in 1987 with a plot that relied heavily on a back alley abortion, screenwriter and co-producer Eleanor Bergstein was pleasantly surprised at the number of young women who acknowledged that the film made an impression on their political views. “I think popular movies and TV can give you a role model for moral, sensual, sexual, ethical behavior that makes you feel attached to the world,” she told Vice in 2017. “What I hoped for with Dirty Dancing was that it would attach [viewers] to the world in a way that brought honor to themselves and to the world.”
His is a sentiment that echo’s throughout the country. According to Data Progress, there’s no U.S. state where support for an abortion ban reaches even 25 per cent. Which means there are a lot more people, including men, who need to take up the banner and speak up for women’s rights. Here’s hoping this movement gathers more steam.