Breaking: Big Bang Theory Actress Isn’t a Feminist; Also Sheldon Isn’t a Real Nerd

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Sort of transcript:

In an interview with Redbook this month, actress Kaley Cuoco, star of Big Bang Theory on CBS, was asked if she’s a feminist.

“Is it bad if I say no?” she asked in response.

Kind of, if by “bad” you mean, “ignorant.”

I totally get it though, because I thought the same thing back when I was an ignorant teenager. Feminism was something of the past. I didn’t realize I was a feminist, until I politely requested that men respect my wish to not be propositioned by strangers and now I get rape threats and DDoS attacks from men who call me a feminazi.

Kaley went on to talk about how she enjoys cooking meals for her husband, as something of an example of why she isn’t a feminist. This should come as a surprise to all of us feminists who love to cook. I’ll just throw away this plate of gingerbread cookies I made. I’m sure my boyfriend will understand….he knew what he was getting into, dating a feminist.

After a bit of an uproar, Kaley issued a not-pology, in which she literally says “sorry if you were offended.” She says that “anyone that truly knows (her), knows (her) heart and knows what (she) meant.” She seems to be confused here, because she doesn’t actually clarify her position at all and also she seems to be under the impression that Redbook isn’t a magazine that’s available to the general public to purchase, but instead is a personal diary distributed only to people who know her heart.

Ultimately I blame the Redbook reporter for this: first, for not explaining to Cuoco that the interview would be read by complete strangers who have no idea what is in her heart of hearts, and also for asking her if she’s a feminist in the first place. Hey, reporters: stop asking random celebrities if they’re feminists! Cuoco’s job is to get in front of a camera and act like a dumb blonde stereotype alongside men acting like socially inept geniuses. No one needs to know that she has an ill-informed concept of the continued fight for women’s rights. I’ll just assume she has no idea what she’s talking about unless she decides of her own free will to show otherwise. I’m looking at you, Emma Watson!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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  1. Rebecca Watson,

    I’m surprised. I thought you called yourself a feminist long before elevatorgate.

    1. I assumed that was a simplified narrative for rhetorical and comedic effect. I’m pretty sure I remember reading feminist writings by Rebecca and hearing her express feminist viewpoints on the SGU before “elevatorgate.”

      1. Also (apologies for putting words in Rebecca’s mouth here) if I recall correctly she got pushed towards outright feminism in a big way after getting smashed with bs following the founding of Skepchick and ‘whorish’ activities like making the calender. So the story is basically the same but it’s easier just to refer to the elevator apocalypse.

  2. Rebecca Watson,

    Come to think of it, maybe we should still be a bit thankful, at least Kaley Cuoco didn’t come out as a “Men’s Rights Activist.”

  3. I’ve had trouble loading Skepchick for the last couple days.

    I think one of the difficulties is that most people don’t understand what feminism is. The prevalence of the strawman version in the media is a big part of it.

    1. Not just you. I’ve been getting the load/verification screen or ‘website timed out trying to connect’ message.
      Everything seems smoothed out now, though.

  4. I’m glad you said that reporters need to stop asking this randomly, because that really is the point.

    Policing other people’s feminism seems to be a little out of character for you truthfully. I mean it’s not like she said a whole bunch of anti-feminist crap, she simply shied away from a word that anti-feminists have tried their best to misconstrue. As you pointed out it is best to not give an opinion if you are unaware but that’s hard to do when you are questioned about it point blank.

  5. I feel anyone whose career is heavily dependent on their public image should be given a pass for dodging questions about their politics or ideology, feigning ignorance of an issue or giving a non-apology that resolves nothing. Unless they are in a particular niche market (e.g., Hip-Hop singers, ideological comedy, etc.), such a declaration is unlikely to win them more than a few new fans and is much more likely to alienate more existing fans.

    If an entertainer wants to stand for what she believes in, that is fine. But do not blame her for trying to protect her image. Her image is part of the service she sells. The Dixie Chicks can explain this to you.

  6. It’s basically the triumph — so far — of a lot of people who’ve managed to get the perception of “feminist” as meaning “someone who hates men”. I’m sure Kaley Cuoco doesn’t hate men, so therefore she thinks she’s not a feminist. I’m also sure that she doesn’t think that women shouldn’t be allowed to, oh I don’t know, become a talented junior tennis player (#54 in Girl’s 14 singles in 1998), make a living as an actor (several series, commercials, and movies for over 20 years now), make as much as her male co-stars, and be “furious” (her word) when her pro-tennis player husband wins a game against her.

    I’ll also bet she got a pre-nup, which sounds like an awfully feminist (ie., sensible) thing to do in her circumstances.

    1. Reminds me of all those “agnostics” out there who fear the term atheist, despite that being definitionally what they are.

    2. Yeah, it’s something I just don’t get. Has Rush Limbaugh had that much influence in reshaping the perception of the word feminism? I had a female friend in grad school working on here PhD. She was smart, tough, and outperformed most of the guys (maybe all?) in the department. One day she told me she hated feminism and I think I actually sputtered out loud. “b..b…b…but you….I don’t……how can…..” and then my head exploded.

      1. I don’t think you can really blame people like Rush Limbaugh for this. Fact of it is that there are many ‘feminists’ screaming that all heterosexual sex is rape, that trans women aren’t ‘real’ women, that women who freely choose to be stay at home mothers are slaves who can’t see the shackles, and many other deplorable things. It isn’t like there’s unanimous agreement on what feminism means. It’s easy to understand why feminism can seem offensive to those without a lot of exposure to it.

        1. Maybe “many” in terms of absolute numbers, like “more than a hundred”–but radical feminists are a small proportion of the total.

        2. It’s particularly easy to see why people are offended by feminism when other people keep repeating the same lies and myths about feminism like:

          “…there are many ‘feminists’ screaming that all heterosexual sex is rape, that trans women aren’t ‘real’ women, that women who freely choose to be stay at home mothers are slaves who can’t see the shackles…”

          I’ve never seen a feminist say any of those things but I’ve seen a lot of ill-informed people or people hostile to feminism continue those myths.

      2. This long predates Rush Limbaugh; he’s a follower. In fact the attempt to redefine feminism as man-hating (and ugly, etc.) began at least as far back as suffragettes began to agitate for women being able to vote. It was the theme of an article I saw in an old magazine (I believe it was The Atlantic from the twenties or thirties) titled “The Death of Feminism”. In more recent decades it was pushed by people like Phyllis Schlafly. The inconsistency of someone like her, having gone through law school and making a living as a public speaker, saying women should not do what she herself did, shows the emptiness of the redefinition, but nevertheless it has been pretty effective.

        Luckily we have people like Taylor Swift who, after being schooled on the subject after making a similar mistake as Cuoco did, listened, reasoned, and changed her mind. And people like Beyonce proudly standing as a feminist, while her songs certainly state she sure doesn’t hate men.

  7. I didn’t much care for that whole Emma Watson thing.

    There are so many people out there who can speak on such topics. The only reason she was asked to speak at the United Nations was becasue she pretended to be a wizard on film.

    1. Or because she is a smart, well spoken young actress who appeals to the audience that the UN was hoping to reach. Whether that audience is the one they should be trying to reach is another question altogether but that is not Ms. Watson’s fault.

    2. What was the UN thinking? Getting a successful, intelligent, well-spoken, famous and successful woman to front their new campaign?

      Some people have no ethics.

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