Opinions are author’s own
She’s known on Twitter for her strong opinions on feminism and rights issues. Yet, despite the barrage of hate she receives on a daily basis, Australian actress Caitlin Stasey is taking it to a whole new level. Known for her roles in Reign and Tomorrow When the War Began, Stasey has leant her voice to bring attention to women’s rights injustices. Stasey often mocks people who don’t believe feminism is necessary. She has now furthered the reach of her voice with the launch of her website Herself, which debuted on January 10th.
The website features interviews with nine women, who discuss their coming of age in regards to; their sexuality, their gender, and their views on women’s issues. All the interviews were conducted by Caitlin Stasey, and she does not leave any stone unturned. Her interview topics include whether the subject had a religious upbringing, discovering their sexuality, and their relationships with people based upon that. To in depth questions such as, gender identification, and the fears they’ve surrounding this. To topical questions about abortion and contraceptives.
Casey Calvert, one of the interview subjects, talks about her navigation of puberty and being afraid of her preferences until she was adult, “I spent the majority of my life being ashamed of my sexuality. The fact that I fantasized about BDSM was my deep dark secret. The few times I dared tell my friends in adolescence ended in disaster. I didn’t stop feeling ashamed until I was 21, and decided to start exploring it, rather than hiding it.”
Traditionally, women’s rights have been debated by men, and for many Herself is a refreshing change to that. There is the sense that anyone, who is a woman and a feminist, can read through the interviews feeling completely free of judgement. As the interviewees are completely honest, readers find things many things that relate to them. In an interview with Daily Life, Stasey reveals that this was her intention, stating, “Society very cleverly and insidiously compartmentalizes and pigeonholes women, and we are so often isolated because of it. I hope more than anything that women will come to Herself.com and find themselves there, scattered throughout the stories and bodies of others.”
It’s all about representation, and Stasey is providing that with Herself. She has chosen people from completely different backgrounds; some from Rio de Janeiro, others from Canada, some identify themselves as Christian and others brought up as Jewish. In her own interview Stasey talks about representation in regards to the LGBTQIA community in mass media and entertainment; “There was no one in my life who also expressed these desires, no one in the entertainment I consumed, the books I would read, the company I kept…It’s the single reason I’m so adamant that LGBTQIA characters be involved in children’s entertainment.” The idea behind this belief can very well be applicable to Stasey’s launching of Herself.
Continuing with the theme of baring all and representation, Stasey photographed interviewees completely nude. Although technically defined as NSFW, the work is not presented in a pornographic or sexual sense. It is not intended to do anything but illustrate the point, that all women are different, they have different body shapes and different upbringings, but they are all women, and they should be treated equal no matter what. It’s different from the endless magazine covers depicting women in various states of undress, because there is nothing to sell; there is no photoshop or cover ups. These women are pictured how they are.
There has been a large amount of backlash towards the launching of Herself, particularly in regards to comments made by Stasey. The 24 year old states, “I’ve known I was mostly gay ever since I can remember. I know it troubles many people for me to refer to myself as a lesbian considering I have a male partner.” It seems that some news organisations are stuck on this point, missing the whole message of the website, being that you can’t just fit people into boxes. This might be because Stasey personally attacked the women of the Daily Mail. In her Herself interview, regarding negative relationships, Stasey stated, “The women I’ve encountered who attempt to discredit feminism, to tear one another down – basically any woman working for the dailymail, newscorp or TMZ.” This statement could be interpreted to doing just that, tearing them down because of the organisation they choose to work for.
Despite some flaws in her argument, Caitlin Stasey has provided an easily accessible platform for women, of all backgrounds, to assist the exploration and discovery of themselves. Herself is a well rounded and representative website, intended to help boost confidence and conversation about women’s issues that some may feel uncomfortable voicing with others in real life. It will give women like Casey Calvert somewhere to turn to so that they don’t feel alone and weird.
Originally published here in 2015