5 Times Matt McGorry Was a Champion for Women

September 4th 2015

"Orange is the New Black" star Matt McGorry has made headlines many times since the explosively popular Netflix series debuted two years ago, and lately, he has been recognized for his tireless dedication to feminism. As ATTN: noted last month when McGorry defended the #BlackLivesMatter movement on social media, his "Orange is the New Black" character John Bennett is a moral disappointment in season three, but McGorry is not afraid to stick up for what's right in real life.

That's why it's no surprise that he just published a new article in Cosmopolitan magazine about his unwavering commitment to feminism and why it's so important to fight for gender equality in his position of power. Prior to writing this essay, McGorry stood up for women many times on his various social media platforms, and fans and well-known feminists such as Mic senior editor Elizabeth Plank have taken notice. Here are five moving examples of when McGorry championed women.

1. He wrote a piece on feminism for Cosmopolitan.

McGorry opens the piece by confessing he wept after watching Emma Watson's speech about gender equality at the United Nations last year. He goes on to explain that he'd never been embarrassed about crying, as his family didn't raise him to believe that men aren't allowed to show emotion or sensitivity.

"My parents never told me to 'man up'; if anything, they taught me that expressing vulnerability is braver than putting on a stoic front — the alternative response so highly prized by male culture. I was taught that my insecurities, my fears, and my hurt were best shared with the people around me, rather than locked away in a box built of faux toughness. Unfortunately, I don't know that most men were taught these same beliefs. And this is part of the flip side of feminism and gender equality that benefits men as well as women: The notion of men being 'strong' and therefore unable to admit to having 'weaker' emotions is incredibly damaging. I hurt for all the boys and men who stuff away their feelings because they believe that this is the way to be a man."

The actor also recognizes in his piece that he comes from a privileged place as a white male when he sticks up for women and #BlackLivesMatter.

"Even now, I acknowledge that my own privilege affords me the luxury of this cushy and positive outlook on fighting inequalities and injustices," he wrote. "I have the choice to confront these issues — they aren't implicit in my life due to my gender, the color of my skin, my sexual preference, or any other parts of who I am as a person."

2. He repeatedly applauded Emma Watson on Instagram.

Before the Cosmo article, McGorry posted two Instagram photos in support of Watson's gender equality organization, HeForShe:

3. He supported #FreetheNipple.

Over the past year and a half, men and women alike have taken a stand against Instagram's double standard against female nipples through the #FreetheNipple movement.

Model Chrissy Teigen and singer Miley Cyrus have had photos removed from the social media platform for revealing their nipples, so last month, McGorry reimagined the #FreetheNipple trend of Photoshopping male nipples over female ones by Photoshopping Cyrus and Teigen's nipples over his own in an Instagram shot:

"This is a photo of me from my bodybuilding years, circa 2010," he wrote. "And these are the nipples of @mileycyrus and @chrissyteigen (I hope you don't mind me borrowing them!) from their Instagram posts that were removed due to the dangerousness of their visible female nips ... The banning of women's nipples may sound normal or even inconsequential as you think, 'well, women's nipples are more sexual than men's nipples'. But that’s not some scientific fact. It’s because of how our society so heavily sexualizes women. And it should be up to the individual woman to decide if she wants to show them, just like men have the choice."

4. He defied gender stereotypes on Mic's "Flip the Script."


Earlier this year, Mic senior editor and noted feminist Elizabeth Plank caught up with McGorry in Southern California for an episode of her show "Flip the Script." In the clip, Plank explains to viewers that McGorry used to be a bodybuilder and observes that it's interesting that someone with a hyper-masculine background can be a feminist.

"You play a man's man on television, but in your free time, you read [Sheryl Sandberg's] 'Lean In,'" Plank says. "Don't you feel like you're lying to your fans?"

"I think that ... having some traits that are traditionally masculine doesn't exclude me from wanting gender equality," he says. "I don't think they're mutually exclusive things ... I think it benefits everyone [to be feminist]."

5. He highlighted the importance of consent.

Earlier this week, the White House released a video featuring many celebrities, including McGorry, called "It's On Us: One Thing." The "one thing" McGorry, Minka Kelly, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, the band HAIM, and Josh Hutcherson are talking about is consensual sex.

The video is part of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden's "It's On Us" campaign that aims to end sexual assault on college campuses. According to a 2007 U.S. Department of Justice study, 1 in 5 undergraduate women experience an attempted or completed sexual assault while they're in college.

It's important that the president, McGorry, and other public figures are stressing the necessity of consent, as not everyone in power chooses to tackle the problem of sexual assault. Earlier this year, Inside Higher Ed released its fifth annual Survey of College and University Presidents, which revealed that a third of college presidents acknowledge that campus sexual assault is prevalent in the American college system. Just 6 percent of the surveyed college presidents, however, believe sexual assault is prevalent on their own campuses.

"'It’s On Us' recognizes that the solution to sexual assault begins with all of us," a White House release states. "It seeks to reframe the conversation surrounding sexual assault in a way that inspires everyone to see it as his or her responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it."

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