Leighton Meester: ‘All people should’ publicly self-identify as feminists


In the spring and summer of 2014, Leighton Meester starred in the Broadway revival of Of Mice and Men with Chris O’Dowd and James Franco. The show was well-received. One of the most interesting pieces of news to come out of it was this HuffPo essay that Leighton wrote about her character, the only woman in the play, identified only as Curly’s Wife. Leighton’s examination of her character reads as a feminist critique, and a well-researched one at that (she references letters written, decades ago, by John Steinbeck to an actress playing the part). I’ve always liked Leighton and wanted good things for her, and it’s always bothered me that Blake Lively came out of Gossip Girl with the bigger career/buzz. And you know what will help Leighton? The fact that she’s so smart and she’s thought about the politics of being a woman a little bit more than I like to cook, thus I cannot be a feminist.”

Wonder if Leighton Meester read Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting’s Redbook interview? The former Gossip Girl star is no stranger to the topic of feminism—after all, she wrote an op-ed piece for The Huffington Post over the summer titled “I’m Not a Tart: The Feminist Subtext of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.”

So when asked whether or not she considers herself a feminist during a recent interview with radio station B-93.7’s Broadway’s Electric Barnyard, Meester didn’t skip a breath before responding, “Yeah, it shouldn’t be some sort of sensational news item,” and added, “It’s something that I think all people should say about themselves.”

When she wasn’t discussing feminism, Meester answered a question that is probably on every Gossip Girl fan’s mind—is a reunion ever going to happen?! She was quick to answer this one, too, and unfortunately, her one-word reply was, “Nope.”

[From E! News]

Word. Leighton’s comments came just after the news cycle about Kaley Cuoco, so obviously, people are like “OMG Leighton is throwing shade at Kaley!” I don’t think Leighton is being that specific about it though and it’s not like Kaley is the only vapid fool saying dumb crap about feminism these days.

Anyway, I love Leighton. She’s very matter-of-fact and no-nonsense. She seems very cool.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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62 Responses to “Leighton Meester: ‘All people should’ publicly self-identify as feminists”

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  1. Lee says:

    Love her! She is never corny in her interviews and she’s very talented! Wish she had more recognition!

    • Kimmy says:

      I’ve been binge watching Gossip Girl on Netflix this holiday season and Leighton is easily the BEST part of the show. She’s a scene stealer and makes Lively look even more horrible of an actress.

    • kennedy says:

      Love her too.

      I hope Meester starts making movies that are a) widely seen and b) challenging and acclaimed. She has the chops – but she doesn’t pick her projects well. Maybe she could do what Sienna Miller is doing – work with acclaimed directors in bit parts and sooner or later they start talking to one another and you book a solid lead role with an acclaimed director in an acclaimed film.

    • Lia says:

      Agree with everything! I just love her! Wish her all the best.

  2. Renee says:

    I don’t know that much about Leighton Meester except that she is not the one to play. She took her own mother to court after she tried to scam money from her. This, and the essay that she wrote this summer that appeared on the Huffington Post website, made me admire her. It seems as though she has a resolve of steel.

    • Kitten says:

      Yeah she is a strong chick and pretty damn talented.

      On a superficial note, she looks absolutely gorgeous in these photos.

      Love her and Adam Brody together-such a cute couple.

      • Renee says:

        She is GORGEOUS. Full stop. And I was never an OC fan or that in Brody but I do like them together, they seem really happy.

      • Erinn says:

        THIS. All of it. She seems like such a sweet person, but definitely strong enough to get walked over. It’s a good combination of traits. And the mother was spending the money she was sending to help her younger brother because he had some kind of medical issues on freaking cosmetic procedures. I think she was trying to get the brother removed from the ‘mother’ as well.

        And I majorly ship the Adam and Leighton marriage. I actually adore both of them, and I was never really a watched of either of their main shows.

    • mememe says:

      Really? I know Leighton was born in prison. Her mama must be worse than Dina, but Leighton has enough sense to see her bs and distance herself.

      • Renee says:

        Don’t quote me on this but I think that both of her parents were drug dealers, and that’s why they were in jail. I think that she is straight-edge now as a result.

    • boredbrit says:

      Yeah, her mum used the money Leighton sent for her little brothers medical bills on plastic surgery for herself which is disturbing.

  3. Mrs. Darcy says:

    Love her, couldn’t agree more re: her and Blake. I think Leighton’s talent and smarts will win out in the end. Plus she married SETH COHEN! She wins at life, she’s a cool girl in Broadway plays. Blake’s big movies have flopped, she can’t act her way out of a paper bag. I foresee a lot of Redbook covers in her future.

    I think they just timed this to seem related to Cuoco. Kaley Cuoco’s comments were dim but in fairness her generation has been raised with a negative connotation of the word. I don’t think she even knows what it means, and she has retracted it. Not everyone is as smart as Leighton, Kaley rescues pitbulls so I can’t hate on her too much.

    • Lee says:

      Agreed! Blake needs to thank her PR team and the fact Anna Wintour loves her, otherwise no one woul remember her name at this stage! Leighton is way more talented, she’s a natural beauty, she’s smart and grounded! hope she will get all the success and recognition she deserves eventually!

    • Jegede says:

      The irony of Leighton fans attacking Blake, STILL, after all these years.

      And in a post about female identity, action & reaction in society’s construct. Funny

      (Oh and Leighton’s big movies have not flopped???)

      • Renee says:

        What are you talking about with Leighton’s movies bombing??? Country Strong was gold, I tell ya, GOLD!!!! That movie was so bad that I was dressed when I finished watching it. Seriously though, I don’t know what else she is in but I do like her. And I do feel that she is the more talented (and smarter) of the two and it is too bad that a certain level of success seems to have eluded her. Hopefully things will turn around for her soon.

      • Mrs. Darcy says:

        I’m not attacking Blake as a “Leighton fan”, even if I didn’t like Leighton I would still find Blake talentless and irksome, it’s just how I feel. I did always prefer Leighton to Blake on GG but enjoyed them both in their own way, on the show they worked together well. But has there ever really been any dispute as to who is the one with actual talent?

        It’s nothing to do with feminism, though if we must go down that road, Blake jumping on the happy housewife/domestic goddess train to sell a load of overpriced crap a la GOOP is not exactly pushing forward the female agenda in a meaningful way. Neither one has had much film success, though Blake has had way more hype around a few very small parts, and a much more aggressive pr team, whereas Leighton is taking it a bit more low key. I’m not a fan of Blake’s schtick, she is the one going out of her way to sell herself as a lifestyle doyenne before establishing a career beyond GG, so yes, I feel like I have a right to be irritated by her.

      • bettyrose says:

        Sigh. Yeah I agree. Leighton and Blake can both win at life. Female success does not/should not be measured in comparison to female peers.

      • Jegede says:

        @betty rose – Well said. I’m kinda irked with myself for even responding to it. Lesson learned.

        @Renee – LOL, that bad huh?

      • Kitten says:

        Yep I agree 100% with Jegede and Bettyrose.

        I like both of them and I don’t see why they are continuously compared and pitted against each other in some sort of make-believe catfight.

  4. Maria says:

    and what good would that actually do? we already have an inflation of the term and the trendy, soft feminism that Emma Watson started. what does it help when people say they are? it will only lead to peer pressure, then everyone will call themselves feminist and what has that achieved? i’d say as much as before with a devaluation of the term.

    thats just a narcisstic thing “oh look, i am this and that, but i never actually do something” how about calling people to ACT, Meester instead of only paying LIPSERVICE?

    feminism is such a broad topic, its stupid to call oneself “feminist” thats like saying “i wear socks”. yeah what kind of socks? what color? what kind of fabric?

    • Angela says:

      I don’t agree 100%, because it seems like Meester does take feminism seriously and I said a lot of similar things when I was younger, but I like what you’re saying here, Maria . Feminism is complex and it requires a lot of critical thinking. It shouldn’t be automatic, nor should it be compulsory. Feminism is about choices and equality for women, and it should not be used to shame people for how they personally identify.

    • jaye says:

      I hear what you’re saying, but isn’t Emma Watson and Leighton Meester talking about gender equality in it’s proper context instead of the “I love men, I don’t want to be a man, so I’m not a feminist”…that’s a good thing. Right?

      • fritanga says:

        No. Both women believe in the term in its purist form – that is, the idea that women should have political, social, and economic equality to men. In that sense, what Meester says is right: everyone, women AND men, with a brain and a sense of fairness and justice should call themselves feminists.

        Unfortunately, dumb people (ie, Kaley Cuoco) insist on using the word feminism as a synonym for lesbianism or man-hating, which is ridiculous. All those terms mean entirely different things.

        Wanting to be equal to everyone else is at the foundation of this country (although lately it really doesn’t seem as if that’s true).

  5. Ai says:

    Her album, Heartstrings, is very melow, mature acoustic pop music. She has a lovely voice and I hope she continues to do both acting and singing. She was the best of the GG cast and I too don’t get why she doesn’t get more buzz. Perhaps she still hasn’t had that break through role for her film career yet; anyways, I look forward to her works.

  6. Lama Bean says:

    And she married Adam Brody (???? OC dude) in such a quiet manner. I like him. Seems like a good guy.

  7. happymama says:

    You rock, Leighton. Thank you.

    • qwerty says:

      She’s great. And I wouldn’t say Blake Lively has a better career lol, she’s baking cupcakes and walking around in the silly clothes she sells on her website, trying to advertise them… Leighton will go much further than that, I’m sure.

  8. GildedCage says:

    All people should have a choice what they want to be, and not be pressured into identifying with something. I thought that was one of the goals of feminism, to give people choices.

    • Jegede says:

      My Thoughts Exactly!

    • cynthia says:

      Of course. But being a feminist is really something everyone (male as well) should be. It just means you believe in equal rights. So yes, people can also be free to be racist, but the statement “all people should be not racist” is still fine to say. Everyone should be a feminist- it doesn’t mean you can’t be a stay at home wife or mom.

      • Nina says:

        Right? To me saying “I don’t want to be a feminist, because I don’t want to be pressured into identifying with something/forced to choose a ‘label'” is like saying “I don’t want the negative connotation, but I do want the benefits”
        Why is it so hard to just say “I’m a feminist”?

      • tracking says:

        Well put, thank you. If you believe that men and women should have equal rights, you are a feminist. If you do not believe in equal rights for women, you are not a feminist. Simple.

        I appreciate any celebrity claiming the straightforward definition of the term, rejecting the negative baggage our patriarchal society has worked damned hard to attach to it!

    • Angela says:

      Feminist for most of my life here and I totally agree. Part of gaining equality for women is by showing respect for the way that other people identify, even if we don’t agree. Ten years ago, when feminism wasn’t so trendy, I wish people had shown me a little respect for strongly identifying as a feminist. Instead, I was bullied. I will never turn that kind of behavior back around on someone for not making the same choice as I do. I understand people not agreeing, but the vitriol and straight-up misogyny some people fling at women who do not identify as feminists saddens me. (I don’t think that’s what Leighton is doing here, though. I said many similar things about how everyone should be a feminist when I was younger. I don’t agree with her, but I respect her opinion because she is stating it neutrally without tearing another woman down.)

      • Otaku fairy says:

        “Ten years ago, when feminism wasn’t so trendy, I wish people had shown me a little respect for strongly identifying as a feminist. Instead, I was bullied. I will never turn that kind of behavior back around on someone for not making the same choice as I do. I understand people not agreeing, but the vitriol and straight-up misogyny some people fling at women who do not identify as feminists saddens me.”

        I’m sorry that you went through that. I haven’t personally had anyone be mean to me just for identifying as a feminist (this is probably because things are changing over time like you said).
        For some people, it’s when you get into the details that the meanness starts. A lot of people (including liberals) are fine with the idea of feminism when it’s just limited to things like the right to vote, the right to drive, equal pay for equal work, and the right to an education. But when you get into more social-related issues surrounding- like bodily autonomy, the way beauty standards are applied, bullying, sexuality, respectability politics and how they unfairly target marginalized people, victim-blaming, etc.- that’s when people just can’t deal and can’t handle the concept of equality, particularly when they’re catching criticism for participating in or condoning those other types of oppression.
        People need to realize that there are so many other ways to treat an entire group of people badly besides depriving them of voting rights, denying them an education, or actively participating in brutal violence against them.

        But yes, I think women who are public figures (and probably some men who are public figures too) face some vitriol and unfair scrutiny/judgment both for openly embracing and rejecting the feminist label.

    • JenniferJustice says:

      Exactly. The only thing “All People Should” do is not tell all people to do anything.

  9. olly says:

    Ah! This is the Leighton that was always lurking somewhere behind that Cobra Starship song. All is forgiven.

  10. Talie says:

    I admire the way she lives her life — quietly and on her own terms.

  11. Angie says:

    I don’t think her comments have anything to do with Kaley’s comments. I hate that the media is making this a woman vs woman thing for clickbait.

    I loved Leighton’s essay about Curly’s wife. Very thoughtful, insightful and well written. I’m happy to see her covered here.

  12. Amy says:

    Love and adore her to absolute pieces and wish the absolute best for her, don’t necessarilly agree with her but at least she managed to offer her opinion without condemning others or doing a ‘who’s got the bigger feminism?’ check.

  13. Mia4S says:

    Well answered. Straight forward, beyond reproach. I like her.

  14. Nina says:

    I love her to death. Loved her back in the GG days and love her now.

  15. Dingo says:

    Love her – She was really good as a guest star on House.

  16. Greek Chic says:

    I like her.She’s pretty and smart. I used to like Blake too until she started all this pr thing with Di Caprio and then the ” i am a house-wife,i bake cupcakes all the time” style with Reynolds. Nothing wrong with the cupcakes, i love them too but girl,please.

    • Lee says:

      + 1
      I guess that was the best strategy to rebuild her image after the naked pics…and it has worked so far, but don’t think it will on the long run.

      • Greek Chic says:

        Agree. I think Blake is pretty, has a nice body and hair and i like her style most of the time….but she has become boring. She used to be so sweet in her early GG days and wasn’t trying so hard. I liked her when she was a couple with Penn Badgley,she didn’t seem thirsty.

    • JenniferJustice says:

      I gave her the side-eye too when she, I mean SOMEONE, leaked her nude photos and she went into PR mode and hooked up with Leo I need a bath Decaprio. But she left him in the lurch and I kinda love her for that. Nobody leave stinky Leo, but she did! She probably takes long deep breaths of Ryan and sighs with relief.

  17. Mimz says:

    I like her. A lot. GG was her best role to me, and like someone said here i liked both hers and blakes roles in that show.
    I dont like the whole one is better than the other thing, i mean, when Blake was trying to do blockbusters she was booed. I personally didnt hate all of those performances, but i know shes not great. Girl still can use her status to build a different brand right, or are we expecting her to go study to be an accountant? At least shes making something out of it, selling clothes and other stuff that to me sound less pretentious than madam goop. I dont see anything wrong with her loving to bake and be a housewife.
    Leighton is amazing and she also didnt fare well in movies yet, maybe she needs to go back to tv. Or maybe she doesnt want to be a superstar and is happy doing broadway and singing. Thats OK too. Not every actor wants superstardom. I suppose this way she can keep her lowkey lifestyle.
    Ok now i want to go watch GG all over again and drool over Chuck Bass.

  18. mememe says:

    I can’t even think about her interview because that black and white dress is beautiful and so cool! Trying desperately to find a designer ID, even though I could never fit my tits into it even if I were able to afford it.

  19. Lucy says:

    I’ve only watched like three episodes of GG in my life but still, TEAM BLAIR!!!

  20. Little Darling says:

    If you like her you should definitely check out the movie Life Partners that is on VOD but was critically acclaimed. Very good piece.

  21. INeedANap says:

    Her HuffPo essay is fantastic. We had to read Of Mice and Men in high school and it’s something that always bothered me, that as the readers we were supposed to accept Curley’s Wife death as karma. Meester’s analysis is spot on.

  22. serena says:

    I wish her well too, she’s beautiful, smart and talented!

  23. lucy2 says:

    I don’t know that I’ve ever seen her in anything, but I like her answers in the interview. She seems like a smart and well adjusted person – a rarity in her business!

  24. RobN says:

    Pretty sure that telling people how they should self-identify misses the point of feminism, entirely.

    • perplexed says:

      I think Meester’s actual wording was less demanding than the headline. Both are kind of saying the same thing, but Meester’s choice of words, and hence tone, sounds softer.

  25. Misprounced Name Dropper says:

    “All people should publicly self-identify as feminists”

    The feminist movement in the west is white and middle-class and tends to overlook race and class based oppression. Therefore I prefer to publicly self-identify as a womanist.

  26. Lauren says:

    Always liked her. Better actress in GG than Blake, more relatable as a person and seems ‘real’.
    She and Adam Brody are a union between my two favorite TV show characters when I was a teen.

  27. kim says:

    This maybe out of the subject, but am I the only one who think a few celebrities are tarnishing the name of feminism? Oh women sould help the other women blah blah blah- I mean why do I have to put up with your lack of talent in the name of feminism. The word should mean a lot bigger than some rich actress’s daily hazard. Help the women who actually need help or shut up already.