In a new interview with The Evening Standard, Marion Cotillard explains that while she believes in fighting for women’s rights, she doesn’t “qualify” herself as a feminist. Instead she thinks the call for gender parity in the film industry “creates separation.” She clearly didn’t watch The Late Show With David Letterman, or at least missed the night that Aziz Ansari clarified the meaning of the word feminist by saying:
If you believe that men and women have equal rights, if someone asks if you’re feminist, you have to say yes because that is how words work. You can’t be like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m a doctor that primarily does diseases of the skin.’ Oh, so you’re a dermatologist? ‘Oh no, that’s way too aggressive of a word! No no not at all not at all.’
Cotillard goes on to explain, “Filmmaking is not about gender. You cannot ask a president in a festival like Cannes to have, like, five movies directed by women and five by men. For me it doesn’t create equality, it creates separation.”
It’s a similar sentiment to the controversial one Matt Damon expressed on Project Greenlight that all hiring should be colorblind and focused solely on talent. In their statements neither Damon nor Cotillard address the fact that report after report has found such bias in Hollywood hiring that even the ACLU has requested a federal investigation into the matter.
The good news, however, is that Cotillard’s disagreement with feminism may be solely a semantic one. She goes on to say:
We need to fight for women’s rights but I don’t want to separate women from men. We’re separated already because we’re not made the same and it’s the difference that creates this energy in creation and love. Sometimes in the word feminism there’s too much separation.
So her problem seems to be with the word itself, not with its tenants of equality. But as Joss Whedon learned after suggesting we simply change the word “feminist” to something less controversial, the female-focused word is designed to point out which group needs the most help at the moment not to assert that women should dominate men or exist separately from them.
And since Cotillard wants to fight for women’s rights, she’s still espousing feminist beliefs even if she rejects the term itself. Unless, of course, she’s cool with the fact that Hollywood actresses get less screen time, less money, fewer roles as they age, and ridiculously old love interests.
You can read the full interview over on The Evening Standard. It also touches on Cotillard’s relationship with the fashion industry and her upcoming role in Macbeth, although she likely won’t be getting quite as much attention for those quotes.