hollywood sexism

Why ‘Strong Woman’ Is a Bad Compliment

Carey Mulligan.
Carey Mulligan. Photo: Walter McBride/Getty Images

British actress Carey Mulligan will star in the forthcoming feature film on the struggle to get women the right to vote, Suffragette, and, unsurprisingly, interviews surrounding her role have leaned heavily on what gender progress we’ve made since then. In a cover story for Elle U.K., Mulligan says that she’s exasperated when actresses are congratulated for playing “strong women.”

“You don’t say to men: ‘You played another really strong man,’” she explained. “The idea that women are inherently weak — and we’ve identified the few strong ones to tell stories about — is mad.” Though Mulligan is the cover star of Elle’s annual feminism issue (out in November), she says that she does not believe that the world would be better if it were run by women. “The answer is no,” she said. “I think it would be a better world if it were run equally — we’re still so far from that.”

Mulligan joins the ranks with Ellen Page, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore, and many others in the club of Actresses Calling Attention to Everyday Sexism.

Why ‘Strong Woman’ Is a Bad Compliment