Sexy Feminist: Zooey Deschanel

Some girls in the spotlight become more than the sum of their parts, and not in a good way. Zooey Deschanel is a prime example: Just by being her, she ignites extreme emotions, many of them unfavorable. She basically invented the idea of the “manic pixie dream girl,” the archetype of a woman who can change any young, repressed man with one stroke of her quirkiness. But the fact remains: She’s a stone cold feminist.

How do we know this? Let us count the ways, and they have nothing to do with those irresistible bangs and big blue eyes. First, her character on her sitcom New Girl is quietly revolutionary: She shows us that girls who are inherently as sweet and quirky as she is love sex and have plenty of it. During the current otherwise insufferably drawn-out flirtation her character, Jess, is experiencing with roommate/friend Nick, we’ve learned that she’s all about having tons of emotionally unattached sex with her current boyfriend. Yes, blue-eyed, aggressively-banged (ha-ha), ultra-feminine Jess has knock-down, meaningless sex with a dude. Score one for the Mary Richardses of the modern era.

Second, Deschanel is a solid, multi-faceted actress, going back as far as Almost Famous. How awesome is Almost Famous? How awesome is she in it? She’s the big sister we all wish we had. She also happens to be a rock star, literally, with the band She and Him, and to throw her weight behind a very feminist, very funny, yet unabashedly girlie, website called Hello Giggles. Roll your eyes all you want about how cutesy Deschanel is, but you have to admit: She’s more comfortable with the idea of femininity than anyone we know.


Author: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong grew up deep in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, then escaped to New York to live in a succession of very small apartments and write about pop culture. In the process, she became a feminist, a Buddhist, and the singer/guitarist in an amateur rock band. She also spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly, cofounded, and now writes for several publications, including Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Writer’s Digest, Fast Company, and New York‘s Vulture. Her history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2013; her collaboration with Heather Wood Rudulph, Sexy Feminism, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2013. She is the author of the Why? Because We Still Like You, a history of the original Mickey Mouse Club published by Grand Central in 2010. She has provided pop culture commentary for CNN, VH1, A&E, and ABC, and teaches article writing and creative writing. Follow her on Twitter: @jmkarmstrong


  1. Annette says:

    LOVE Zooey!

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