Inside the 'Future Is Feminist' Anthology, With Essays by Salma Hayek, Chelsea Handler, Mindy Kaling

Salma Hayek, Chelsea Handler, Mindy Kaling and Roxane Gay_Split - Getty - H 2019
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In the new anthology, hitting bookshelves Tuesday, famed essays penned by an array of Hollywood stars are featured to project "where feminism has been, where it is and where it’s going."

Feminine power is all the rage in both Tinseltown and society after the rise of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements sparked a revolution. Now female empowerment is also being celebrated by 21 writers, including several major Hollywood figures, in the new anthology, The Future is Feminist

In the volume from Chronicle Books, edited by Mallory Farrugia, personal essays from poets, essayists, activists, stars and professors explore culture, gender, race and class to "paint an intersectional portrait" of "where feminism has been, where it is and where it’s going." Throughout the essays, writers cover topics ranging from workplace harassment, cyberbullying and beauty culture to the "resting bitch face."

The compilation features essays from stars Chelsea Handler, Mindy Kaling and Salma Hayek and author Roxane Gay, who each offer their own perspectives on what it means to be a woman today. New York Times best-selling author Jessica Valenti, who penned an introduction to the compilation, explains that the book arrives at an "exciting" time for female empowerment. "Feminism has both the most power we’ve seen in decades and arguably the most work to do. What we do next could change everything for women. That’s part of why this anthology is so exciting — and so vital," she writes in the introduction. 

In December 2017, Hayek shared harrowing details of her dealings with disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein, with whom she worked during the making of her 2002 film Frida. The op-ed published by The New York Times"Harvey Weinstein is My Monster Too," is featured in The Future Is Feminist to offer support for those who have endured sexual assault and harassment while feeling powerless against their perpetrators.

"I hid from the responsibility to speak out with the excuse that enough people were already involved in shining a light on my monster. I didn’t consider my voice important, nor did I think it would make a difference," Hayek writes. "In his eyes, I was not an artist. I wasn’t even a person. I was a thing: not a nobody, but a body." 

Gay’s 2014 essay "Not Here to Make Friends," which was originally published on Buzzfeed, is also included in the anthology. The essay explores the idea of girls being categorized as a "problem," if they project qualities that make them "unlikeable" to others. Throughout her essay, Gay analyzes various characters from popular books and films including Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, Charlize Theron's film Young Adult, Christian Bale in American Psycho, among others who are considered unlikable simply because they behave in ways that the audience doesn't consider palpable. 

"Why is likability even a question? Why are we so concerned with, whether in fact or fiction, someone is likable?" Gay questions, as she argues that "likability is a very elaborate lie" and a "performance, a code of conduct dictating the proper way to be." 

Handler's 2016 essay "We Have a Problem With Women Supporting Women," which was originally published on Thrive Globalis also included. In her featured essay, Handler encourages women to rally together after enduring Hillary Clinton's presidential election loss. 

"We can wake up America and American women to do a better job going forward; to create an activist fire under women to start treating other women and our America with more respect than we have obsequiously shown for our traditional male dominators," she writes. 

Meanwhile, Kaling’s 2014 essay "Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who Do Not Exist," from her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) explores the feminine tropes commonly displayed in romantic comedies, including female characters that can be described as "the ethereal weirdo," "the woman who is obsessed with her career and is no fun at all," "the forty-two-year-old mother of the thirty-year-old male lead" and "the skinny woman who is beautiful and toned but also gluttonous and disgusting." 

"I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world," the comedian explains before furthering her analysis of the genre. 

With various narratives featured, Valenti notes that the book serves as an "incredible gift to the movement" existing in today's society. "The speed with which we can move from space to space, article to activism, has been an incredible mobilizer for a new generation of feminists," she writes. "What we read and watch online tells a story, to be sure, but only the one we’ve created for ourselves. The wondrous thing about anthologies — this one in particular — is the story they tell."

She further writes: “The Future Is Feminist forms a cohesive narrative about feminism, politics, gender, and power. And it’s a story that we all need to hear.... This tremendous story is by no means one singular narrative. The diversity of voices highlights one of the most important theories of feminism: that true feminism is intersectional, interlocking and forward-thinking."

Valenti adds, "We have the ideas, the energy, and the voices to bring feminism where it needs to be. They're all here, on the page. Waiting for us." 

The Future Is Feminist is available now.