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From Stripper to Politician: Q&A with Charlotte Laws on Feminism, Animal Activism, and Her Memoir, Undercover Debutante

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Society often tries to dictate personal behavior and personal choices even when an activity hurts no one. Society condemns those who don't conform to its moral code. It wants to label them immoral or mentally ill or inferior. I don't subscribe to this view and think people should be strong in their choices and do what makes them happy (as long as they don't hurt others), even if their choices deviate from societal norms.

Where I see blatant sexism is in the movies. Women are frequently written as bitches and as overly-emotional. And they are usually given a "character arc." This means a character starts out flawed and then comes to some kind of realization and changes for the better. But male leads are often written as perfect, as heroes, from start to finish. They are given only one flaw, which is not really a flaw. They are so dedicated to saving the world that they simply don't have time for their family. This is not really a flaw, of course. Saving the world is obviously more important than playing ball with your kids. There are plenty of examples and yes, Bruce Willis is one. There are many tough-guy-hero examples: from Liam Neeson to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Women are rarely cast as heroes.

It also bothers me that males in movies are almost always the instigators of relationships. Boy chases girl. This is sexist and makes women seem weak. It is unusual for a female lead to pursue the man and get him. This is why "Down with Love" and "Love in the Afternoon" are two of my favorite movies. In both, females pursue the love interest and prevail. This parallels my own life. I was never willing to play the romance game that casts men as hunters and women as prey. In fact, I invented the three-step persistence plan, as discussed in my book, to combat that mindset, to help assertive people who want to follow their heart rather than society's outmoded and misogynistic rules.

By the way, Hollywood is in the process of making a movie about my fight against revenge porn. Before the current producers got involved, I was approached by several people in the entertainment industry who told me that my story couldn't be a feature film because I'm a woman. Features are about men, they told me. They said part of the reason has to do with the foreign market, which frowns on strong female leads. They told me that movies about women are supposed to be on TV, specifically "on Lifetime, the woman's channel." They also said that my character would need a character arc because "no one wants to see a strong woman from start to finish." They said I need to be a housewife who springs into action. Housewife? I barely know how to cook a meal or clean a toilet!

Wow. I didn't realize some people still think this way! I wish we had time to explore this further, but unfortunately, we're out of time. Thank you for talking with me today and good luck with your book and movie.

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Kris Kelly is the founder and president of the Kris Kelly Foundation, which rescues animals from local shelters and finds them forever loving homes. She is also an actress, Director of Animal Welfare (DAW) for Pacific Palisades/Beverly Hills, and an (more...)
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From Stripper to Politician: Q&A with Charlotte Laws on Feminism, Animal Activism, and Her Memoir, Undercover Debutante

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