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Why Claire Foy hates the term “strong woman”

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Anna Brech
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We never feel the need to prefix men with the word “strong”, so why do we do so with women? Actors in Hollywood are calling time on what they regard as a lazy and undermining phrase

She may embody a series of fiercely independent female characters on-screen, but Claire Foy is not a fan of the term “strong woman”.

The actor plays the Queen in Netflix series The Crown, along with Lisbeth Salander in the upcoming adaptation of Stieg Larsson classic The Girl in the Spider’s Web and Janet Armstrong, wife of Neil Armstrong, in a new biopic about the moon walker.

“I have absolutely no interest in portraying what other people think of as strong. It’s a way of making women more acceptable in a male world, and I am just not on board with that,” she tells the Sydney Morning Herald, in an interview this weekend. 

“I don’t think women are crying out to see strong women; I think we know we are all strong but we’re just crying out to see women on screen at all!”

Foy is not the only star in Hollywood to have issues with the “strong woman” stereotype.

Emilia Clarke, who shot to fame as Daenerys Targaryen, the crusading Mother of Dragons in Game of Thrones, also has misgivings over the phrase.

“I want to tell you how it feels to play a woman. The end,” she said earlier this year. 

“Find another adjective, dammit! I’m just playing women. If it’s not strong, what is it? Are you telling me there’s a weak option? 

“A lead in a movie is going to be weak? It just doesn’t even bear having the conversation. So enough already with the ‘strong woman’ please.”

Emilia Clarke pays tribute to nurses

Emilia Clarke: “Find another adjective, dammit!”

Foy was among thousands of women who protested in support of Dr Christine Blasey Ford in Washington DC last month, after the professor testified that she had been sexually assaulted by Supreme Court judge (then nominee) Brett Kavanaugh. 

Foy, who was confronted by an anti #MeToo protester at the time, said she was fed up with women being criticised for getting angry or emotional over issues that mattered to them.

“Why does it have to be a bad thing?” she said. “I’m really tired of people being like, ‘Women are too emotional.’

“Maybe we need more emotion. Maybe we need more people fighting for what they believe in.”

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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