Busy Philipps on Empathy, Consent and Empowerment in Male-Dominated Industries
Busy Philipps Wants to Help Men Have a Better Grasp on Women’s Issues in 2020
Busy Philipps took Hollywood by storm with notable roles on teenage dramedies “Freaks and Geeks” and “Dawson’s Creek.” However, it wasn’t until the actress utilized her various social media accounts that she shifted out of that onscreen best friend persona into this multifaceted woman with a lot to share with the world.
Growing her following to over two million (and counting) paved the way for Philipps to host her own talk show, release a memoir and use her platforms as an activist for many causes. A vocal proponent of equal rights, she’s spoken out about her sexual traumas, abortions and many other challenges that women deal with but might be too scared to talk about publicly.
Just recently, Philipps worked alongside Katie Couric, Lilly Singh, Taraji P. Henson and Nicole Stott as part of an empowering all-female cast for Olay’s Super Bowl commercial back in January, which now has over 12 million views online.
We at AskMen took that as the perfect opportunity to catch up with Philipps, eager to see what she could teach us as men in order to have a much better understanding of women’s issues in 2020.
On How to Be More Empathetic to the Opposite Sex
Guys have trouble truly understanding aspects of a woman’s life like menstruation, pregnancies and abortions simply because they aren’t able to experience it. Different human beings, different physiology, right?
Well, if you’re completely clueless when it comes to getting in touch with your feminine side, Philipps has some good advice on how to get a feel for being in the shoes of our female partners.
“Trying to really be aware of your partner’s experience in life is incredibly valuable,” she says. “For a period of time, shutdown your needs and desires, and really critically think about theirs.”
Men will never know what it’s actually like to carry another life in their stomach for nine grueling months, but talking to our partners to hear about their perspective can really help build empathy in a relationship.
“Some people are more inclined to have a greater ability to access empathy naturally and some people need to work on skills to cultivate more empathy,” notes Philipps. “In my experience, it’s a character trait that sometimes men have more difficulty accessing.”
On How Can Men Be Better Allies
For better or worse, men have had the upper hand in several aspects of day-to-day life that women were unfairly left out on. Now, things are beginning to even out and as women fight for equal rights, they could use some help. This movement is one that has the ability to make strides if both sexes are on the same side.
“Men have a huge part in working towards equality and gender parity because they have, in many industries, held the majority for so long,” says Philipps. “Think about the issues that could affect your sisters, your mothers, your daughters, your cousins, aunts and all of the people in your life that are not men. Making sure that pay equality is something that’s a priority. Making sure that when you’re voting, you’re taking into consideration whether women’s rights and equal pay is important to the people you’re voting for.”
On How Topics of Sex and Consent Can Run Smoother
Philipps does not run from her past sexual traumas – one of which was an incident where a makeout session turned into unwanted sex – and while it took her a long time to speak out, nowadays, she’s extremely vocal when it comes to the topic of consent. Despite feeling unwanted pressure to have sex in different situations, women are not always comfortable to speak up in fear of resulting retaliation. Philipps suggests teaching the topic of consent from a younger age so that if/when these situations arise, people have the right tools to communicate through it.
“The responsibility is on everyone: parents, women, men, boys, girls … to really be open and talking from an earlier age than you think,” she says. “Talking about what consent is and what it means.”
A great way to think about these conversations, according to Philipps, is thinking about how’d you approach ordering pizza with your pal.
“You wouldn’t just call up and order a pizza based solely on what you like; you’d discuss it together,” she notes. “That way, things get discussed and decided upon before you get into a tricky situation. Communication is key for all of this stuff and don’t be afraid to speak about it.”
On How We Can Be Less Judgmental About Body Types
Everyone’s a critic these days when it comes to evaluating and commenting on the bodies of others without being asked, but Philipps has a way for us to get past this.
“Here’s what I think people miss in the whole body shaming discussion: It doesn’t matter what your opinion about someone else’s body is, so you can just use that as a baseline,” says Philipps. “Whether you think it looks good, whether you think it looks bad, whether you think they lost five pounds, gained five pounds … it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to ever comment on someone’s body; just keep it in your head. It’s just a body. There is no ideal body. The less that people talk about bodies in the media and around them in general, the less we’ll attach to the importance of those.”
On the Message Behind Olay’s #MakeSpaceForWomen Campaign
For a second year in a row, Olay ran a commercial during the male-dominated broadcast of the Super Bowl. The idea behind it? To encourage and empower women to move into some industries that are traditionally controlled by dudes.
“This year, they were inspired by the first all-female space walk that occurred last year and our message is let’s try to make space for women across all industries,” says Philipps. “We’re focusing on female empowerment, specifically encouraging girls to code. For every person that uses the hashtag #MakeSpaceForWomen, Olay will donate $1 to an organization called Girl to Code. We had a great time doing it with a great cast with Katie Couric, Lily Singh and others. Go check it out.”
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