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Helen Mirren's Commencement Speech Is A Feminist Dream

Helen Mirren Tulane

Our favorite Dame's commencement speech at Tulane slays: It's witty, a little bit raunchy and full of practical advice and feminist wisdom. In short, it's the type of speech we all need, whether you are graduating or just reflecting on the complicated, difficult and joyful ride that is life, especially life as a woman in the trump era. She shares her wisdom, gained from a rewarding life of risk-taking and at times brash choices, in a light-hearted and relatable way. “Like a hangover," she tells the graduates, "neither triumphs or disasters last forever. They both pass and a new day arrives and you just try to make that new day count.”

Her self-aware humor implicitly shows us how to be your best self. She opened the speech by telling the class, their families, and the faculty: “Today’s speech will contain advice for any of you born in England who decide to become Shakespearean actresses, and end up doing nude scenes in 10 films. I mentioned that just to see if any of your fathers are getting out their cell phones now to Google me. Dads. Stop. Inappropriate. Put it away. I mean the phone!”

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It is within this personable frame that she is able to drop some real truths, declaring her feminism and telling us all that regardless of our sex we should all be feminists. "I believed in the obvious," she stated, "that women were as capable and as energetic and as inspiring as men, but to join a movement called feminism just seemed too didactic, too political for me. However, I have come to understand that feminism is not an abstract idea but it’s a necessity if we — and really by ‘we,’ I mean you guys — are to move us forward and not backward into ignorance and fearful jealousy. So now, I am a declared feminist and I would encourage you to be the same." Adding an addendum to that rule, she only semi-joking states, “Never again allow a group of old, rich, white men to define the health care of a country."

For more gems — from the fact that a 3 am tweet is simply never a good idea to her repeated call to not procrastinate — watch the speech in its entirety and bask in the magic that is Dame Helen Mirren.

Top photo: Screenshot

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Miriam Mosher graduated from Smith College before moving to New York where she is a writer by day and beer maven by night. She is a proud feminist, a champion of the semicolon and an avid thrifter. See more from Miriam at Bushwick Daily and Two Cities Literary Review.  

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