Alan Rickman’s Underrated Feminism

by Courtney Bissonette

As we raise our wands and mourn Alan Rickman, the man with the best menacing looks and “double-bass” voice around, we can rest assured that our favorite movie bad guy was actually a great guy and a huge advocate for women. In one of his last films, A Little Chaos,  which he also directed, Rickman created a world set in the French Revolution where a woman was the lead character in a time where women were often decorations. The lead character Sabine, played by Kate Winslet, is employed to design the garden at the Palace of Versailles. Sabine speaks her mind and is a strong feminist in a time where women’s corsets were too tight to breathe, let alone speak. There is also a great theme of gender swapping roles, throughout the entire film.  

During press for the film, Rickman talked extensively about his feminism, one of the driving forces for making the movie.

“There’s nothing wrong with a man being a feminist — I think it’s to our mutual advantage,” he told One Plus One.

He added, “That word, it’s such a label. I always think feminism just means common sense. You have a film where one of its last lines is, ‘What about us?’ ‘We will shape each other.’ You think, ‘Well, that sounds like a good idea.’ Is that feminism? I guess. And do I live in a world and certainly in a business that is incredible unfair to women—yes, I do. It’s sad that the situation still persists, I mean you still have women as decorative objects all over the media. I am the beneficiary of having a thinking, feeling, strong-minded, brilliant woman on the set.”

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Rickman’s views were definitely the effect of having strong women in his life. He was raised primarily by his mother after his father, like Rickman, died from cancer when Alan was just eight years old. Rickman referred to his mother as a “Tigress,” stating, “She could do anything, all those female things, sew, cook and clean, she took care of those things without even thinking about it because she had been trained by her mother. But she had to go out an work, she had various jobs, she got trained in various others, she always reinvented herself.  Nevermind history not talking about women, I think you can back to fairly recent history and say,’ Well, what would her life had been if she’d had a different education?'”

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Rickman also had a lifelong relationship with teenage sweetheart, and the two remained together for 50 years, from when Rickman was 19 until his death today at age 69. His wife, Rima Horton, is a politician who worked as a Labor party councilor for the Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council from 1986 to 2006. The two married in a private ceremony in New York in April of last year. 

“I think every relationship should be allowed to have its own rules. She’s tolerant. She’s incredibly tolerant. Unbelievably tolerant. Possibly a candidate for sainthood,” Rickman once told Hello!.

Rickman also often spoke about his female colleagues with great respect. Last year, he talked to BuzzFeed about working with Kate Winslet in A Little Chaos, 20 years after working together in Sense & Sensibility.

“She’s still the same great human being, but there’s a lot of life history with her now, and three children. She was 19 — you can write the story really: There’s a 19-year-old girl and here’s a 40-year-old woman with three children and all sorts of dear-diary entries. I am the beneficiary of having a thinking, feeling, strong-minded, brilliant woman on the set. All of those things were true then, but she was 19 years old,” he said.

In the same interview, he also called J.K. Rowling a “smart, strong-minded, brilliant woman.” As Daniel Radcliffe wrote today, there was nothing Snape-like about him.

Rest in peace, Alan. We will love you always. 

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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