Orange Is The New Black’s Matt McGorry Speaks The Truth About Feminism

by Isabel Bartholomew

In an interview with Jezebel, baby-faced OITNB actor Matt McGorry discusses feminism, something he has spent the last couple of years learning (and tweeting) about. “For lack of a better term, I’m balls-out,” he says.

He tells Jezebel that we need to make it “okay for people to fuck up” when talking about feminism and intersectionality, particularly in conversation with people who are new to these social justice issues. “It’s this dangerous, slippery slope where, sometimes if you aren’t an expert, people want to crucify you, you know?” he says.

Being afraid of being “crucified” by others for engaging in a discussion leads to people “locking up,” according to McGorry, and he’s absolutely right. It’s easy to shy away from productive conversation when you’re worried about putting your well-intentioned foot in your mouth. But what does this accomplish? Without a dialogue, who gets anywhere?

As a white, hetero male and a public figure, McGorry wants to be useful and accessible. “I’m trying to incorporate an easy way in for those people that don’t know a lot about [feminism],” McGorry says. “Who actually have good intentions.” There’s viable criticism for “entry-level” feminist texts (McGorry mentions Lean In and Emma Watson’s UN speech), and yet they serve as a jumping-off point. And everyone—everyone—needs a jumping-off point when they’re learning new things about an issue.

“I wanted [my Caitlyn Jenner tweet] to be a teachable, bite-sized thing that people can share and digest and it’s the least ostracizing, most inclusive of the people who have the greatest potential to be converted,” McGorry says. He gets that while not all feminists—or people interested in feminism—are “perfect” in their politics (intersectional enough, or otherwise), they’re on the right track, and they want to learn and grow.

To make real progress, we need everyone to feel that feminism is accessible, and we need room to fuck up sometimes. “I think we need to be forgiving,” McGorry says.

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