From mocking Hollywood’s sexist interview protocols to raging against gender norms and female beauty standards, Kristen Stewart is cementing herself as the (unlikely) feminist hero Gotham deserves. It’s an unlikely role for the ultra-famous star who cut her fangs at 17 on the infamous Twilight series, playing one of modern cinema’s palest, most retrograde teenage heroines. As Bella Swan, Stewart took the devoted, self-sacrificing girlfriend trope to the next level, pledging her undying love to a vampire whose idea of a successful date night was one in which he could French kiss his fiancée without accidentally drinking all her blood.
Luckily, Stewart’s Swan days (as well as her real-life relationship with Twilight’s Robert Pattinson) are in her rearview mirror. Ever since the beloved couple split in 2013, Kristen has been living up to her badass potential; in her own words, “I lit my universe on fire, and I watched it burn.”
Stewart’s dramatic phrasing is hardly an exaggeration. In 2012, Us magazine released photos of Stewart lip-locked with her married Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders. The affair overtook the hearts, minds, and Tumblr accounts of a legion of Twihards, who couldn’t believe that Bella Swan would ever be unfaithful to Edward Cullen. Stewart’s gut-wrenching apology to Pattinson—“...I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry”—revealed Stewart as a true Hollywood rarity: an authentic, courageously exposed woman making honest mistakes in real time.
But while the Internet might know Stewart exclusively as either the luckiest immortal ever or a mortal unlucky in love, the star is fighting not to be defined by her romantic relationships—with men or women. Let’s call it the Ariana Grande School of Feminism. In her cover story for Nylon’s September issue, Stewart finally addressed her rumored bisexuality. Her answer, halfway between an apathetic admittance and a middle finger, critiqued rigid categories of sexuality through Stewart’s trademark self-effacing sass.
The media storm started when a Mirror reporter effectively tricked Kristen’s mother, Jules Stewart, into admitting that “I’ve met Kristen’s new girlfriend, I like her,” and that “I accept my daughter loves women and men.” With that one casual remark, Stewart’s relationship with Alicia Cargile, a visual effects producer, was elevated from idle gossip to breaking news.
Now, in addition to enduring the ceaseless tabloid coverage that targets not only Stewart, but her entire network of family and friends, the actress is being pressured to “confirm” her sexuality. Stewart’s badass response? “Google me, I’m not hiding.”
The American Ultra star continued, “I am an actress, man. I live in the fucking ambiguity of this life and I love it. I don’t feel like it would be true for me to be like, ‘I’m coming out!’ No, I do a job. Until I decide that I’m starting a foundation or that I have some perspective or opinion that other people should be receiving… I don’t.” Stewart’s non-coming out is characteristic of the star, who’s public about her need for a private life, and self-assured enough not to reveal everything to her rabid fans.
In an earlier interview for Marie Claire, Stewart mused, “Women are always saying they are sorry. We have that innate desire to please… Lately I’ve been doing less of the [assumes whiny cry voice] ‘I’m soooo sorry.’ And more of the [drops several octaves] ‘No. Fuck. Jesus.’” Stewart, who proceeded to list the “operative words” of acceptable femininity as “accessible, easy, and uncomplicated,” isn’t just robbing the world of a juicy sound bite with her not-so-standard “revelation”—she’s also insisting on living her life and disclosing on her own terms, unapologetically.
In addition to acting as a role model for badly behaved (read: unabashedly independent) women in the public eye, Stewart’s Nylon interview adds her to a growing list of celebrities who are condemning old-school, rigid labels of sexuality. Stewart isn’t just personally refusing to “come out”—she’s raising a perfectly arched eyebrow at the entire ritual of declaring, and being defined by, one’s sexual affinity. In the wake of fellow girlfriend-and-boyfriend-having Miley Cyrus’ statement that, “I don’t relate to being boy or girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to boy or girl,” Stewart reinforces this emphasis on fluidity and label aversion, explaining, “I think in three or four years, there are going to be a whole lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight. It’s like, just do your thing.”
Instead of grossly chalking this all up to a wild millennial moment, or God forbid, a fluid sexuality/gender queer “trend,” here’s hoping that stars like Stewart and Cyrus are helping to actually dismantle artificial binaries. In a world where punishing labels and expectations are threatening the lives of so many whose genders or sexualities refuse to conform, a renegade celebrity can be a valuable and inspiring thing. Stewart, who counts radical ladies Joan Jett and Patti Smith among her fans, further cemented her female rebel status by questioning, “Is your main goal in life to be desired? That is boring as fuck.”
Boring is the last way we’d describe you, KStew.