Feminist students are asking Mila Kunis to turn down a Harvard award

Mila Kunis is being recognized as the Woman of the Year by Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals group. But some are asking Kunis to turn down the honor.

For almost 70 years, Hasty Pudding has awarded a Woman of the Year, with past recipients including Meryl Streep, Debbie Reynolds, Julia Roberts, Kerry Washington, Amy Poehler, and Octavia Spencer. But in 2018 — with the way that women have been unequally treated in society being challenged more than ever in Hollywood and beyond — feminist students are asking Kunis to not accept the award.

This request is based on the argument that Hasty Pudding Theatricals has outdated, sexist portrayals of women in their theatrical shows. Established in 1795, the group has been putting on burlesque-type comedy shows since 1844.

But the issue isn’t necessarily the bawdy content — it’s that only men are allowed to perform.

Rather than cast women, the group — which has had notable members such as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt along with actors Jack Lemmon and B.J. Novak — dresses men in drag to play the female parts. It’s Shakespearean but outdated, and several female students think the exclusion is sexist. With this in mind, they don’t think Kunis should accept the award.

But considering that a parade in Kunis’s honor is scheduled to occur at 2:45 p.m. ET on January 25th, their plea is most likely going to go unanswered.

As noted on Hasty Pudding’s website:

"[T]he show remains in its essence a no-holds-barred burlesque, with men playing both the male and female roles. Women are involved in all other aspects of the show, from technical staff, to the band, to authoring and producing the show."

Rashida Jones was one of those behind-the-scenes women when she attended Harvard. During a 2016 speech at Harvard, Jones called for the group to start incorporating women. When Poehler was Woman of the Year in 2015, she mocked Hasty Pudding Theatricals for not including women.

The Ivy League school has a long history of sexism, and 2018 is certainly the breaking point when it comes to gender equality. Kunis herself is an outspoken feminist. She wrote an essay for A Plus in 2016 about sexism in the workplace and, on January 20th, she stood by the side of fellow Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year recipient Scarlett Johansson as she delivered a speech during the 2018 Los Angeles Women’s March.

Women have auditioned to perform with Hasty Pudding Theatricals, but they are always cut.

"It would be a wonderful thing for her to not accept this award, to say this is gender inequality," Harvard senior Liz Kantor, who auditioned this year, said. "There are women on campus who are more than willing to take advantage of these opportunities, yet they're still being excluded."

As Kunis is scheduled to appear, the Bad Moms actor will be accepting her Woman of the Year award shortly. Knowing Kunis’s stance on gender equality, Harvard students can hope that Kunis will reprimand Hasty Pudding Theatricals for excluding women. But that probably won’t be enough for some feminists who are tired of the inequality.

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