The new generation of #WomenWhoDare are those who refuse to conform. They dare to do the impossible, encouraging young visionaries to break—not just push—boundaries, inspiring people worldwide to fight for what they believe in. Here, we kick off our 2017 Women Who Dare series with the formidable Chelsea Handler.
The first thing I notice when I walk into Chelsea Handler's Los Angeles office is a framed email exchange between the comedian and Gloria Steinem.
Dated April, 2017, after the pair appeared onstage together at the live conversation series, TimesTalks, Handler thanks Steinem for "always showing up". In her reply, the feminist icon wastes no time pointing out the extraordinary chutzpah that Handler possesses. "You prove that women don't have to be sexiest Thatchers to be politically powerful, or imprisoned by racial and class lines, or anything we don't fucking well want to be," Steinem writes.
For Handler—who last month revealed she is ending her eponymous Netflix talk show to pursue political activism—the exchange is proof of what women can achieve when they show up for each other.
"We have to get better at being there for each other," explains the comedian, who chose to focus on female friendship for her BAZAAR.com Women Who Dare video shoot. "You don't have to be best friends with women you don't like, but you do have to be a sister to them."
"You don't have to be best friends with women you don't like, but you do have to be a sister to them."
Starting next year, Handler will work alongside Emily's List to begin campaigning "for candidates who are fighting for women's rights" to ensure more women are elected into public office. Her goal, she tells me, is to be better informed, to begin to understand the nation's political divide and to "participate in a more meaningful way." But she also hopes to teach women that we're better united; that supporting each other is something we should all aspire to achieve in 2018.
"You have to stick your neck out for every group that's being marginalized right now," says Handler. "You have to really dive deep and to try to understand people who aren't like you, who haven't had the same life experience that you have had: every refugee, every immigrant, every single working mother, everyone who doesn't have access to health care, every single person who's unemployed and struggles. You have to really get to know what's going on around you. For me, to be daring means to really look outside of myself."
Chelsea Handler Answers Tough Questions on Female Friendship for BAZAAR.com's "Therapy Sessions":
Handler admits she is someone who has never had to struggle for anything, and confesses that events in the wake of Trump's election have been an eye-opener. "I never thought about struggles that everybody endures on a daily basis if you're a minority in this country, if you're a woman," she says. "I lucked the fuck out with my life. I mean, I work really hard but I never had to struggle. I never was going to go hungry. I never felt discriminated against."
Handler, who will soon start working on a documentary with Netflix to highlight the stories of marginalized Americans, also stresses the importance of liberating yourself from other people's opinions—something she continues to work on herself. That, she says, is the true essence of daring.
"This election is a result of what happens when you don't show up and when you don't use your voice."
"I know what it feels like to feel not good about yourself or look at what people are writing about you, I'm not immune to it, but it's not worthwhile. It's certainly not meaningful," she explains. "It doesn't give me a lot of meaning to sit around and read what people are writing about me. Free yourself of that because your life is about the imprint that you're making. Use your voice. Be vocal. Women fought for us for years, and years, and years, so that we would have the rights that we do. Not using your voice is an assault on them and what they did for us. The results of this election is a result of what happens when you don't show up and when you don't use your voice. If you're happy with the way things are, then great, but I can't imagine that anyone who's bringing a child into this world would be happy with this situation."