In between wiping snot and grabbing tissues, you may not have realized how empowered male novelist Nicholas Sparks made you feel while watching his stories come to life. The public’s view of the author has unfortunately been tainted since he was accused of racism, homophobia and antisemitism by the ex-headmaster of a North Carolina school he co-founded in 2014. You may wonder: how can a man accused of such things be a feminist? Well, he is. And you didn’t even realize it until now. (By the way, he denied the claims and so did his lawyer, who is a gay, Jewish male.)
As a fan of his films and a feminist, I didn’t put the two together until I spoke with his latest leading lady and fellow Notebook stan, Teresa Palmer, who plays a witty, strong-willed med student in his latest Hollywood endeavor, The Choice. “Props to him,” she said, confidently, “He writes so beautifully for women. I remember that from The Notebook and Rachel McAdams’ character.” The overwhelming romance in the story may have led you to oversee Allie’s willingness to stand her ground, pursue her education and follow her dreams–with or without a man. Teresa explains how these details play into the bigger picture:
“The injustice of gender inequality is actually being brought to life. Celebrities are being more outspoken about our right to be paid equally to men and to have the same access to great opportunities at work the way men [do] and I think that’s really important. [Nicholas] is a feminist. [I know] from speaking to him. And in his movies, [there] is a woman in search of what her heart desires. Typically, it’s the women choosing out of the men. [They’re] these strong female characters and I love that about him.”
She went on to explain that he unfortunately doesn’t get nearly enough credit for being such a feminist-forward influence in pop culture. When I spoke to the man himself a few days later, I asked if he considered himself to be a feminist, and here’s what he said:
“We’re all fairly equal in terms of feelings and what we should get paid in jobs and access to different things. The emotions, how we handle the ups and downs of life, how our jobs and family impact our lives, I think men and women are more equal than different. I was fortunate. I had a great mom, a sister, I was married for a long, long time. I have daughters, my agent’s a female, my editor’s a female. I’m surrounded by strong, professional women all the time and to me that’s just a natural state. They’re all very human too, they have ups and downs like everyone. Once I capture a character’s voice, I [think]: ’How would this character react in this situation?’ Women in my life try to do the right thing most of the time, try to do the best they can. That’s what I try to capture. They’re not perfect, but there’s a part of them that’s striving to be better. They reflect the human condition.”
Makes sense now, right? Now go ask your man to build you that dream house while you continue to thrive.