In M.G. Lord’s new book, The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted By Her Beauty to Notice, we explore, from a different perspective, the life of Elizabeth Taylor. Beneath the beauty and sexy sultriness is another kind of woman. A woman whose roles in her movies mirrored aspects seldom shown in beautiful women: independence, toughness, and the willingness to take on unpopular causes.
From her first big role in National Velvet to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and through all the roles in between, we can see the iconic Taylor inhabiting those parts that take on social injustice, as well as roles that showcase independence, rebellion, and, yes, feminism.
While Taylor would not have described herself as a feminist, according to those who knew her, she was definitely unafraid, independent, and a champion of unpopular social causes. All the qualities that could define a feminist.
From the first chapter to the very end, the author deconstructs the movies that made up Taylor’s career, and illustrates for the reader how each role could be construed as a “feminist” one.
Probably the most “conscious” gift the actress left behind, as part of her legacy, was her fight to fund research and treatment for HIV/AIDS. Like no other role in her life or in her movies, this role in real life was one that showed her true spirit.