Over a million people have watched model Amber Rose do the stride of pride in her “Walk of No Shame” video for Funny or Die. It’s not just Rose’s appearance in the comedy clip that has tongues wagging, though. Her erstwhile lover from the night before is Matt McGorry, an actor who is gaining a reputation online for his feminism just as much for his acting.
McGorry is best known for his roles as Asher Millstone on “How to Get Away with Murder” and prison guard John Bennett on “Orange Is the New Black.” In the “Walk of No Shame” video released on Sept. 15th, he only appears for a few seconds, chasing after Rose because she “forgot” to leave her phone number. When she makes it very clear that she didn’t forget anything, he’s is left standing, in boxers and a t-shirt, making his signature sad puppy dog face. (“OITNB” fans know exactly what we mean.) The punchline makes the point that sometimes women, too, just like to have sex with no strings attached.
And that’s still something with which American society struggles. Vicious slut-shaming Rose started almost immediately. People left comments like, “A hoebag is a hoebag,” and “She needs to take some pride in growing some hair i threw up in my mouth a lil when i saw her…..”
In response to comments like these, McGorry took to Facebook to defend Rose’s video and message. In return, she posted a screencap on her Instagram, saying, “This is why I needed @mattmcgorry to do this with me!”
The Funny or Die video wasn’t McGorry’s first time at the feminist video rodeo: In May, he appeared with Mic.com writer Elizabeth Plank for her weekly Flip the Script web series in a video about men who call themselves feminists:
It’s enough that ATTN lauds him as “a champion for women.” So just how did McGorry wind up become the Internet’s #1 feminist fanboy?
For him, it began with watching Emma Watson’s speech to the United Nations about seven months ago. In an essay written for Cosmopolitan.com earlier this month, the actor wrote, “I cried. And not just a little.” He goes on to compare becoming a feminist to falling in love. (Which is enough to inspire at least a little bit of love in return.)
McGorry has consistently used his social media platforms from Facebook to Instagram to Twitter to speak out about feminist issues such as wide-ranging as trans equality, sexual assault, #FreeTheNipple, and the wage gap.
(1) If you've been a victim of sexual assault, please know it's NEVER EVER your fault. No matter how you acted, what you wore or anything— Matt McGorry (@MattMcGorry) September 8, 2015
(2) else that someone tries to use to take blame away from the offender. The onus is NOT on the victim to prevent these acts.— Matt McGorry (@MattMcGorry) September 8, 2015
He’s been candid about his own process of education since that teary evening watching Watson. And maybe that’s the key to it, at least according to Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, the culture editor at Jezebel.com. She spoke with McGorry for an article during the publicity push for season three of “OITNB.” While a lot of their chat concerned the spoiler-free fate and character development of John Bennett, the discussion of guard-prisoner power dynamics led neatly into discussion about the actor’s ally efforts.
“There’s something so sincere and open-minded about him,” Shepherd told the Daily Dot in an interview. “Part of what makes him great is that he admits that he’s learning and that he doesn’t know everything.” She continued, “It doesn’t hurt that he’s a really attractive man who’s not afraid to look like an ass.”
That sense of humor stands out in the Funny or Die video but also in most of McGorry’s online interactions, whether he’s trying to educate other men on Facebook or responding to overzealous fans on Instagram. In the Jezebel piece, he identifies and acknowledges his target audience and his commitment:
“I have a unique position as a heterosexual white male, also, and there aren’t a lot who make this their thing, and this needs to be. The Emma Watson speech was huge, and now I’m, for lack of a better term, I’m balls-out.”
The attention he’s receiving is not without criticism, of course. In a piece entitled “Welcome To Feminism, Matt McGorry, Take A Seat,” TheFrisky.com writer Megan Reynolds wrote that she finds his embrace of feminism to be self-promotional rather than sincere. McGorry seems “disingenuous,” Reynolds wrote, noting that the best role for an ally of any social justice cause is to listen rather than speak. She continued:
“[T]here’s something about McGorry’s approach that hints at a desperate yearning for approval, a flailing jazz-hands-and-tap-dance plea to be noticed for coming around to the fact that men and women should be equal.”
Nevertheless, Shepherd admitted that McGorry won her over in part because of his willingness to be transparent with his learning process:
“Yeah, it’s refreshing—it seems like more people should do that; and it’s hard to do that. People are so quick to say that ‘that’s not feminist, that’s not feminist enough.’ It’s sort of opening minds and reminding people that we can allow people to have space to learn in feminism. It’s inspiring.”
As Shepherd concluded, “He’s just, like, a really good dude.” What’s not to love about that?
Photo via Funny or Die