Actor and comedian Nick Offerman may have played the manliest of men and republican meat–lover Ron Swanson, in the soon-to-be cult classic sitcom, Parks and Recreation; But don’t be misguided by his character’s traditionally masculine attributes and overzealous obsession with woodwork and steak. Beneath all the toughness, is a feminist.
Throughout his prolific career, Offerman has proudly proclaimed himself an open supporter of gender equality, discussing his beliefs both on camera, in interviews, and in his best–selling novels, Paddle Your Own Canoe and Gumption.
Prior to his breakout role playing opposite SNL star, Amy Poehler, Offerman was instilled with values that placed men and women side by side. In an interview with The Daily Beast Offerman attributes his upbringing in a family “where the men and women are equal soldiers” for his feminist outlook. Proclaiming himself as a feminist, Offerman declared that from an early age he understood that whether it was cooking dinner or starting a bonfire, gender–related limitations held no place.
As the carpenter outdoors–man and reluctant government worker, Offerman’s character
branched off images like Al Bundy and Archie Bunker, but with one stark difference. Swanson was written as a feminist; a decision Offerman, a real–life feminist, supported whole–heartedly. During interviews promoting a duo comedy tour with his wife and fellow comedian, Megan Mullally, (fans may know her as Swanson’s vehemently hated ex–wife, Tammy Two) Offerman revealed that beneath his character’s manly exterior is a tolerant humanist.
“Ron Swanson, because of his simple rules for living, became a lot of peoples’ icon for their own aspirations of simple living,” Offerman explains in a feature with the AV Club. “And so anybody, from meat eaters, to scotch drinkers, to gun wielders, to libertarians all hold Ron up as their champion, but he was much more complex than that. He was a very outspoken feminist. He was a man of few words and people mistook that for a man of few colors.”
Much of Offerman’s character was based off his own life, specifically Swanson’s love of woodworking and fundamental values regarding equitability and equality between genders. Offerman has expressed his appreciation of Swanson’s feminism, citing the writers for making him a “great supporter and celebrator of women.”
Apart from Offerman’s successful seven–season run on Parks and Recreation and comedy tours, Offerman represents his feminism in many other avenues of his career, particularly in his semi–autobiographical bestseller, Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers. The novel is a sequel to Offerman’s first book, Paddle Your Own Canoe and follows the journey of 21 artists, politicians and other prominent figures who share, according to Offerman, a “general sense of American pluck.” While discussing Gumption with TIME, Offerman also reveals that his book touches upon a diverse and controversial set of topics, namely gay rights and the gender pay gap. At the heart of the novel, Offerman expresses his wish that society could “hamper the quest for decency.”
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