Poor Shailene Woodley – she’s got the wrong definition of feminism

Ugh. That’s all I can muster when some pop star or movie starlet professes she’s not a feminist because it’s about “hating men” or saying that feminists don’t need men, blah blah blah.

Shailene Woodley – the young actress who impressed critics with a sterling performance in Alexander Payne’s 2011 dramedy The Descendants – gave an interview with Time magazine’s Elaina Dockterman, who asked about the f-word. Woodley said:

“No because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance. With myself, I’m very in touch with my masculine side. And I’m 50 percent feminine and 50 percent masculine, same as I think a lot of us are. And I think that is important to note. And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn’t work either. We have to have a fine balance.

My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism. I don’t know how we as women expect men to respect us because we don’t even seem to respect each other. There’s so much jealousy, so much comparison and envy. And “This girl did this to me and that girl did that to me.” And it’s just so silly and heartbreaking in a way.”

I don’t think it’s bad if someone chooses not to identify as a feminist if one knows what feminism’s all about. Unfortunately, Wooldley’s gotten a messed up, archaic notion of feminism that is laughably out-of-date. Actually, I say laughably, but really, it would be laughable if it wasn’t still such a pervasive opinion – lots of folks who are afraid of feminism think that if one is a feminist, one must do away with masculinity, men, and female heterosexuality.

Woodley writes that she’s wary of feminism because of the idea of removing men from power and replacing them with women. Feminism isn’t about that at all – and I’m veering into mansplaining, so I’ll keep this brief, but feminism is about working against the societal machinery that makes it so hard for women to have access to power – we don’t want to insert women into positions of power – we want women to have a fair crack at attaining those goals – and yes, that’ll ultimately mean that a few less men will be able to call the shots, but we’re not talking about a gender coup where an army of feminists storm our halls of power and influence and throw the men out; instead, we’re looking for a shift in privilege and power.

If Woodley wants to sniff dismissively at feminism, then more power to her – that’s fine. She should just be sure that she knows what exactly she’s rejecting…

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