This might be the first time that I’ve ever publicly or out loud identified as feminist because I tend to be of the mindset that you ought to live your creed rather than announce it. Probably that’s somewhat at odds with wanting to be a writer, but that’s why I intended to go into comedy, so I could be the jester holding up the mirror to society without actually having to address the problem head on.
However, when I read the Time article about Shailene Woodley not considering herself a feminist, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Hard. So here’s what I wish I could say to her:
I’m in no way the model feminist, and I admit it feels wrong to even skirt around the idea of judging someone for their beliefs. But if we’re going to crucify Donald Sterling for racism, why can’t we take a moment to glance respectfully at the way we treat feminism?
Firstly, despite the name, feminism does not want to “raise women to power,” and, “take the men away from the power.” (I believe you are thinking of radical matriarchy.) Nor does it preclude you from loving men. I’m not sure why anyone would sign up for an ideology that suggest they ought to forego loving almost half the population. Does that even sound reasonable to you? Feminism is about aiming for equality. The definition my dictionary gives is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Call me insane, but the plural of sexes in that definition, to me suggests that a true feminist would be equally outraged by mistreatment of men as of women.
Is feminism a tricky issue considering history, society, economics, et cetera? Yes. Hell yes. Are there women out there who give feminism a bad name? Assuredly so. But Shailene, if you think badly about feminism, that’s your misguided definition. Or your definition is a version of cruelty where you don’t want men and women to be equal. And I don’t think you’re cruel.
Shailene, you also go on to say that women are often jealous of one another or disrespectful. Let’s take a step back. Men are just as prone to that as women. Also, if you feel your friends are jealous (beyond the reasonable bounds for when your friend is a beautiful movie star) and disrespectful (no excuse there), maybe you shouldn’t surround yourself with those people.
I don’t know if you’ve just been surrounded by female teenage fans for so long that you presume them to all be immature, but I can guarantee that there are thousands of girls of all ages, yes even 14 year-olds, who treat each other well, and have each other’s backs, and have hilarious inside jokes. They deserve feminism. Don’t use your wide platform for this. It doesn’t make you look cool/chill/enlightened. It makes you look foolish. I don’t want my 14 year-old sister or my 9 year-old sister or, god forbid, my 12 year-old brother to think that it’s okay to brush women off like this, simply because you were able to cite one recent female-centric romantic comedy that you think is about sisterhood.
I don’t think you’re cruel or even stupid. I just think you said something in a public platform with an impact that you might be unaware of. Maybe you’re in a good place in your life and your career where you don’t need feminism. I’ll admit myself, I often neglect to advocate for it because I face very minuscule — if any — direct discrimination. But please don’t spoil it for those who feel they do. Because there are women all over the world who are not as lucky as you.