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A Teachable Feminist Moment Courtesy of Shailene Woodley

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by Melissa Silverstein
May 5, 2014 5:26 PM
9 Comments
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Dear Shailene Woodley: I think you are a really talented young woman and I have enjoyed seeing you in several films and am actually very much looking forward to The Fault in Our Stars. But you kind of stepped in a pile of poo today with your Time interview, where you said you weren't a feminist, so I just wanted to share a few thoughts for you to keep in mind as you continue your press tour for the film. 

It is great to acknowledge that you are a role model for young women but precisely because they look up to you it is imperative that you give out messages that are empowering to young women and not totally naive, regressive and downright wrong.

1- Learn the definition of feminism. Here it is: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

2 - If there was no feminism you would not be a movie star. 

3- Being a feminist does not mean you hate men. 

4- Women are more than 50% of the world and we deserve 50% of the power and jobs.

5- If women gained more power all girls would go to school and they would not be kidnapped or sold into sex trafficking.

6- If this is what you think is a good balance of power in the world today you need stop acting and go back to school. Sart by reading some Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan and every woman from the 2nd wave. (Send me your address and I will gather a collection of book from the feminist canon for you to learn exactly what feminism is about.)

7- Tris is a feminist. 

8 -  Women are not trying to tear each other down, we are trying to build a movement up.

9 - Sisterhood = feminism - that comes from @KarenValby on twitter

10 - Women fighting over a man in a movie and making them look like idiots is not feminism. It's crass commercialism.

11- Women's rights are human rights.

12- Check with your agent and manager and find out how much money you made for your starring roles compared to an equivalent male peer. Then ask them where the other 30% is. Then you'll realize how much you need feminism.

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9 Comments

  • Kathy | May 12, 2014 10:19 PMReply

    Thanks for calling out Shailene Woodley for her feminist-bashing.

  • Star | May 6, 2014 11:09 PMReply

    "3- Being a feminist does not mean you hate men."

    No, it just means you think they are the root cause of most of the world's ills...but you totally don't hate them.

    "5- If women gained more power all girls would go to school and they would not be kidnapped or sold into sex trafficking."

    Um, what?

    "6- If this is what you think is a good balance of power in the world today you need stop acting and go back to school. Start by reading some Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan and every woman from the 2nd wave. (Send me your address and I will gather a collection of book from the feminist canon for you to learn exactly what feminism is about.)"

    Yeah, send her some Andrea Dworkin. That'll really help.

    "7- Tris is a feminist."

    I don't recall Veronica Roth ever saying as much, and she's the ONLY person qualified to do so (since it's HER character).

    "8 - Women are not trying to tear each other down, we are trying to build a movement up."

    Methinks women aren't as monolithic as you make them out to be.

    "11- Women's rights are human rights."

    So, that must mean feminism is really just humanism - meaning the term 'feminism' is utterly superfluous and divisive and unnecessary. Cool.

    "12- Check with your agent and manager and find out how much money you made for your starring roles compared to an equivalent male peer. Then ask them where the other 30% is. Then you'll realize how much you need feminism."

    Actually, it's been proven that actresses in their 20s make MORE money on average than their 20-something male counterparts. Where's the equality there?

  • Jack | May 6, 2014 9:35 AMReply

    She's a butterface if I ever saw one.

  • Kathy | May 12, 2014 10:21 PM

    Humanism is not about human rights.

  • HeyOh | May 6, 2014 9:34 AMReply

    Honestly, I caution anyone who looks up to an actress or actor in Hollywood for real world answers, or even directing their moral compass. As someone who is in the film business (and I would never admit this), MOST of the famous actors and actresses in Hollywood are not intelligent. That isn't there job or their talent - to be intelligent. Shailene is not intelligent. She proved this by not picking up a dictionary and looking up the word feminism. But her job is to act. Not to think. She doesn't have to be smart. And we've confirmed now she isn't.

  • Star | May 6, 2014 11:17 PM

    Marissa Mayer says she's not a feminist - she must not be intelligent, eh?

  • ANONYMOUS | May 6, 2014 4:23 AMReply

    Some things that aren't quite clear here.
    "3- Being a feminist does not mean you hate men."
    Unsure what what point this is meant to support because to my knowledge, she didn't mention anything about hating men. Her opinions about what feminism is are wrong, but there are so many "feminists" that claim to support the cause and act superior, mocking people that don't join their cause, that it is reasonable to suggest there will be people who misunderstand it.

    "5- If women gained more power all girls would go to school and they would not be kidnapped or sold into sex trafficking."
    "All" is a very absolute term. The difficulties being faces by women nowadays are not that simple. What about people in poor countries who simply can't afford education? And also, how would women gaining power make sex trafficking no longer a problem? Are you suggesting men in power are overlooking this problem, or that the individual girls need to have more power, and if so, to do what exactly?

    "6- If this is what you think is a good balance of power in the world today you need stop acting and go back to school. Sart by reading some Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan and every woman from the 2nd wave. (Send me your address and I will gather a collection of book from the feminist canon for you to learn exactly what feminism is about.)"
    *Start, you mean? And okay, the way you are supporting feminism is mocking those that don't understand it? (Which, as mentioned earlier, isn't actually a surprise seeing how the cause is sabotaged by "feminists" that don't really understand the cause either). Instead of acting morally superior, we should make an effort to make the people really understand feminism, and how it isn't about women being superior to men but equals, who were long denied many rights they deserve.
    "7- Tris is a feminist.
    9 - Sisterhood = feminism - that comes from @KarenValby on twitter
    11- Women's rights are human rights."
    Okay, so? What are those supposed to mean? The first one - so the actor has to support the same cause as the character she plays? (Tris is a feminist? Tried to look that up to be sure, but not a single review mentioned her, specifically, as a feminist. So not going to say anything about that, I might be wrong. Anyone who can fill me in on that, though?). The second one - once again, point is? Same goes for the third one. It's fairly obvious women are human, so not sure what that is even meant to support.

    Overall, there wasn't much said about feminism itself aside from the "equality" cliche which everyone probably knows if not understands by now. Feminism wasn't really even explained here, since the author chose to include many seemingly relevant but not actually linked points. "Send me your address and I will gather a collection of book from the feminist canon for you to learn exactly what feminism is about," you say? (**books. Sigh.) Well, how about actually explaining "what exactly feminism is about" here, instead of going on a mainly pointless rant the actress isn't going to read anyway? If this is how feminists respond to ignorance, how are you even surprised when don't understand your cause? Please pay some respect to women by not putting their cause in a bad light.

  • MAM | May 5, 2014 7:04 PMReply

    Slow clap.

  • Anonymous | May 5, 2014 6:44 PMReply

    To add: feminism is not about taking power away from men, but empowering women to be equal with men

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