Warning: This post is not Oscar-related. Please feel free not to read it.
I can’t believe I have to do this. Overall, any press that revolves around something someone said is one of the signs of our society’s demise — Gwyneth said this, Beiber said that – WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK? Really, there are far worse things to be outraged by in our country right now — like, global warming, like Citizens United, like the disappearance of the bee population, like the oligarchy our country has become. NONETHELESS someone needs to really set Shailene Woodley down for frank one on one about the word feminism. I guess I’ll join the chorus of those who need to wake that woman up.
It’s bad enough the press is already setting up the good girl (Jennifer Lawrence) against the annoying girl (Woodley), something Woodley hardly sees coming. Think: Shia LaBeouf. Think: Gwyneth Paltrow. When the worm turns on you, when it’s your turn to be stoned, it gets really ugly really fast. But that’s beside the point. I don’t want to see Woodley headed there but I also want to either open a Kickstarter to send her to college — preferably a college like Smith where they will hammer the notion of feminism into her head — or else write this piece to help her understand.
Woodley is a bold and expressive woman and that is just awesome in this day and age. You will never hear, for instance, Jennifer Lawrence say something controversial beyond admitting she farted in public one time. She isn’t nor would ever be political in any respect. So I admire Woodley for being so outspoken. Her problem is only her lack of education and her ignorance. Again, somewhere along the line she followed the very damaging PR campaign against feminism that made it a dirty word, a discriminatory word, a hurtful-against-men word and something our male-dominated society greatly resents. Okay, fine. That is her opinion and she’s entitled to it but if she is going to be a young adult star, if she is going to have a lot of little girls trailing after her and following what she says/thinks — we’ve got some work to do here changing Woodley’s mind. Or die trying.
When asked in TIME if she was a feminist she 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.
Take. Men. Away. From. Power.
At first I simply erupted on Twitter about this but now, she just won’t stop. But we’ll get to her most recent comments further down.
“Because I love men.” Da fuq?
Being a feminist doesn’t mean hating men. Oh how I sometimes wished it did! I often lament my own distraction with my obsession with the human male. If I could turn off that continual car alarm for cock I could do so much more with my life. Let’s make it not even about cock but just about loving men. Do we not, many of us, love our fathers and sons and teachers and leaders and artists? Of course we do. It is the silliest of all notions that feminism is about removing men from power as though we’re talking about Catholics and Protestants here. We’re talking ABOUT balance. That’s what equality is. BALANCE, homegirl, balance! Fairness, equal rights.
To give Woodley the benefit of the doubt — because clearly this is someone who doesn’t know what feminism really is –she maybe doesn’t know who Gloria Steinem is, for instance. She might not know what Steinem recently said about the libido to the NY Times on her 80th birthday, “The brain cells that used to be obsessed are now free for all kinds of great things. I try to tell younger women that, but they don’t believe me. When I was young I wouldn’t have believed it either.”
Of all of the things feminism is about the last thing it’s about is hating men. This notion was used as a propaganda tool to dismantle equal rights and laugh at women as many men still do today. If you, Shailene Woodley, do not think you’re being judged on whether you are a hot enough piece of ass to stay relevant in the media you have another think coming.
Woodley’s latest thing was in the Daily Beast:
And the word “feminist” is a word that discriminates, and I’m not into that. I don’t think there has to be a separation in life in anything. For me, bringing up the whole “sisterhood” thing was about embracing each other’s differences. Embrace my point of view even if it’s different from your point of view, but see that our end goal is the same. The way that we’re getting there might be different, but as long as we approach life with kindness and compassion, that’s all that matters. So it made me sadly laugh that a woman who I was trying to say, “Let’s embrace one another,” distinctly chose to do the opposite. But you know what? Everything is out of your control, and you can only be truthful about how you feel.
Yeah, no. Embrace white supremacists? It is not about embracing everyone when you are talking about oppression. Maybe at a crowded party where girls and boys are drinking watermelon shooters you can espouse upon such things but when you have a worldwide audience listening to you you’d better at least have the basic facts straight.
But let’s try now to help the situation before it gets any worse (because believe me, homegirl, it’s going to get worse. A lot worse).
To understand why there was feminism in the first place, or civil rights for that matter, a privileged young woman such as yourself has to understand what oppression is. You have a dominant status quo — here in America that equates to the white male. White men are born into privilege. That means, most of what the American dream promises it promises to them. They get paid more, get better jobs, are listened to. As an example, in my own field which is writing about film and the Oscar race I could make a single point repeatedly for two weeks to crickets and then a male writing the exact same thing could tweet out that point and it would get retweeted dozens of times. I could write an editorial about something and no one would care until a male writer wrote the same thing and backed it up. Okay, we’ll listen to what she has to say because now a man has said it also. It’s valid. It isn’t the ramblings of some crazy bitch.
Moreover, I will never get credit for having launched the whole industry of Oscarwatching starting at the beginning of each year, which I pretty much did in 1999, along with a few others. I’ll never get credit for it because women, in my field, rarely do. Ask Anne Thompson, who completely overhauled Indiewire to turn it into a profitable multi-media power site. Ask Sharon Waxman who did the same with The Wrap. Ask Nikki Finke. Other than Anne, the other two women are regarded as bitches, their success only reluctantly accepted by their competitors. Were they men, their personalities would simply not come into play. Anne Thompson gets away with being a powerful woman in the press because she doesn’t make it political. You have NO IDEA what it is to be a woman trying to work in a man’s field. You are doing it now but you don’t seem to realize it. You won’t realize it until you start to get a little too old to be considered hot anymore. You will realize it when the only work you can get is if you take your clothes off on camera. Prepare yourself by watching the careers of those who have come before you. I wish, for your sake, that you don’t have these obstructions in your path. I hope you can achieve all of the dreams you set out to achieve and that it won’t ultimately come down to how you look or whose boner you’re raising (it will).
I didn’t start out writing about feminism or oppression in the Oscar race fifteen years ago. I didn’t have to. It wasn’t in the sorry state that is in today. But women started disappearing from movies. Black women even more so. To date, only one black woman has won Best Actress in 86 years of Oscar history. Think about that. Think about how few Best Actress contenders there are in a given year. Someone had to start bitching about it. The louder people bitch the more Hollywood has to pay attention. That, my dear, is what the feminist movement was and is.
Maybe you didn’t grow up at a time when your only real option in life would be to marry someone handsome or go struggle against the status quo to try and get a job somewhere. My grandmother, for instance, born at the turn of the century started out as a secretary. You would have loved that as a career opportunity because you would get hit on repeatedly and would never have had the opportunity to be the rebellious female that you are today. You are allowed to speak your mind because a handful of very strong, very brave women fought for your right to do so. You aren’t intentionally slapping them in the face but you are inadvertently doing so with your ignorant comments about the word feminism.
To make this point even more clear, imagine a young black woman, or man, saying “I don’t really believe in civil rights because that’s discriminatory.” And in fact, many people DO say that. They are usually conservative white Americans who resent the rise of minorities in their culture. It is a way of continuing to oppress those who have struggled, fought and in some cases died for their own equality. Clearly you didn’t mean it that way because I know that feminism has fallen prey to a successful campaign to make anyone who associates with the word an angry, hairy-legged, sandal-wearing, man-hating dyke. But really, feminism is a movement to help improve the rights of women, born out of a time when they had none. Because you now have more equal rights (still no legal right to equal pay, honey child) is due primarily to those who came before you to fight for it.
When you buy into the notion that feminism is discriminatory you expose your own ignorance but worse, your willingness to buy into the notion that the rights of women do not have to be fought for. In fact, worldwide, they do.
Here is how Wikipedia defines it, “Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.”
Now, to say you aren’t a feminist you have to agree that you don’t stand for equality of women, and that you don’t believe in economic, cultural, and social rights of women. Is that really the case? Or have you bought the line of the women-hating status quo that wants to deflate the power of the feminist movement? It sounds to me like you have.
The world doesn’t need more stupid people in it. It needs more smart people who can really fight for change. Your activist tendencies so far include exposing your vagina to sunlight. Hey, I’m all for the healthy vagina but if you have a strong voice and a willingness to be rebellious, shouldn’t you use it to fight for a more worthy cause beyond your own vagina?
Every time you say a disparaging thing about Feminism, alongside people like Katy Perry and god knows who else, it represents yet another step back in a movement that has had trouble getting started from the beginning. Women like you still want to be attractive to men thus you fear their rejection by coming off like a — “militant feminist.” I can tell you, such is never going to be the case. Any man who would reject you because you were too outspoken or because you stood up for the rights of women and other oppressed minorities is not worth your time, even if his dick is the stuff of Greek Gods. Believe me, been there, sucked that.
Here are a few wonderful quotes by Ms. Steinem — and I am ashamed that she, after all she’s done for the feminist cause and for women, would have to read anything negative about the word feminist in 2014.
“We’ll never solve the feminization of power until we solve the masculinity of wealth.”
Yes, I know so far Shailene, you aren’t really thinking about such things. But believe me, someday you will. When the shimmer of youth vanishes and you are just a female along with the rest of us it will matter greatly.
“If you say, I’m for equal pay, that’s a reform. But if you say, I’m a feminist, that’s a transformation of society.”
Look around, honey. Look at the industry YOU’RE in. Do you have any idea how hard it is just to get a film made with a woman in the lead? THAT will require a transformation of a society and a transformation of an industry. Stop staring at your vagina and look up. You will see terrifying things.
“Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It’s about making life more fair for women everywhere. It’s not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It’s about baking a new pie.”
Women everywhere. Take note, Shailene. We’re not talking just about the US. We’re talking about Nigeria where schoolgirls were just kidnapped to be sold off as wives. We’re about clitorectomies. Know what those are? You want to give your vagina a wake-up call? Try having your clitoris removed.
Let’s go over this again:
–Fighting for the inalienable rights of a woman to have a clit is feminism.
–Fighting for the right for Nigerian girls to have an education is feminism.
–Fighting for the rights of women to have equal pay for equal work in America is feminism.
–Fighting for your own right to star in a film without having to be defined by the man you stand behind is feminism.
Why would you ever want to distance yourself from such a powerful word? Because it’s discriminatory? The same way that civil rights is discriminatory?
“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”
Is that not you, Shailene Woodley?
On the state of women today, says Steinem:
“Whatever each individual woman is facing; only she knows her biggest challenge. However, if we add up the problems that affect the biggest numbers of women, then issues having to do with physical safety and reproduction are still the biggest. Female bodies are still the battleground, whether that means restricting freedom, birth control and safe abortion in order to turn them into factories, or abandoning female infants because females are less valuable for everything other than reproduction. If you add up all the forms of gynocide, from female infanticide and genital mutilation to so-called honor crimes, sex trafficking, and domestic abuse, everything, we lose about 6 million humans every year just because they were born female. That’s a holocaust every year. It makes sense that reproductive freedom is still the biggest issue – because the reason females got in this jam in the first place was because the patriarchal state or religion or family wanted to control reproduction — to decide how many workers, how many children the nation needs, and who owned them in systems of legitimacy — or even outright slavery. The International Labor Organization says there are about 12 million people living in literal slavery around the world, and 80 percent of them are women and girls.
Are you starting to get it now, Shailene? Are you even close?
My last comment is this — You absolutely have the right to say whatever the hell you want. But when you say things like ‘feminism is discriminatory” make sure you are completely educated on 1) the feminist movement, and 2) what discrimination really means.
Dude, even Camille Paglia calls herself a feminist even if she opposes the Steinem route to get there. Feminism sprang from a desperate need to relieve oppression. Think about it. Please. At least know what you’re talking about before you oppose something so important.