Shailene Woodley Has Some Thoughts on Feminism, and They Are Not Good


Were you fooled into thinking that barefoot Shailene Woodley was a breath of fresh air as a celebrity? Think again.

Time asked the young starlet if she’s a feminist and it started off bad, clichéd bad, when Shailene says, “No, 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.”

How is women becoming powerful taking something away from men? Is Shailene going the Kirsten Dunst route, saying that if women are powerful then men will suffer by having to pitch in more at home? By having less opportunity to be a “knight in shining armor?” Does this thinking extend to her own industry, as if writing better roles for actresses, and hiring more female writers and directors will harm men somehow?

Then there’s this confusing business about men not respecting women because of girl-on-girl fighting:

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.

Okay, point taken, women should stop unnecessarily tearing each other down — but for men’s respect? How about for our own self-respect and so that we can advance as a gender, or is that going to make men sad and non-powerful too?

There’s also this rambling about how feminism wants to take away gender distinctions or something:

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.

Hey, I guess if we’re all 50% masculine and 50% feminine, then we all drink Pink Ladies and Woodford Reserve in equal amounts with no self-consciousness whatsoever. And our equal masculinity/femininity is totally reflected in our paychecks and our politicians’ respect for our reproductive rights.

At one point Shailene praises The Other Woman as a movie that’s empowering to women; the interviewer points out that the film is about little more than women teaming up to get revenge on a man. “Yeah, but they create a sisterhood,” reasons Shailene. “And he did something wrong, and they’re, you know. They’re going to go after him for it. I think it’s great.”

Woodley may think she’s preaching and praising some sort of mild empowerment — creating “a sisterhood” or whatnot — but she’s actually advocating for women to embrace the status quo: We gals can team up and become friends, sure, but only so long as we don’t actually knock men off their pedestal, or even question if they can give up some of the societal perks they enjoy.

All that said, Shailene is young and probably a bit sheltered. And it’s not like she’s the first celebrity who has equated feminism with tearing down men or girl-on-girl hate. Beyoncé herself once tempered her stance on feminism with a disclaimer that she loves men; now with her music and her essays on equal pay, she gets downright political about it. Maybe if Bey — or anyone, really — sat Shailene down and told her that feminism is actually about equality and women’s empowerment, she’d get the message.

Image via Getty.

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