“[T]he 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.”
I love Shailene Woodley, but still scratch my head over all her triangulations about not wanting to call herself a “feminist.” In an interview with The Daily Beast, Shailene was asked about a recent interview she gave with TIME in which she said she’s not a feminist because “I love men” and she thinks there needs to be a “balance” of power. Her remarks blew up the Internet, to put it mildly — a fact Shailene was unaware of because she doesn’t use the Internet. When her publicist called to warn her about the backlash, Shailene said, “Honestly, I started laughing.” Here are her continued thoughts on labels and feminism (and because this is Shailene Woodley we are talking about, her “truth”) from the Beast:
“I was talking about this with one of my close girlfriends because I read it and I was really disappointed and sad, actually, because I do consider myself someone who’s so embracing of women and loves women, and the way the journalist decided to say, ‘So, Shailene is trying to use men to prove women’s power’ or whatever she said was hilarious to me because that’s not what I said at all. But I was talking to my close girlfriend about it and she said, ‘Listen, Shae: labels are labels. I don’t need to label myself because I know who I am.’ That clicked for me really hard, and it was this defining moment in my life that I’ve taken with me and encourage others to do the same. Labels are for other people to understand us, so for me, I know how I feel and I don’t need to call myself a’feminist’ or ‘not a feminist’ because I know what my truth is. If you need in your own mind to say that I’m a feminist so you better understand where I’m coming from and what my ideals mean, then that’s for you. Labels are for people to understand one another, not for us to understand ourselves. I know where my cayenne sits in my spice cabinet. You can go and label each distinct spice, but I know what my flavors are. Once that clicked, I didn’t feel any sadness or disappointment at all anymore because I know how I feel, and I know what I do in the world with other women, and I don’t need to prove that to anyone online.”
I still don’t really understand why Shailene (and, to be fair, other women) believes feminism is discriminatory and anti-male; it’s probably from misinformation on her part. But Shailene is right about one thing: it sucks to be pounced upon just because you haven’t expressed your beliefs the way others — who basically agree with you, let’s not forget — wanted you to. That aspect of modern feminism is not something any of us should be proud of.
I do, ultimately, admire that Shailene doesn’t feel the need to prove herself to “anyone online.” Do I wish she expressed herself differently about feminism? Sure. But I actually do believe that Shailene believes in “the sisterhood,” even given her misinformation and the fact if she doesn’t express her beliefs the same way me. Especially since Shailene Woodley doesn’t even use the Internet, it’s probably not a good use of a feminist’s time to trash her.
Email me at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.
[Image via Getty]