As someone with a public platform, you might think Shailene Woodley would have thought twice before making some pretty ill-received remarks last week. Sadly, her comments on feminism don't necessarily surprise me, seeing as we live in a society that has perpetual short term memory loss over what the word really means. The comments in question? A series of assertions that she is "not a feminist" because she "loves men."
Ok real quick let's just back this up like a U-Haul truck and break down why this gives me a splitting headache. Woodley may have adopted a public persona as a quirky little woodland fairy, but sadly, ignorance comes in all forms; even disguised as quirky flower child actresses.
Feminism is the notion that women are people. Plain and simple. Merriam-Webster even has my back: "Feminism: The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities."
I distinctly remember a very plainspoken young woman in one of my undergrad classes who decided to speak up on the topic of feminism when we were having one of our *many* discussions on the subject. "Well," she said, "I don't know if my boyfriend would want me calling myself a feminist. I'm not angry all the time. I wouldn't want him to leave me because I called myself that." I so wish I could create a GIF of the eyerolls coming from everyone else in the room at that very moment. If possible I would play said GIF at every dumb phrase tossed around by Katy Perry or Ms. Woodly that somehow equates feminism with a hatred of men.
As a coworker said smartly today, "some feminists hate men: some feminists hate tomatoes." Because everyone SHOULD be a feminist, of course there will be differences in personal preferences amongst people. As is the case with politics or religion, there are, unfortunately, always those who will take something too far. There are the religious zealots who will persecute you for using birth control. But that doesn't mean all people who believe in something bigger than themselves are piously using the rhythm method. Ya dig? (If it did our population would quickly quadruple).
Similarly, there will always be some women who, scarred in any number of ways, really hate men. I do not agree with those women. They have hijacked the term "feminism" to fit their radical beliefs, and that's ridiculous. They do not speak for what feminism really means.
The problem with famous people--women especially--denying that they are a feminist, is that it puts a big, public voice to the problem of confusing feminism (equal rights for women) with misandry (hatred of men). In 2014, feminism should benefit ALL people, no matter what their gender or sexual orientation, because true feminism accepts that anyone can achieve whatever they want; that men and women are equal.
So COME ON young starlets, I'm looking at you especially. Because we are an entertainment-obsessed culture, people care about what you have to say. People read your words and listen to what you say and it's simply ignorant to refuse to stand for something as simple as human rights. So the next time you hear someone say they're not a feminist, please--kindly remind them that feminism actually just means equal rights for women. And that's something me and you, your momma and your cousin too should all agree about.