What We Can Learn From Kirsten Dunst's Gender Role Comments

I have a special place in my heart for Kirsten Dunst. Not only has she been the star of a few of my favorite films (and yes, I’m counting the legendary Bring It On) but she seems like a pretty down-to-earth gal off camera. Unfortunately, my girl Kirsten angered quite a few people over a few comments in the May issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK regarding gender roles.

“I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued. We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it’s a valuable thing my mom created,” Kirsten said. “And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armor. I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work…”

Yikes. While I understand that celebrities sit down with reporters and say things and those things are often taken out of context to seem more outrageous, and also that Kirsten’s specific upbringing worked for her, stating these views seems fairly extreme. If she’s indirectly telling me that in order for my marriage to succeed I need to be in the kitchen, well, the world would disagree as I can’t handle anything greater than a Hot Pocket. While some women thrive in a stay-at-home mom role, many don’t. For a ton of women, having a career is incredibly important. And if they choose the working path, it doesn’t mean that they can’t also be fantastic mothers. I’m sure each and every one of you can point out a strong, successful woman in her life who manages absolutely everything, with little complaint.

Kirsten also identified male and female roles strongly and in a way we’re not used to hearing in 2014. And that’s the biggest problem here: the absolutes and the labels in her statement. Men and women obviously come in all shapes, sizes, and mindsets. A male doesn’t need to be brawny to be successful in a relationship – nor does he need to bring in the big bucks to be a supportive partner. Also? He doesn’t need to be in a relationship with a woman. I bet Kirsten knows all this, and I bet these are the opinions she holds for herself and that she’s not, actually, as the outraged Internet would suggest (many, many bloggers have called Kirsten out for her comments) going out and telling her friends that they have to wait for knights in shining armor and then stay at home with kids and that is the only way the world could work.

But it’s still easy to get upset – especially since Kirsten has been in the business long enough to know how quickly press can spread, how her words can, and will be, taken to heart by people ’round the world. 

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