Is the Shailene Woodley Backlash Going Too Far?

In a new interview with Marie Claire, Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence expresses concern about being over-hyped and praised, “Nobody can stay beloved forever. People are going to get sick of me.” It may seem odd coming from 2013’s golden girl, but given the way we’re so quick to turn on public figures the moment they say something we don’t like, J-Law is probably right that her cuteness is bound to start bothering people.

She ought to talk to her friend Shailene Woodley about that, as the Fault in Our Stars actress is currently under hot water for some questionable comments she made on feminism. It wasn’t long ago that the world was intrigued by the clay-munching, tree-hugging Divergent star, but now that Woodley has seemingly spoken out against feminism, her views are “not good enough” for us.

When asked by TIME whether she considers herself a feminist, Woodley responded, “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.”

This skewed description of feminism sparked immense outrage on the Internet, with blogs and opinion sites of all kinds calling out the celebrity’s personal views. “I encourage you to go out and explore more, take a tip from Beyonce and watch feminist videos or keep exploring feminist writing, and talk to men and women who believe in feminism,” wrote Sara Roncero-Menendez, who, I might add, failed to notice the contrast between Beyonce’s “Bow Down” lyrics and the Ban Bossy movement, but that’s a post for another day.

Woodley also received dozens of unsolicited open letters, so if her schedule happens to be relaxed this week, she’s got a ton of reading to catch up on, and none of it is particularly positive. Jezebel declared Woodley’s feminism thoughts “not good,” and Salon had a bone to pick with Woodley’s criticism of girl-on-girl hatred and resentment, “Woodley fails to analyze where that jealousy, comparison and envy between females comes from, and points instead to The Other Woman as a shining example of what females should be like.”

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  • Chelsea K. Ayling

    “Woodley is entitled to her opinion, whether we agree with it or not. Her definition isn’t fair or “correct” to many of us, but it’s her own, and she should be able to express her unpopular opinion without being accused of being “part of the problem” or giving feminism a bad name.”

    Sorry, but I don’t agree. When people are being racist, we don’t defend their right to be that way. In fact, they can be breaking the law in some cases for doing so.

    It is an individual’s obligation to try and change attitudes from wrong to right. Sexism, racism – prejudice of any kind – is wrong. Simple as that. Commenting on it, trying to educate and calling it out is the way to try and make things right. At the end of the day, Woodley was making claims which cause definite damage to feminism and the people who are trying so darn hard to get the world to see that men and women desrve – nay are ENTITLED to – an even playing field. I’ll call out anti-feminists and people who plain just don’t understand it at every chance I get. Just like I would someone making a racist comment.

    • Tasha Noemi

      It doesn’t sound like she’s being sexist. Many people mistake feminism as a proxy for women. It’s not. She’s not saying that she’s against women, only that she doesn’t identify as a feminist. To be honest, I can see where she may have come to this conclusion.

      I spend time on both feminist and men’s rights forums to keep my outlook balanced. I have seen very militant feminists spew what can only be described as damaging, man-hating rhetoric and be applauded for it. Most feminists don’t act this way but if this is what people see and hear, it’s not surprising that some people get turned off by the movement (in the same way that many women get turned off by mens rights movements, thinking that they revolve around hating women).

      • Chelsea K. Ayling

        Not saying she’s sexist, at all. Saying it’s a prejudice – not unlike sexism or racism and it’s not on. She’s making a judgement about an entire group of people based on the experience of a few – that’s wrong. Militant attitudes and man-hating is wrong, too. But it’s not a reason to allow someone to continue with that attitude or thought.

  • Sally Rusbatch

    I think this outrage, as well as her comments, are totally misinformed. Being a femimist is to believe in equality, not one sex ruling over the other. So her comments on feminism were in fact in favour of feminism. Everyone needs to stop putting so much weight on the words of the famous and think for themselves!

  • Audrey Eichelberger

    I think she just doesn’t actually know what feminism encompasses. We hold give these young actors too much credit. If it were any other young 20 something that we know we wouldn’t think twice about their uneducated views.

  • Laura Narddog Nardo

    I always thought the Feminist movement was about equality. Men and Women being equal on all grounds. Am I wrong or is that what the actress was saying? That men should not rule over women and women should not rule over men? All this man-hate feminism is a little ridiculous, but again, to each their own. I guess I’m just too middle ground on everything to really understand the tumblr definition of feminism. I believe in equality for everyone in every aspect of life. I don’t think that is wrong.

  • Emily Fitch

    Why don’t we make a point to educate people on the meaning of feminism? Focus on how it has been changed by a misogynist world…

  • Catherine Bruno

    I say leave her alone. In my opinion the gist of what she said was leaning towards equality. But people like to read so much into what people say. I agree with her opinion on Twilight and think she is absolutely right, but I also think she is trying to say we need balance and equality even though it didn’t come out that way. At the same time, it’s not my place to be critical of her own views and opinions. We are so critical of celebrities and their views and we really just need to live our own lives and let them live their own and not be so hard on them. I meam it’s no wonder some of them get into the sticky situations that they do.

    • Laura Elizabeth Donovan

      Couldn’t agree more. Let her have her own thoughts!

  • Lauren Merideth

    I think it’s just misunderstanding. I’ve always understood the feminist movement to be about equality and even though verbally she says she doesn’t agree with ‘feminism’ to go on and say what she said about balance and seeing herself as 50/50 makes sense for the true definition and not the ‘man hating’ commonly misconstrued meaning of feminism. It seems to be a lack of education and for people to call her out on that seems wrong also seeing as how she responded to an interview question on the spot. Instead of getting outraged over some comments why not turn it positive and use it as a teaching moment to talk about what feminism really means vs the common perception.

    • Anjelica Mendoza

      God bless you! lol Everything you said was on point!

  • Cally Sarnowski

    It’s society and the media that make the word and thought of feminism negative. A feminist is often pictured as a man-hating woman who spurns all things man and feels society would be better off without men (so to speak).

    It’s a common misconception that is hard to really educated people on. Most have already made up their minds about what feminism is and nothing you say will likely change that. Telling people the truth about what feminism means (and that there are often men who associate themselves with feminism) is often a long hard process.

  • Nishelle Jones

    She is allowed her opinion and I think that everyone should just chill out. Disagreeing with her is one thing, but some are just taking it way too far. My unpopular opinion: All of this feminism talk has gotten really annoying as of late. I am a woman. I am a human being first. I believe in equal rights for everyone. I do not consider myself a feminist, though. I believe we should all think that way. There is no need to slap a label on it. Crucify me? Peace and love :)

  • Jordan Lanie

    I don’t think Jezebel is a clear and level headed version of Feminism because most article imply a “women over men” mentality and tend to trivialize more complex issues. Case and point everything Woodley talked about was equality and being amicable to to each other regardless of gender. If she doesn’t understand your version of feminism(which with the “Ban Bossy” movement existing is a valid opinion to have) or is just semantically choosing a different word that’s ok too. unless equality is not your actual purpose as a feminist? In regards to the twilight comment, she is completely correct in calling out an incredibly “toxic” example of love. I loved the books and movies but as an adult you can very easily tell that it is a unhealthy relationship and that its not at all a progressive example of what relationships should be like for young girls. Calling out a legitimate problem in our culture is not”judging” or “jealous” or “envious” and more to the point Woodley’s comments have probably converted more non-feminists to the belief than Jezebel ever will.

  • Caroline Coghill

    The entire feminist movement is completely misunderstood. There are too many people with opposing views on what the basic principals are, and that’s why we have this unhealthy atmosphere of men-bashing, and women-bashing, and having to proclaim whether or not we are “bossy for the sake of being bossy,” or “being bossy because we are entitled.” Regardless, you’re never going to fully appreciate or be on everyone’s feminist scale of reason. It just won’t happen. We have different view-points for a reason. I understand Woodley’s points because they are valid, logical arguments. There wasn’t one point I read that spoke to me otherwise, and so what if she isn’t the dictionary definition of feminism? Not everyone is, and that’s alright too. Her persona speaks to me because I think she’s authentic, and I believe she should be given equal benefit of the doubt. Jezebel has no right whatsoever to tear anyone down. They’re not even a credible source!

  • Kim Condoulis

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what Shailene Woodley said. She didn’t bash on any women or say that women should be submissive. She also didn’t discourage women from striving to be their very best. She advocated balance and I think that’s a very admirable stance to take. Even if somebody disagrees with her opinion, I think it’s very immature to send so much poisonous hate her way. That never helps anything.

  • Eli Nieves

    No one is upset that Woodley doesn’t align herself with her feminism, it’s just that she used an incorrect definition (that is often used to bash feminism) to justify her reason not to.

  • Lisa Marie

    Eh…she’s just a silly kid. Insulting someone has never been an effective tool for teaching our children and young adults. Yeah, she’s obviously misinformed regarding the true feminist non-agenda, but instead of freaking out and slandering her, we need to show her the right way and help her understand.

  • Jennifer Barrios

    I am so tired of people judging others. Shailene Woodley is young and still has lots of living to do. Her responses are most likely based on inexperience. Sometimes feminists make feminism sound plain wrong. I could care less for the labels that society has created for all of us. But just to make it clear, Feminism to me is a social movement and not a personal label. Let’s discuss Feminism where it really matters, yes? Nigeria for example. Not in Hollywood. People need to start re-focusing their energy and stop wasting it on what a young Hollywood star says. Sigh. You all need to get a life.

  • Daphne Pellegrine

    The problem is that a lot of young girls (and boys) will listen to her saying these things and think that feminism is about hating man and oppressing them instead of a fight for equal rights. She knows that because she’s famous, everything she says will cause an impact on those who listen and she should be more careful while talking about certain subjects.

  • Ameerah Jaffer

    In my opinion she just knows the wrong definition of feminism. She on the other hand has great views like any other feminist as she thinks we need balance and isn’t that what we are fighting for? Labels at the end of the day are just labels its what you believe what matters.

  • Kelly Lawson

    What does her opinion of Edward and Bella have to do with feminism? Really? I think what she was quoted saying about that situation had more to do with individual independence for both women AND men and how young people should learn and understand that you do not have to be co-dependent on anyone.

  • Cassandra Ismaelie

    I think it’s more important for her to understand that the exact issues that concern her regarding male and female equality/balance actually make her a feminist. In the interview, she mentions that she believes in a balance of power, as well as comradery among women instead of shaming others, etc. Feminism is not about hating men and once she figures that out, she’ll see that she is really fighting for the same issues that we all are. There’s no standard definition for feminism but I can tell you hating/being superior to men isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) one of them.

  • Kezia Germ

    This comment is not worth hating her for. I also had a very different view of feminism before I had actually done some reading.

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