Is the Shailene Woodley Backlash Going Too Far?Laura Donovan

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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  1. First off, opinions are like buttholes. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, how are these comments in any way anti feminist? The only thing I would argue is that she IS a feminist, or closer to the traditional ideal than she thinks. It isn’t about one lording over the other, or one being inherently better than the other. Each side will always have qualities and abilities the other simply won’t. And it’s accepting that. That’s equality. That’s feminism back to its roots.

    Oh, and as for the ‘Twilight’ comments.. In any world, for any gender, to completely lose your sense of self and passion for life over a short-lived high school romance is creepy. That opinion in no way ‘clashed’ with the first.

    Maybe the issue here is with what you and others seem to consider ‘feminism’. It seems to have mutated to an ugly, power hungry movement and I would like to know what the title would be for those of us just hoping to be equal.

  2. I think that most of the backlash she’s been getting is because her comments seem misinformed. The majority of feminists I know believe feminism is about the equality of men and women, and these comments definitely seem to contradict that.
    I’m not saying she doesn’t have a right to her own opinion. If that’s what she thinks, she can keep on thinking it. But I feel that as a person in the spotlight, or as a person who may be a role model to some people, she has a responsibility to only voice opinions that won’t damage other people’s beliefs to media outlets.
    She tried to define feminism in a way that is in direct contrast to what a lot of people actually believe is feminism. So of course feminists are going to criticise her for it. It would be dangerous if they didn’t. And this is why I don’t think there’s a problem with the backlash she’s getting.

    • Please also note that when I say beliefs, I mean non-harmful beliefs, and in its current state, I think feminism is mainly non-harmful.
      In contrast to racism, which is definitely a harmful belief.

  3. I take issue with this behavior that the internet grossly perpetuates…either you agree with everything I say or you are not only are you wrong but stupid as well. People can only speak on what they know. And maybe in Ms. Woodleys experience feminism is “man-hating”. I would encourage her to educate herself further but the bashing and hate is doing nothing for the “feminist” argument.

  4. So I am reading a lot about what Shailene Woodley has recently said in a interview about her not defining herself as a feminist. I have a huge issue with the backlash she is getting. Now please note do I define myself as a feminist, yes I do. Do I feel the need to jump down her throat for not labeling herself this, no I don’t. Why do you say? I say this because as HUMAN BEING I understand she has the damn right to label herself whatever she wants or not label herself. She is an actress who is actually a somewhat decent person, well at least that’s what it seems from all her interviews. Now for everyone saying “oh she is a fucking idiot doesn’t understand what feminism is”. Let me tell you something not too long ago I was the same way meaning I hated feminist because I just always saw it as a group of man hating women. I am sorry but unless you do your research that is what feminism is because the media and radical feminist have made that what it is. So I don’t know if she is ill informed or whatever, but how is jumping on her for saying this make you a feminist? Feminism is one that believes in support for all genders and the minute someone says something you don’t like you lash out? You’re not a feminist if you feel the need to put someone down. If she doesn’t feel the need to define herself to one thing she doesn’t have to. We have such a need to label what we are we forget sometimes this labels make us forget at the end of the day we are all human and most of us mean well. She shouldn’t have to explain herself to anyone. I am not even a fan honestly, but I felt like this was unwarranted backlash. There are many women out there in the media who claim to be “feminist” but do nothing to support that claim. In fact they tend to do a lot that makes them look like they could careless if men and women are equal to each other, yet people are okay with them because they called themselves a feminist publicly. Calling yourself something doesn’t mean that is what you are. We can obviously see she loves people in general and does the best to be kind, so why all the hate to her? She is a young actress who isn’t exploiting her body, mind, or soul to make a quick buck. Instead she speaks up for the things she believes in and does the best to do good in this world while making films, yet people want to throw hate at her. So one needs to ask the question why do we feel the need to label ourselves so much? And doesn’t are actions speak louder than a label?

  5. I have little opinion about Woodley, other than that I would not like to run into her at Trader Joes, but I would suggest to Kit to do her research before she makes flippant comments about women, and I am talking directly about her comment about Beyonce and how even though this article is very recent, she referenced a clip of a song that was released more than a year ago as a teaser for a full length song that was featured on an album released at the end of 2013. The track, titled “***Flawless” is not a direct contrast to the BanBossy campaign, but in completely the same vein. It is a song that not only features a snippet of a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on feminism, but also fully preaches the values of taking ownership over yourself, your desires and your actions without allowing anyone to belittle you for them. In “***Flawless” Beyonce tells her listeners to be assertive, confident and dominant in life, and the BanBossy campaign is all about encouraging young girls to do the same through the elimination of gendered terms such as Bossy that would otherwise discourage girls from taking leadership roles. I’m not sure where you see the contrast in that. So yeah, I definitely think Shailene Woodley should be taking a page out of Beyonce’s book.

  6. 1. Noone is too young to have an opinion on feminism. Some people are more educated than others around it, obviously, but isn’t a key tenant of feminism that all women should be empowered to speak their mind and have an opinion and not just keep their mouth shut and be a pretty face?

    2. I think it is pretty clear that her views are in fact inline with basic feminist principles, she has just picked up a misconception somewhere along the line and has chosen not to align herself with that (skewed) definition. Whether or not she truly understands feminism, she is actually permitted to believe in whatever the heck she wants.

    3. Rather than giving her grief and bullying her (because you know it is bullying.) how about we all use this as an opportunity to educate ourselves further if needed (goodness knows when I was her age I was saying similar things out of ignorance and a dislike of the misandryst information that I was exposed to at times and had confused with feminism), or to educate and empower others.

    4. A commenter here or elsewhere, I can’t quite remember, was commented that the backlash is actually proving her right. I don’t agree, necessarily, because clearly the misandry/feminist confusion is widespread and deeply offensive to many and undermines feminist doctrine, BUT I can see where the commenter was coming from – rather than supporting and empowering this young woman to understand feminism in a mature and possibly lifechanging way, many people who identify as feminists having instead come out and abused her. i don’t think the original feminists would be very effing impressed.

  7. I think she’s FAR too young to have an opinion on feminism. When she lives a little more REAL life, perhaps she will understand more about how the world works. I think she’s a terrible actress, and I really DON’T care what some teenager’s opinion is about something that she cannot hope to relate to.

    In other news, there’s a big giant world of real stuff happening…

  8. I think that a lot of people are just uneducated on the topic, and there are a lot of misconceptions about feminism so it’s hardly surprising. If Woodley appears to not know all that much about it; you can’t condemn somebody who obviously has a misguided view. Many women don’t consider themselves feminists purely based on the stereotype – often when a woman gets older, she is more inclined to do research and investigate a topic before forming an opinion. Woodley probably doesn’t entirely understand the aims of the movement, (or at least that’s how it appears) and screaming at her through the internet doesn’t exactly help her form an educated opinion, does it?

  9. We have a problem in the modern world in that feminism has come to mean something different to everyone- which can obviously be good, but it has become bad too. There are different levels of feminism, and the extremist version has become associated with the meaning of feminism all together. Not everyone believes in the extremist view. But I think some women are scared of calling themselves a feminist because they believe this is what they will be associated with. Shailene seems to be one of those women; she views feminism as man-hating, which is quite sad in a way, because that isn’t what I believe the ‘base’ definition to mean. Yes, of course, everyone has their own opinion, but perhaps Shailene should have not been as ‘harsh’ about it. I think people who believe in the equality of men and women but are not keen on the word feminism, should perhaps use ‘equalism’ instead to explain themselves. I would however like to hear what Shailene has to say after all this supposed ‘backlash’. People can change their minds about things, and because of this, her view of feminism may have changed. But I hope the backlash from other feminists has been constructive, because if it’s hateful, then is that really feminism?

  10. Yes she does have a wrong definition of feminism, but is it really so wrong for a woman to not be a feminist? I disagree with her definition, but in this world if you don’t share someones opinion you get looked down upon.

  11. The fact that Shailene is getting as much flack as she is just goes to show how knee-jerk and reflexive modern-day Feminists are. They’re proving her right.

  12. I just think she doesn’t know much about feminism. So many people associate it with man-hating and I don’t think she’s done enough research in order to to break the association.

  13. Why does everyone still love J Law anyway, she was moaning about having arm pit fat on a red carpet I watched. She was like a UK size 8 at most in the dress she wore. Idgaf what Shailene said at least shes not trying to make EVERYONE happy.

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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.