Feminism’s PR Problem

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Last May, Shailene Woodley told Time Magazine that she doesn’t consider herself a feminist, 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.” There’s a popular Tumblr, Women Against Feminism, that features photos of women with text proclaiming, “I don’t need feminism because fighting for women superiority is not fighting for equality”, and “I don’t need feminism because I believe women should be supportive of one another regardless of where they choose to work, whether it be in an office or in the home.” There’s a new trend in rejecting feminism, and it’s on the rise.

The fact is that feminism applies to all women. It’s much easier to be a feminist than to not be a feminist, because the first simply means that one believes that women are equal to men, and the latter implies that one thinks women are not equal to men. Equality is a much easier concept to stomach than bigotry.

So the real issue is that these women are misunderstanding feminism. How does this happen? Well, celebrities like Shailene Woodley making incorrect statements about feminism certainly doesn’t help things. In Woodley’s quote, she neglects to include that feminism does not strive to take power away from men. She doesn’t grasp the notion that there is not a set amount of power, that women can gain power without taking anything away from men. She says she’s not a feminist, then goes on to define views that are exactly in line with feminism. However, if Shailene Woodley doesn’t want to call herself a feminist, that’s fine, understandable, even. The label “feminist” has plenty of negative connotations, and it’s reasonable that a young actress would want to disassociate herself with the term.

The problem is that Shailene Woodley didn’t just say she wasn’t a feminist, she also defines feminism inaccurately. This is infuriating because Shailene Woodley’s largest fan base is teenage girls, who idolize her because of her leading roles in teen block-busters like Divergent. These are people who could probably benefit from an introduction to feminism. It’s even more frustrating when you consider the nature of the movie Divergent, which is a dystopian story of a girl fighting to save herself and her world. So the audience is not only young girls, but young girls who are interested in strong female characters. The perfect young feminists, except that Shailene Woodley has discouraged them from pursuing a group that could legitimately help them.

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