Shailene Woodley and When Feminism Became the “F Word”

What does a feminist look like?
This bitch.
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And I say that word with power and respect, as I have learned over the course of my life, that in key moments, when I have taken charge or stood up for myself, it has occasionally been what I’ve been called.

Do you know what I mean?

This week, actress Shailene Woodley made news because when Time Magazine asked if she was a feminist she replied,

“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.”

Right after reading that article, the next thing on my feed was a news clip generated by TMZ about Madonna:

Madonna’s not ACTUALLY a slutty attention whore who planned to expose her nipples at the fanciest event in the world — literally dressed like Leeloo from “The Fifth Element” — at least that’s what she’s saying now … claiming the photo she posted online Monday was a joke.

Our sources say Madonna didn’t even have plans to go to the Gala … she was in the studio Monday night during the event and will stay there all week.

This just in: Madonna is 55 years old.

Below that, was an article about the noted fashion designer, L’Wren Scott and her memorial service in New York City.

You might remember that when L’Wren committed suicide in May, the New York Times’ original headline read:

“Mick Jagger’s Girlfriend Found Dead, Official Says”

Her name wasn’t in the headline in her own death notice.

And in that moment,
I sat back,
looked at the three news stories side by side
and knew I had to write this blog.

Feminism is not about hating men.
Feminism is not about trying to push men down and gain power.
Feminism is simply about wanting to have gender equality.

Feminism is wishing that one of the most successful and smart female entertainers of the last 100 years isn’t called a “whore” and “slutty” over an artistic photo of herself that she put her OWN censorship bar on.

Feminism is wanting her to be hailed just like Zac Efron was when he accepted his MTV Movie Award last week – as he was shirtless, half naked and PROUD.

Feminism is wanting a noted designer to be called by her name in the headlines of her death, rather than be just referred to as “Mick Jagger’s Girlfriend”.

Feminism is wanting to be recognized as a fellow human being
who is not an accessory to another human being
who is not to be de-valued or shamed when we express ourselves in the same way as men do,
who want equal pay and equal respect in jobs that we do and creative endeavors that we put out to the world.
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When I was in 4th grade, we were studying civil rights,
and in one photo there was a few women with picket signs standing alongside men.
“Feminists!” 9-year-old Tony Blanoff hissed
and a bunch of other kids laughed.

It was the F word.
According to the other kids at school,
Feminists were angry, ugly women who hated men and yelled all the time and wore Birkenstocks.
They were bitter, old and uncool.
They wanted to yell all the time and cause all this noise and couldn’t just relax and live alongside men.
They just needed to get laid.

This is what I heard when I was 9 from the other kids in school.

What was your first definition of the word “Feminism” from what you heard from others?

When I was an early teen, the Riot Grrl Movement hit my world through music.
They talked about equal rights and “revolution girl style now”.

I remember the moment of reading the Riot Grrl Manifesto and understanding exactly what Kathleen Hanna was talking about.
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Here’s a short excerpt:

BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t.

BECAUSE we are unwilling to falter under claims that we are reactionary “reverse sexists” AND NOT THE TRUEPUNKROCKSOULCRUSADERS THAT WE KNOW we really are.

BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-heirarchical ways of being AND making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.

BECAUSE doing/reading/seeing/hearing cool things that validate and challenge us can help us gain the strength and sense of community that we need in order to figure out how bullshit like racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism figures in our own lives.

BECAUSE we see fostering and supporting girl scenes and girl artists of all kinds as integral to this process.

BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak.

I read those words and agreed with them.
Then I knew that being a feminist was agreeing with those principles.
I knew that I was one.

And because other people, both men and women, have fought for this equality to happen.

And yet, articles like the ones above:
♦  Actress Shailene Woodley denouncing feminism,
♦  Madonna being called “slutty” and a “whore” in sentence number 1 of an article and being cast off as “55 years old” in the last sentence.
♦  L’Wren Scott dies and is referred to as only “Mick Jagger’s Girlfriend” in the headline of a reputable newspaper, The New York Times.

….these things tell me that something needs to be said
something needs to be done
and I have this blog
and I cannot be silent.

I don’t want little girls to read these articles and feel bad about themselves and feel less than boys.

I don’t want little boys to read these articles and think that this is the way to treat girls.

In the final sentence of the Riot Grrl Manifesto, Kathleen Hanna says,

BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real.

To do this, we need ALL of us, Men and Women, to stand up and say something and not let it be okay when we see articles like the above mentioned happen, we need to stand up together and inspire each other.

Fuck the media that puts out these misogynistic articles.
We can choose to create what we want with the power of the internet.
This article you are reading right now can be shared and reach the right people out there.
We all have a voice on the internet now.
The playing field is leveled.
And I will not sit back down.

Stand up with me.

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