Young Women Who Say They Aren’t Feminists: Leave Them Alone



I actually don’t think we should shit on young women like Shailene Woodley for saying they aren’t feminists. 


It’s not her fault that she’s be taught the ‘wrong’ definition of that word. It’s not her fault that she thinks it’s socially dangerous to call herself a feminist. It’s not her fault that she doesn’t see the pervasiveness of sexism. Or whatever reason it is that makes her jump back in terror from that word.

She’s just following a very common cultural script. She’s trying to get along with everybody. She doesn’t want to alienate herself from mainstream Hollywood, or all the men in her life. She doesn’t want to be marginalized by siding with the marginal. She doesn’t get it. Yet.

A lot of us were “humanists” and “post feminists” and “antifeminists” when we were teenage babies. Part of it was denial. Part of it was ignorance. Part of it was fear of social rejection. Whatever. It takes a lot of blatant sexist bullshit for most of us to decide to get angry, and assertive, and annoying, and insistent, and “misandrist”. For a long time, that’s a very scary possibility.

And think. If that’s what Shailene’s image of feminism is…where has she been learning about feminism and sexism? Probably from a lot of sexist ass dudes and a ton of women who have internalized basic-ass gender norms. People have taught her to be afraid of that word. Have some sympathy. She’s a kid. 

If anything, shitting down her throat about how she doesn’t understand and needs to learn is going to confirm all her worst, least educated stereotypes about what feminism is, and what feminists are like. It will send her running…and not into safe arms, culturally speaking. Let’s not do that to her. 

Any young woman who pulls that “I’m not a feminist! I don’t hate men!” crap is obviously really, really afraid of losing their status with and among men in mainstream culture. And when we’re talking about a fucking teenaged celebrity, that really shouldn’t be a surprise.

So let’s not threaten her further, okay? Let’s not send her running into the arms of anti-feminism or someshit. What she’s saying is not worthy of belittlement. It’s a very common reaction to years of acculturation. Our job is to make feminist observations and information available, and safely accessible and understandable, so that when they’re ready, these young women can seek them out.

Telling people what to believe and how to identify is goddamned patriarchical. 

Dang Erika is always insightful.

"Telling people what to believe and how to identify is goddamned patriarchal." 

That statement alone hits the target straight on. People change and so do their beliefs. What you believe to be true right now won’t necessary be true for you tomorrow or the next day or the next year. We all grow, our minds become more open to other ideas, so cut Shailene some crap. I’m not her biggest fan, I actually find some of the things she say absurd and annoying but this whole feminist thing got out of hand. 


New poem! This was inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s, The Little Prince. Hope you like it! Also check out my new book Lullabies, due for release in Sep and now available for pre-order from all major book stores and online here xo Lang 

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