Dear Shailene Woodley, Please Shut Up.
CC: To all other women who think feminism is about being mean to the boys
Dear Shailene Woodley,
Please shut up.
No, really. You need to stop.
Now, that might seem harsh, but I feel pretty good about saying it, because your comments about how you don’t believe in feminism because you “don’t hate men” and “believe in equality for all” are EXACTLY what I said back when I was your age (ie: a child). And boy oh boy, let me tell you – did I ever feel edgy and ahead of my times and Super Smarter™ than everyone else when I said it. Like, it seemed so logical, right? Let’s just do equality, because that’s best for everyone. Done and done – please submit your next world problem for solving.
Except, here’s the thing. As you are a child, you actually don’t know anything about life. Sure, you know more about acting and Hollywood and thinking bad hygiene is cool than I ever will. But when it comes to life? To actual life? Well, I might as well call you Jon Snow, because You. Know. Nothing. Again, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that, because like I said, hearing you is like listening to myself talk back when I was Super Smart™. If it makes you feel any better, you can just pretend I’m talking to myself 20 years ago (except, hint: I’m talking to you). And I’m sure (I hope) that you’ve heard along the same lines from a lot of other people since you chirped forward with your wisdom, but…well…apparently, after 15 years of marriage, my hubs no longer thinks it is ‘cute’ when I wake him up to rant about subjects that have me agog (FYI: we have come to an agreement in our marriage whereby I no longer watch shows about kiddie beauty pageants or bigamy after he has gone to bed), so in order to spare him, I’m afraid I’m going to actually have to put this all down in words.
Holy shit, 20 years ago I thought I had all the answers to everything. I was so passionate about things that I honestly believed that my passion = knowledge = right. And one of the things I was right about was that feminists were man haters, and I had good men in my life. I went on and on to whoever would listen (including, I quiver with shame to remember, women for whom inequality, and therefore the need for feminism, were daily battles) that women were no better than men; that the idea that men were better than women hadn’t worked out so well, so there was no need – indeed, it was unreasonable – to commit a converse offence. If we gals just worked really hard to prove ourselves and didn’t expect special treatment, men would eventually come to believe that we could play, too. They would respect us for respecting them, and the world would become copacetic. If we, as women, would just try a little bit harder, that would be all we would need.
Oh my GOD I was stupid.
I’m an actual grown up now, Shailene, and trust me when I say that, in regards to life, you don’t know anything. It’s not your fault – you just haven’t had the life experience yet with which to educate yourself. So take it from me, as someone who will maybe be you in 20 years, that when it comes to your views on feminism, you really, really need to shut up. And you need to listen, not just to me, but to the voices of all of the women who have gone before you. I just happen to be the only one here at the moment.
Shut up, because feminism isn’t about hating men – it is barely about men at all. Feminism is the crazy idea that women should be able to choose for themselves, that they should have equal opportunities for and access to education and jobs, and that they and they alone should have command over their own bodies. Feminism is the stay at home Mom and the Fortune 500 CEO. Feminism is respecting and fighting for another woman’s right to choose differently than you. Feminism is about standing up for all women, regardless of race, age, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, genitals or socio-economic demographic.
Shut up, because equal treatment can only come from a place of justice and equality.
Shut up, because girls are still being kidnapped and raped for daring to go to school
Shut up, because girls are still being shot in the head for daring to go to school.
Shut up, because women are still making $.70 to the dollar against men.
Shut up, because of the vast number of single mothers working three jobs and still living in poverty.
Shut up, because women are still viewed by men as prizes.
Shut up, because rape victims are still blamed.
Shut up, because women who take ownership of their bodies and sexuality are slut-shamed.
Shut up, because girls are murdered for daring to say no to entitled boys.
Shut up, because female politicians who aren’t all warm and fuzzy are criticized by male colleagues for being “not a very nice woman.”
Shut up, because women in the public eye still have an extremely small shelf-life (and you’ll want to especially consider this in ten years or so) based on their looks.
Shut up for all of the women who have to defend themselves while defending their country.
Shut up, because every time a woman says “I’m not a feminist, because poor men,” it gives power to the misogynists out there who stomp and scream about their rights every time a woman tries to stand up for themselves.
Shut up, because feminism is about making life better for everyone.
Shut up, because it’s not really at all about how the men feel. There’s already an organization for that, and it is called “society”, and it needs to change.
Shut up, because women are murdered daily by the men who we are not supposed to hate.
Shut up, because rape of women is still used as set dressing in movies and tv.
Shut up, because I have two daughters and two nieces, and I am, to my toes, honestly afraid of sending them out into the world.
Shut up, because my eight year old niece has had her butt smacked by a boy at school, and then subjected to him and his friends laughing and commenting about how it jiggled.
Shut up, because when a woman is harmed or abused in any way, the first question in too many people’s minds is “what did she do to bring it on.”
Shut up for me. Shut up for my daughters. Shut up for my nieces. Shut up for all of the women out there who are daily afraid. Shut up because of the sense of entitlement and rape culture that is rampant in our world. Shut up for all of the young girls who are going to go and see your movies and look to you as a role model. Shut up for all of those women who have worked and are working so hard every day to pave the road for you. Consider them. Be fucking grateful for their courage and their sacrifices.
Shut up for yourself in 20 years. Shut up until you’ve lived life, had your hopes crushed, been knocked down and got back up again. I mean, really knocked down, not “didn’t get that role, woe is me.” Not “nip slip, oops.” I mean grief and heartbreak and unfairness. I mean problems which your people and your salary can’t fix for you. Put yourself in the shoes of those women who cannot afford (literally and figuratively) to be so glib.
I’m sure you’re a nice kid, and I’m really not meaning to be mean. I am, genuinely, concerned for you, and especially, for your mortified self in 20 years.
So, hey! Shut up. Please, I beg you. Expand your circle of influence and listen a bit. Get some life under your belt, see some shit and have a really good think about things. And then, maybe, we can talk.