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.
I feel like this every time I see people pounce on some young woman every time she says she’s not a feminist and it’s honestly kind of frightening because we should be better than that.
“A wonderful meeting, or a beautiful thing can exist. We depict hatred, but it is to depict that there are more important things. We depict a curse, to depict the joy of liberation. What we should depict is, how the boy understands the girl, and the process in which the girl opens her heart to the boy. At the end, the girl will say to the boy, ‘I love you, Ashitaka. But I cannot forgive humans.’ Smiling, the boy should say, ‘That is fine. Live with me.’” ( — Hayao Miyazaki)
Seriously, I don’t think it gets said enough in this fandom, but Harry is really such a good kid, and as much as the “name his kid after Snape etc etc” doesn’t make sense for multiple reasons, if it weren’t for the fact I couldn’t believe other people wouldn’t advise him against it, I can yeah, sort of see it, because he is way too forgiving and empathetic for his own good early on.
It was as early as the fifth book that after being pretty much mentally tortured by this guy, all he had to see were a few memories of him being bullied, and it was like instance empathy. “I’ve been bullied. I’ve been tortured. Now I see Snape has and I feel sorry for him.” Harry was so incredibly horrified at the idea his dad could have been a bully he was depressed for weeks, specifically because he knew what being abused felt like.
Snape had literally laughed at his terrible memories, but Harry was shocked when Snape thought he would find his funny.
Really, the big difference between Snape and Harry is Harry is able to engage in empathy and self reflection to an extent I don’t think he really gets credit for. He’s the opposite spectrum from Snape, who can never fucking forgive anything and punishes people who weren’t involved. Harry will instantly connect someone else’s pain to his own and feel it like that, no matter what that person did to him. He grew up suffering, and instead of letting that close him off from empathy, he instead uses it to connect to other people and look out for them. I think that’s pretty amazing. He always values people who suffered for him and died to protect him, even if they were horrible to him, he kind of can’t let go of that connection. It’s a kind of forgiveness that’s almost unhealthy, but it’s also born I think, from being a person who just…loves a lot because they know what it’s like to grow up without love.
So my actual headcanon for that is that people around Harry on some level understand that Harry just couldn’t let go of someone else’s suffering once he felt it as intimately as he felt Snape’s and wanted him to do what he could to make peace with that.
I always remember when I was younger and fandom would talk about how Harry overreacted to stuff (especially in the fifth book) and I just always saw it as the same as me, really. When you grow up sometimes in a bad situation, you can go certain ways- completely shut yourself off, or become very sensitive and open to your own suffering and the suffering around you to the point where you’re just boiling over all the time. You can’t ask for help, but you want to help everyone instead. Harry was always a character I related too because I understood that, I understood wanting to connect with everyone and not being able to stand when something reminds you of that suffering. Harry really is a good character. You can say all you want about the writing in Harry Potter, but god, he really meant a lot to me, and still does strike me as a very accurate representation of how someone who grew up in that situation can act.
One of the most sinister things about normalized racism is you don’t have to have bad intentions to be racist, you just have to remain ignorant.
"so she’s gay now?"
yeah she turned in all the paperwork last week and her acceptance letter came this morning, it was all pretty sudden
it’s ironic because this is actually the process for mainstream society to recognize you as trans
"My response to the “I am not a feminist” internet phenomenon….
First of all, it’s clear you don’t know what feminism is. But I’m not going to explain it to you. You can google it. To quote an old friend, “I’m not the feminist babysitter.”
But here is what I think you should know.
You’re insulting every woman who was forcibly restrained in a jail cell with a feeding tube down her throat for your right to vote, less than 100 years ago.
You’re degrading every woman who has accessed a rape crisis center, which wouldn’t exist without the feminist movement.
You’re undermining every woman who fought to make marital rape a crime (it was legal until 1993).
You’re spitting on the legacy of every woman who fought for women to be allowed to own property (1848). For the abolition of slavery and the rise of the labor union. For the right to divorce. For women to be allowed to have access to birth control (Comstock laws). For middle and upper class women to be allowed to work outside the home (poor women have always worked outside the home). To make domestic violence a crime in the US (It is very much legal in many parts of the world). To make workplace sexual harassment a crime.
In short, you know not what you speak of. You reap the rewards of these women’s sacrifices every day of your life. When you grin with your cutsey sign about how you’re not a feminist, you ignorantly spit on the sacred struggle of the past 200 years. You bite the hand that has fed you freedom, safety, and a voice.
In short, kiss my ass, you ignorant little jerks.”