Why Shailene Woodley Needs Feminism

Adding to the chorus of surprising celebrity naysayers of feminism, including Katy Perry, Susan Sarandon, Taylor Swift, Geri Halliwell, Kelly Clarkson and Sandra Day O’Connor — comes yet one more, Shailene Woodley, the clay-eating star of “The Fault in Our Stars,” who discussed the f-word with Time magazine recently.

When Woodley was asked, “Do you consider yourself a feminist?” she responded, “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. With myself, I’m very in touch with my masculine side. And I’m 50 percent feminine and 50 percent masculine, same as I think a lot of us are. And I think that is important to note. And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn’t work either. We have to have a fine balance. My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism.”

Yeah, sisterhood is sweet. But do people even know what feminism means anymore? Definitions, from Merriam-Webster, include, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities” and “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” A feminist is simply someone who believes in those ideas. So what’s not to believe in?

Luckily, providing wise counterpoints to Madonna’s declaration of being “humanist” and Lady Gaga’s reasoning that she can’t be a feminist because she “hails” men, is a smart, articulate lineup of supercool and successful women who proudly embrace the label.

Lena Dunham

“Women saying ‘I’m not a feminist’ is my greatest pet peeve. Do you believe that women should be paid the same for doing the same jobs? Do you believe that women should be allowed to leave the house? Do you think that women and men both deserve equal rights? Great, then you’re a feminist. People think there is something taboo about speaking up for feminism. I know for a long time that I was embarrassed to call out misogyny because I was then going to be that complaining girl who can’t let it go. But the fact is, we can’t let it go — not until we feel like we have been heard.”—Metro UK in January 2013

Geena Davis
“It’s all about feminism. Feminism simply means equal social and political status for men and women. There’s nothing radical about it or about using that word or having that as a goal. We’re simply trying to elevate the status of the female characters to equal. We take up half the space in the world so it would be great to see roughly half of characters be female.”—Ms. Magazine, 2013

Julianne Moore
“At one point, ‘feminist’ became a pejorative term. How did that happen? If you’re a feminist, you’re basically saying you’re a humanist.”—Sunday Times Style, 2013

“For those of us who were born in the ’60s and came of age in the ’70s, and remember the women’s movement — I mean, my God, birth control wasn’t legal in the US until 1965, I think. That’s insane! And there are girls today who don’t know that. We can talk about glass ceilings, but we have to remember there was a time when there wasn’t even a door. I don’t take any of it for granted for a minute.” —The Guardian, 2010

Zooey Deschanel
“I’m just being myself. There is not an ounce of me that believes any of that crap that they say. We can’t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a f**king feminist and wear a f**king Peter Pan collar. So f**king what?” — Glamour, 2013

Toni Collette
“I’ve recently realized that I really am a feminist. For years people would say to me, ‘You are! You are! You really are!’ And I’d say, ‘No, I’m not. I’m a humanist. I think it’s sexist to say I’m a feminist.’ Now, I see a great imbalance not only in my industry, but also in the world at large. I want to change it.”—Refinery29, 2013

Miley Cyrus

“I’m just about equality, period. It’s not like, I’m a woman, women should be in charge! I just want there to be equality for everybody. I still don’t think we’re there 100 percent. I mean, guy rappers grab their crotch all f***ing day and have hos around them, but no one talks about it. But if I grab my crotch and I have hot model bitches around me, I’m degrading women? I’m a woman—I should be able to have girls around me! But I’m part of the evolution of that. I hope.”—to Tavi Gevinson in Elle, in April, in response to her question, “I’ve read that you consider yourself a feminist. What does that mean to you?”

Tavi Gevinson
“Feminism to me means fighting. It's a very nuanced, complex thing, but at the very core of it I'm a feminist because I don't think being a girl limits me in any way. I think the reason that so many people shy away from the term and prefer to call themselves humanists or whatever is because they think feminism is all about women, but it's a lot about breaking down the social constructs and ideas about gender that oppress all of us, frankly.”—Vogue Australia, 2013

Mindy Kaling
“I'm a feminist who wants to work with other feminists. I would wager that only a masochist sexist would want to work at a show with an opinionated female lead and showrunner. So I work with people who love women. That's a nice thing.”— Rolling Stone, 2013, to Lena Dunham

Ellen Page
“I don't know why people are so reluctant to say they're feminists. Maybe some women just don't care. But how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word? Feminism always gets associated with being a radical movement — good. It should be. A lot of what the radical feminists [in the 1970s] were saying, I don't disagree with it.”—The Guardian, 2013

Amy Poehler
“Yes, I consider myself a feminist, and it informs my work only in that it’s just who I am, in the same way that I’m a woman, or I’m 5’2″ or whatever. I was lucky that I came through a system that had many people who did much more hard work and road clearing before I got there.”—Time Out New York, 2013

And, finally, for those worried about the kids who don't seem to get feminism, take heart: Plenty of really young, really intelligent, non-famous women and men have been fiercely embracing the term lately. That’s thanks to an inspiring campaign — “Who Needs Feminism” — that’s sweeping campuses across the country, from LaGuardia High School in New York City to American University in Washington, D.C. And not everyone taking part has been female. “I need feminism because I will one day have a daughter,” reads one handmade sign, held by a young man. Might want to give that some thought, Shailene.