Shailene Woodley and the fault in our sisterhood

Shailene Woodley, actress best known for her roles in Divergent and The Fault in our Stars recently stirred up a lot of controversy with her answer to ‘Are you a feminist?&r

Shailene Woodley, actress best known for her roles in Divergent and The Fault in our Stars recently stirred up a lot of controversy with her answer to ‘Are you a feminist?’

Woodley answered: “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.”

Her answer has prompted a lot of critics to brand her response ‘disappointing.’ However, her reply has drawn attention to one of the key issues surrounding feminism – that women seem to shy away from the association for fear of being branded a ‘man-hater.’

But that’s not what feminism is about – feminism is about equality, not a world run by women. That’s not what we’re fighting for – we’re fighting for equal rights, equal respect and equal treatment. It’s a common misconception that feminists want to overthrow men and just sit back and criticise them for each and every masculine attribute, but that’s really not the case.

Petty cases

Although Woodley’s definition of feminism is a little different from the actual cause, she did touch on something that I think a lot more of us can agree on; My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism. I don’t know how we as women expect men to respect us because we don’t even seem to respect each other.

There’s so much jealousy, so much comparison and envy. And “This girl did this to me and that girl did that to me.” And it’s just so silly and heartbreaking in a way.

Now this, this is something that women can band together on. Feminism should be a united force, women coming together and fighting for what they believe in, fighting to stop the question of ‘but what was she wearing?’ in rape cases, fighting for equal pay, fighting to end the superficial judgements of appearances of which men are exempt, fighting to stop the groping, the lewd comments and the inappropriate suggestions which are passed off as ‘compliments’ or ‘banter.’

Come together and stand united

But how can we complain that women are objectified and judged too harshly by their physical appearances when weekly magazines draw big red circles around our flaws, when girls gather together and mock-gasp at the size 16 who dared to bare her arms and legs, when childish comments on social media are twisted into World War Three.

That is not jealousy. That is cruelty. That is unkindness and pettiness in its most basic, playground form.

There seems to be the perfect idea of what a ‘real’ feminist or a ‘real’ woman should be, and the most trivial, petty reasons are pounced on like prey and ripped to shreds. Unfounded, unfair claims like ‘But you can’t be a real feminist if you wear a push-up bra, or make-up, or remove your body hair. You’re doing that for men, not yourself,’ or ‘You’re not a real woman if you don’t have curves. If you’re slim or don’t have breasts that are the bodily equivalent to beach balls, then you don’t count.’

The worst part? Women are making these claims ABOUT EACH OTHER. How can we say these things to each other and expect to be treated not just as equals, but as adults?

Sisterhood is not an army of copycat clones who are all fighting for each other’s approval – sisterhood is banding together as a community who support and encourage each other to grow, who are standing as one for a united cause, who celebrate achievement and give help to those who need it.

I may not agree with Shailene’s view on feminism, but that’s her view and one she is entitled to. But I could not be more in agreement with her views on sisterhood, because female unity is still being torn apart on a daily basis.

Like Shailene said – how can we expect men, society, or the corporate world to respect us if we don’t respect each other?

What do you think? Do you agree? Have your say in the comments section below.