Shailene Woodley Doesn’t Like Labels, Therefore Won’t Identity as a Feminist
The 23-year-old quirky, nature-loving actress opened up about not being a feminist to the magazine, but her views may not be quite as negative or eccentric as they first appear.
She told the magazine that it all comes down to labels, saying “The reason why I don’t like to say that I am a feminist or I am not a feminist is because to me it’s still a label. I do not want to be defined by one thing. Why do we have to have that label to divide us?”
Though by its definition, feminism means “the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” Woodley’s point is that, “We should all be able to embrace one another regardless of our belief system and regardless of the labels that we have put upon ourselves.”
On playing a character like Tris, she says it’s also personal for her:
Tris was not born a superhero, but what I love about her is that you can watch her progression into a strong young woman. Whenever I go back to playing Tris, I feel like, yes, I’m going back to Tris, but I am also going back to Shai and who Shai was in 2012, and who she was in 2014. If I hadn’t changed, it would be easier…but the last two years have been very powerful for me. I’m starting to empower myself.
She added, “When fear comes knocking on [Tris’s] door, she doesn’t run away—she stands up to it…. And I thought that was a really beautiful message to be sending out to young women.”
Woodley, who came onto the scene with The Secret Life of the American Teenager, also touched upon growing up.
She said, “Two years ago it was very easy for me to understand and also emotionally tell the story of a 16-year-old, and now, I feel like I could not tell that story as truthfully because I just can’t empathize with it. I’m not there on an emotional level anymore.”
As for celebrity culture, Woodley, a verified A-lister, added candidly, “I mean, if we spent as much energy focusing on the genocide that’s going on right now in parts of Africa as we spent on that one article, think about what we could accomplish. Change is not going to come from focusing on the small things that actors say.”
Woodley first voiced her opinion on feminism back in May 2014. She told Time,
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…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.
But those comments were taken out of context bit, and Woodley clarified what she meant to The Daily Beast, saying:
I was talking to my close girlfriend about it and she said, ‘Listen, Shae: labels are labels. I don’t need to label myself because I know who I am.’ That clicked for me really hard, and it was this defining moment in my life that I’ve taken with me and encourage others to do the same. Labels are for other people to understand us, so for me, I know how I feel and I don’t need to call myself a’feminist’ or ‘not a feminist’ because I know what my truth is.