Dear Shailene: Feminism is Awesome

Suggestions on what books Shailene Woodley might read to understand why she's a feminist after all.


With the rise of the internet, it’s hard to miss when a public figure says something outrageous in an interview. Twitter and Facebook, not to mention blogs and comment boards, have made everyone a commentator on every aspect of public life. Shailene Woodley’s recent comments about feminism of course were going to cause an uproar. I mean, when a young woman seems to give rise to misconceptions of feminism by reciting quotes that would make anti-feminist crusader Phyllis Schafly proud, everyone is going to have an opinion.

I am no exception.

Ah, feminism. That concept that so many Americans don’t seem to understand.

In case you missed it, Woodley gave an interview to Time where she made some interesting comments about her status as a feminist or not:

“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.”

It would be one thing if Woodley were not a feminist by saying she believes men should dominate their wives and continue a patriarchal tradition long held in America. It’s another when she contorts the definition of feminism into a radical misinterpretation and ignores the fact that what she describes – balance – is what the vast majority of feminists aspire to.

I’ve pulled together a list of some books I think Woodley might be interested in reading, books that enlighten the reader about what feminism really is. Or, dear reader, books that might enlighten you about the more interesting aspects about women’s struggles for equality.

Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks

Feminism is For Everybody

Shailene, in this book you’ll find that feminism is for everyone – man, woman, child, black, white, space alien, protozoa, and so on. Feminism isn’t just about putting woman above man. It’s about equality. It’s about balance, which it seems you are wanting. Start here on your path to self-acceptance of Shailene Woodley, unabashed feminist young woman.

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

Are you feeling a little philosophical today, Shailene? De Beauvoir is one of the most renowned philosophers ever, particularly due to her work The Second Sex where she tackles the differences between sex and gender, how women are oppressed, and how men perceive women incorrectly. A foundation work on understanding feminism.

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus

Or maybe you want to read something a little more recent with stuff you can relate to. Try Girls to the Front and learn more about the riot grrrl movement – young women who mixed punk rock with themes like the patriarchy, rape, domestic abuse, and so forth. But beyond music, they were women who stood up for women as activists and creators. Plus, they were awesome.

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

The Vagina MonologuesImage source: Ticketmaster

You’re an actress, Shailene, so I think you might enjoy this play, a collection of monologues about life as a woman – menstruation, rape, sex, love, and more. It celebrates everything about being a woman, and is proud about everything that makes women so special. It’s also a good place to see where sometimes feminists get a bad rap, an occasional issue with this piece. Ensler is a little anti-man at times.

So here we go, Shailene. These four books are going to start you off on the right path toward understanding and accepting the fact that you seem to be a proud feminist. Accept it and enjoy it, because equality is awesome, and as a woman in Hollywood, you of anyone should know about the differences in treatment between men and women in pay, acceptance, opportunities, and treatment. And to you, dear reader, I hope you enjoy some of these books, too. If you have more suggestions for what Shailene might read, please let me know in the comments!


  1. I would straight up tell Shailene – and every woman – to avoid Eve Ensler, particularly after her exploitation of women who suffered from female genital mutilation in Africa. She’s the worst of White Feminism.

    If she wanted something a bit more modern, I’d be tempted to go with The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti, which was a big lightbulb moment for me as a teen. Audre Lorde’s a must too, and the same for Kimberle Chenshaw’s work on intersectionality.

    I’ve no beef with Shailene pulling the “I’m not a feminist” card, as rubbish as it is, because our culture teaches women to look at feminism as something dirty and it can be hard to overcome societal brainwashing, especially in the industry she’s in. I just wish she’d stop talking about putting vitamin D in her vagina. It’s too much information, bullshit science and shows a basic misunderstanding of yeast infections.

  2. I miss the Riot Grrrrllll period. We need to bring back the early 90s political awareness and discussions about a host of social issues, not just the state of feminism.


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