Consent is Sexy, and So is Your Mom

There are a lot of pervasive myths in our society about women and sexuality. If you were to take the bulk of film, TV, and advertising at face value, you would likely assume the following:

  1. Men are more interested in sex than women
  2. Women over the age of… let’s say 35… are not sexy
  3. Women who are mothers are not sexy (and should not be sexual)
  4. Women are either deviant sexpots or chaste asexual beings
    • Yes, the Madonna and the Whore dichotomy is alive and well
  5. When women are sexual it’s solely in the interest of pleasing men
  6. Female sexuality is only acceptable when presented by and for men

Unsurprisingly, I’m here to tell you that this is all a load of bullsh*t. Here’s the truth as I see it, based on my lifelong experience as a woman (who is also intimately close to a substantial number of other women).

1 – Oh My God do we love sex. Not all of us, of course, but an awful lot of us really really really love sex.* And – brace yourself – not every man does.

2 – Most women…

Can we sidebar with the disclaimer that yes, I am making generalizations and there are exceptions to every rule and so on and so forth? Agreed? Good. Back to it.

2 – Most women are at their sexiest once they reach their 30s and 40s, for no other reason than we are at our most confident. We are more comfortable in our skin than ever before, having shed the angst and neediness of our twenties. We also know what we want, what we like, and (hopefully) how to express those desires. (Seriously, I think we can all agree that right now, JLo is the sexiest she has ever been.) Speaking of sexy mamas…

3 – I know, I know… you don’t want to think of your mother as a person who has ever been sexual. But guess what? You exist, so. Your mother has had sex.** This inability to separate a woman’s individuality from her identity as A Mother is dangerous for many reasons, but right now we’re focusing on her sexual agency. To wit:

I am a mother. I can see 40 in my not-too-distant future. I am also sensual and alluring, and I love sex.

Not only do I love sex, but I am and always have been a fiercely sexual being. When I consider creating art / working on projects / writing posts like this that embrace and celebrate women’s sexuality, there is a part of me that questions that choice, because I am a mother and according to society… 

4 – I am not allowed to be Charlotte and Samantha at the same time. I am supposed to be one or the other. But the truth is, I am both of those women. I love being a mother and I love sex. And when I consider what I want my daughter to see and experience and know in her core to be true, it is this:

Sexual Expression vs. Objectification – There is An Enormous Difference

– Rape, harassment, sexism, etc… these are not byproducts of women expressing their sexuality. It’s when women are Sexually Objectified that things fall apart. Sexual Objectification diminishes women’s agency over our own bodies and our worth as human beings.

But guess what?

If I want to start an Instagram account celebrating my sexy ass body and my love of lingerie (which is real and profound), it is not an invitation to violate me.

This is what we need to teach our children. That women are allowed to be sexual creatures, and to express our sexuality however we choose, and in a better world we would be able to do so without fear of scorn or (at times horrifying) retribution. Which leads me to my final point:

– Yes, when I express myself in a sexual way, I enjoy and appreciate a positive response. (I’m a Leo, so. Duh.) However, my sexuality is mine and mine alone. If I want to express it privately or publicly, shyly or brazenly, coyly or salaciously, these are my choices. When it comes to my own personal sexual expression, you don’t get to tell me how to behave.***

The patriarchal approach to women’s sexuality is to appropriate it and manipulate it, because – frankly – a woman solid in her own sexual power is terrifying. Patriarchal society only thrives when women are repressed and oppressed, and if you think that isn’t the case today, that we’ve reached any kind of gender parity where sex is concerned, just ask the victims of the college athletes who’ve been in the news lately for sexually assaulting unconscious women. Ask those women if they feel valued. If they feel justice was served after they were robbed of their sexual agency.

For those of you who prefer visual aids, here are some examples of Sexual Expression vs. Sexual Objectification:

Boobs = burgers = boobs are food = Objectification

Proposal = she’ll let you bone her = Objectification

Everything about this = Objectification 

As for Sexual Expression, let’s include those images right here in the post, yes? Because who doesn’t love a little sassy, saucy, sexual agency?

Dita von Teese = Burlesque = Sexual Expression

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.00.35 PM

http://www.dita.net/femme-fatale/gallery

Beyoncé = Boss = Sexual Expression

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.12.03 PM

http://www.beyonce.com/vault/?type=editorial

Gina Rodriguez = Self-Love, Acceptance, and Celebration = Sexual Expression

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.28.19 PM

https://www.instagram.com/hereisgina/

The moral of these musings, my darling rabble rousers, is simple:

Celebrating women’s sexuality and sexual expression = GOOD!
Turning women into sexual objects = BAD

Also, I may just have to start that Instagram account, because there shouldn’t be anything shocking or scandalous about a mother who can see 40 in her not-too-distant future, who is also sensual and alluring, and loves sex.

 

*We possess the only organ in the human anatomy that exists solely for pleasure, for cryin’ out loud!
**She maybe even enjoyed herself. Deal with it.
***Unless of course we have an explicit agreement to that effect, because consent is sexy.

Amy Schumer Feminist Funtimes

Perhaps it was her “Milk Milk Lemonade” video or some of her stand up, or last Friday’s Feminist Funtimes when we discussed the charming notion of what makes a woman f*ckable… or perhaps you still haven’t paid witness to Amy Schumer. Whatever your first exposure to this crass lady of comedy, odds are good that you had a strong reaction to her and her raunchy brand of humor.

Full disclosure: it’s pretty easy to make me laugh. If you’re at all clever, odds are good that I will laugh at your jokes. That being said, I do tend to roll my eyes when I feel like there’s too much Try. If something that’s meant to be funny is also GROSS or CRASS or SHOCKING, then I feel like you’re Trying Really Hard to make me laugh, and instead all you get is this:

eyroll

That was more or less how I felt about Amy Schumer, at first. So much Try. Her comedy reminded me of the diarrhea scene in Bridesmaids – it was funny for a minute, but quickly (for me) became overkill.

But as I’ve seen more and more of what Ms. Schumer is bringing to the table, the more I’m into it. Her comedy is still raunchy (and I would never want her to change that; it’s who she is), and as it turns out, she is also smart as hell and using the fame and attention she’s generating to make funny about some really serious sh*t. Cases in point:

As far as I’m concerned, rape has never been this funny.

Everything about this.

And the latest: this week’s episode of Inside Amy Schumer is a 20-minute remake of the 1950s film 12 Angry Men. Except it isn’t jurors in a room debating the fate of an accused murderer. In this version, the 12 angry (and sweaty) men are debating whether or not Amy Schumer is hot enough to have her own TV show. They also briefly mention the movie she has coming out, which b.t.dubs, looks hilarious.

The full episode, 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer (heh) is available on Comedy Central’s website (you have to log in with FB or Twitter), and I highly recommend watching the whole thing. It is absolutely worth 20 minutes of your life. Not only because it’s funny, but because of why it’s funny. (For more on the why of it, read Duana’s post over at Lainey Gossip; she sums it up quite nicely.)

On that note, while we can’t all produce brilliant comedic sketches around them, we should join the Amy crusade and eschew the beauty standard by hashtagging our so-called faults, or something to that effect. Mine would definitely be #clusterteeth and #stonereyes (and since I’ve been breastfeeding for six months, odds are good I can join the #muppettits club).

Thank you, Amy Schumer, for being funny, for being yourself, and for calling attention to all this bullshit that women are inundated with every single day. I am officially a fan. #loveyourcabbagepatchface

amy-schumer-gq-magazine-may-2014-comedy-women-comedian-funny-01

image copyright GQ magazine

To Feminist or Not To Feminist

Hooray, it’s Friday Feminist Funtimes! Apropos of FFF, the Identifying as a Feminist debate rages on, as does the What Feminism Needs debate, the Feminism is For All debate, and the I’m An Ism You’re An Ism debate. There’s feminist debate fun to be had by all!

Many of you will recall that Emma Watson (#Hermione4Life) recently gave a killer speech at the UN. Initially it received a lot of attention, which is not surprising considering Ms. Watson’s level of celebrity. What was less publicized was the immediate threat that followed, in the form of a website that popped up, featuring a countdown clock and the implication that nude photos of Ms. Watson would be released when it expired.

As mentioned on Lainey Gossip, Ms. Watson’s fierce reaction to this (baseless) threat, her passionate feminism, and her ambitions for the He For She campaign are not sustaining headlines. Odds are far greater that you’ll come across some new form of “OMG She Lost Her Baby Weight!” than updates on the UN’s Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality, even with Hermione as their ambassador.

Sidebar: I mean no offense to Ms. Gran– um, I mean Watson, by ofttimes referring to her as Hermione. On the contrary, having just re-read the HP series (for the third time <– nerd alert), I consider it to be a form of high praise. Should Ms. Watson ever stumble on to the tiny universe of BeautyCoup, I hope she would agree.

Moving on… A breakdown of Hermione’s interview on the Guardian’s website details many of the kick ass things she had to say, and I highly recommend you take a few moments to read it. Immediately following said article, I discovered some thoughts from Roxane Gay about feminism, specifically as it relates to celebrities like Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence embracing the word, ideals, and in Emma’s case, activism.

Fewer of you will be familiar with Roxane Gay. She’s a columnist, an author, and a vocal feminist. I generally like what she has to say, due to the age-old concept of preaching to the choir. But this time around, several things about her article started to make me bristle. Feminism is a movement of inclusion, and her arguments began to sound rather exclusionary. She makes the following points in her article, which I shall address in turn:

  • Celebrity endorsements of feminism are infuriating… Hmm. Disagree. I understand her point that wrapping feminism up in a pretty package to make it more palatable is not ideal. However. Fame is not an aspect of our culture that will ever magically disappear. In this age of information and misinformation, we are more saturated than ever with celebrities – their products, their lives, their children, their relationships, and their causes. How we react to celebrity behavior says a lot about who we are as a society. As I set out to raise my own little rabble-rouser, I would much rather see tons of celebrities (regardless of their appearance, age, or gender) embracing the identity of Feminist. We should not discredit ardent feminists because of how they look. If these young, famous women who meet society’s absurd beauty standards want to use their powers for good, then I say:

amen

  • The rebranding of feminism is not a magical solution… Agree. With a small caveat. Even with the famous pretty faces waving their feminism flags, there are still so many people (so many women!) who are afraid of the word feminist, let alone actually embracing the work of feminism. Again, with all of the information thrown at us on a daily basis, a sharp way of communicating the true meaning and ambitions of feminism isn’t the worst idea.
  • This point I have to quote directly, because it’s the part of Ms. Gay’s article that I struggle with the most:

“This is the real problem feminism faces. Too many people are willfully ignorant about what the word means and what the movement aims to achieve. But when a pretty young woman has something to say about feminism, all of a sudden, that broad ignorance disappears or is set aside because, at last, we have a more tolerable voice proclaiming the very messages feminism has been trying to impart for so damn long.”

To her first point, that too many people are ignorant when it comes to the meaning and movement of feminism: Agree! It’s a huge problem that so many people equate feminist with being anti-man, and the movement of feminism as exclusionary.

To her second point about pretty young women speaking out as feminists: Disagree! Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence and Beyoncé have not eradicated broad ignorance about feminism with their declarations. They are chipping away at that ignorance by speaking out as feminists and, to make my final point, one more quote from Ms. Gay:

“We run into trouble, though, when we celebrate celebrity feminism while avoiding the actual work of feminism.”

Agree. Which is why, when we have someone like Emma Hermione Watson standing up as the face of a United Nations campaign in order to clarify what it means to be a feminist, expose those who might not otherwise hear it to the truths of feminism, and yes, do the actual work of feminism, as far as I see it, that’s something to celebrate.

emma_watson_un

Now I’d like to see this Moment turned into some Serious Action:

beyfeminist

What will it be?? Beyoncé-themed confidence building curriculum for girls in junior high? Beyoncé Love Your Body dance classes?? A Beyoncé Feminism 101 website? I have big dreams, because if anyone can do it, it’s Queen B.

Ps. An FFF Morsel: Julianne Moore stomps on the “mani cam”

We Don’t Care If You Like It

You guys! Hi! It’s been SO LONG!

I’ve missed you, you little rabble rousers, but I’ve been on an extended hiatus because I had a baby. WHAT. I know, right? Bananas. It would be easy to fill several blog posts talking about the insane magical pain cave of wonderment that is childbirth, but that’s for another day and another blog. Some kind of mommy blog. Maybe I’ll do a guest post on one of those someday.

Here and now at BC the topic is of course, as ever, Feminist Funtimes! It isn’t Friday, but did I mention I had a baby? We’re getting our funtimes when and where we can, people.

There’s a lot to cover, and in light of that I’ll keep my commentary to a (relative) minimum.

Firstly, I propose we make this our anthem for 2015. You don’t have to buy the t-shirt, but it couldn’t hurt. For those of you sillies who’ve not read Bossypants, here’s the excerpt where our new anthem originated.

I don’t give a fuck if you like it. – Amy Poehler

It is with Amy’s brilliant mic drop moment in mind that I head into 2015, and I encourage you all to do the same. Whether it’s in your art, your attitude, your daily life, or all of the above, slough off your need to please. Let other people worry about what’s “marketable” or “proper.” You have better things to do. If it feels right, fulfills you, and sets fire to your insides, then do it.*

(*essential lawsuit-avoiding disclaimer: as long as you’re not physically or emotionally damaging those around you)

Now that we’re all duly inspired, here’s a mishmash of feministy delights I’ve curated from the world wide web:

What is this show Outlander and why have I never heard of it? Are you guys watching it? Is it as good and femtastic as it looks?

I’ve always liked Leighton Meester (she’s adorable, has a weird-ass name, and was easily the best part of Gossip Girl), and now I get to love her even more for her no-nonsense quip on calling oneself a feminist.

blair_powerfuk

New goal for 2015: write a screenplay focused on a group of sexy, accomplished women in their fifties, and no, Russell Crowe, I don’t give a fuck if you like it. I’m sorry I ever defended your “singing” in Les Miserables.

While we’re waiting for my sexy middle-aged lady movie to be written, produced, and released, we can watch this documentary! It’s from a while back, but still very relevant considering a dearth of progress regarding sexism in Tinseltown.

Lastly, and most importantly, a huge, rabble rousing THANK YOU to all of you, our darling readers. Our Beauty Coup data stats look better and better with each passing year, and we are ever so humbly grateful to all of you for your comments, questions, and support. In direct conflict with our 2015 mantra, we Do give a fuck if you like it, and it means ever so much to us that you keep coming back for more. Happy 2015!

XOXO,
E

Why You Are A Feminist

Happy Friday Feminist Funtimes, Beauty Coup ruffians!

For starters, I want to acknowledge some late submissions to our Beauty Coup 100 – Celebrating You! post. If y’all keep sending us these great selfies and reasons why you’re awesome, we will keep posting them. It’s always a good time to revel in your fabulousness, you beautiful starfishes.

Angela
“I am beautiful because… I live life with only positive intentions and because I love.” – Angela M.

Lauren
“I am beautiful because there is light. Light is love, light is trust, light is beautiful.” – Lauren M.


***There’s a late submission that I’m saving for our next FFF post, because Liz D. had a lot to say, and I want to address some of her thoughts more fully.

Now on to our FFF topic!

How many of you have ever heard these words uttered (from your own mouth or someone else’s): “I’m not a feminist, but…” ?? Chances are most of us know someone who uses this phrase or its equivalent. For today’s edition of FFF, we’re going to talk about why it’s a bunch of hogwash.

It’s quite simple, really, because the words that often come after the disclaimer are almost always one hundred percent in line with feminist ideology. In nearly every instance where someone proclaims “I’m not a feminist, but…”, what he/she might as well be saying is “I’m a feminist because…”

Let’s look at some prime examples:

“I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women.” – Katy Perry

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.29.53 AM

“I’m not a feminist or anything but I definitely think that it is unfair to allow a woman’s sexual history to be used against her in a trial.” – random student quoted on the interwebs

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.34.32 AM

“I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I’m down for my first opportunity to say something to the world to be so meaningful. If you asked me, ‘What do you want to say?’ it would be, ‘Love yourself more.” – Meghan Trainor

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.34.32 AM

Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

A: “No because I love men, and… I’m very in touch with my masculine side… I’m 50 percent feminine and 50 percent masculine, same as I think a lot of us are… We have to have a fine balance.” – Shailene Woodley

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.47.10 AM

Q: Are you a feminist?

“Absolutely not… I’m a 24-year-old woman that lives in the United States and feels like I should be treated the same as anyone else.” – Katherine Fenton

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.55.28 AM

“…women are just as capable… I believe in equal rights…” – Marissa Mayer (‘not’ a feminist)

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.59.09 AM

As a brief reminder, here is the actual definition of feminism, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:

fem·i·nism

noun \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

PLEASE NOTE: Nowhere in this definition does it say that feminists believe that women are superior to men. Women who believe that they (we) are superior to men are not feminists, they’re sexists. (Are we fighting now? I’d love to hear from those who disagree; tell me why I’m wrong!)

So really, what all of these women are expressing are Feminist Values. What they’re also saying is that while they believe in such values, they’re also afraid of/don’t like/have stigmatized ideas about the word Feminist. It’s the very root of our patriarchal society that presents Feminist as a dirty, extremist, man-hating, pinko commie, witchy, lesbionic word. Which, as we’ve just covered, it isn’t.

***To be clear, a feminist can Also be dirty, extreme, a communist, a witch, and/or a lesbian. But a feminist cannot hate men based on their gender alone, because that is the definition of sexism. (Seriously, we can totally fight about this. I’d love to hear your arguments.)

If you’re still confused, or know someone who is, here’s a handy chart that should clear things up once and for all:

feminist-diagram

Anyone feeling uppity about “And you probably suck as a person”? If so, riddle me this: If a person doesn’t believe in equal rights and opportunities for men and women, then that person believes in the inherent superiority of one gender over another, right? (i.e., that person is sexist) …Is that someone you want to hang out with, or do they probably suck?

So, once more, with gifs!

Believing in the inherent superiority of one gender over another:
sexism

Believing in the inherent equality of all people, regardless of their gender:

rulesoffeminism

xoxo,
E

Women of a Certain Influence

For not the first, nor I suspect the last, time in my life, I have been pegged as a Bad Influence. The only detail I want to highlight here is a single common thread: each time I’ve been slapped with that label, it’s because the woman who I’m purportedly influencing has started to show signs of confidence, tenacity, and self-worth.

As much as I’d like to, I can’t take credit for these evolutions. None of us is powerful enough to fundamentally change another human being. Any moxie and/or gumption rearing its wild-eyed head can only be attributed to each of these women finding and deciding to make use of her long-stifled voice. If I played any part in helping her get there, then all I can say is: hoo-ah, hells yes, bully for me!

This also got me thinking about all the names and phrases thrown at me over the years, dripping with judgement, disdain, and acrimony. So I made a word cloud! It’s just a fun little sampling of the labels and monikers I’ve been branded with. You’ll notice that my cloud includes both prude and slut and a few words in between, because if there’s one thing people love to do for women, it’s define our sexual behaviors for us. #patriarchy

Some of these words were hurtful at the time, others have always proved a consistent source of amusement, and many I wear with pride. Every one of them has undoubtedly molded me into the woman I am today.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 11.34.48 AM

Know what else I am?

not sorry

#notsorry

So here we are, on this afternoon of ye old Friday Feminist Funtimes, faced with the delightful prospect of celebrating women of a certain influence. As a good little feminist, you’ve almost certainly heard the quote “Well behaved women seldom make history”, which is frequently misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt or Marilyn Monroe. It was in fact a statement made by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who coined the phrase in an academic paper in 1976, and later went on to write a book of the same name.

In honor of all lady misfits, hotheads, and rabble rousers, I dedicate this post to some of my favorite women – both historic and contemporary – who have, without a doubt, been a very, very bad influence on me.

Jenji Kohan
Even if you already know and love her, and especially if you don’t, read this.

Zoe Saldana
For tellin’ it like it IS.

Bella Abzug
Many, many great things resulted from my 1995 trip to China for the UN’s 4th World Conference on Women, but meeting Bella Abzug was by far one of the greatest.

This woman.

S will be happy to see me acknowledge Lena Dunham here, because I’ve just got to give it to her. Girl is ruffling a lot of feathers.

Grace O’Malley aka Gráinne Mhaol – Pirate Queen
Almost all of my ancestors are from Ireland. I like to believe that she’s one of them.

Happy Friday Feminist Funtimes, Beauty Coup rebels! Who are some of your favorite badly behaved women? Tell us in the comments or shoot us an email: reallivingbeauty@gmail.com

Keep fighting the good fight.

buffy-vampire-slayer2

Friday Feminist Funtimes: To Shailene or Not Shailene?

The thing about writing a blog centered around bolstering positive body image and dissecting representations of women in the media, is that one never finds oneself lacking in topical content.

There’s the power of the Book Girls and the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign to consider, or the practice of using T&A as click-bait for feminist articles to discuss. Endless consideration could be given to the horrifying, violent, misogynistic rampage of the UC Santa Barbara shooter – further evidence that sexism isn’t just, like, totes annoying, but is in fact fuel for brutal, savage acts against women.

These are all subjects that deserve our time and attention, and may one day be broached on Beauty Coup, but today we’re going to talk about Shailene Woodley. This is Friday Feminist Funtimes, after all, and Shailene Woodley is causing a real fuss about the word ‘feminist’ and what it means to Shailene Woodley.

For those of you wondering “what’s a Shailene Woodley?”, here’s a quick primer:
She’s a young actress who first got attention as George Clooney’s tiresome teenage daughter in The Descendants. She’s also on the verge of some mega-stardom with two huge films out this year: she’s the lead in both Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, two extremely popular YA novels.

In addition to her film successes, Shailene is also known for being an outspoken hippie vegan who shuns labels, loves mushroom powder, enjoys sunbathing her vagina, and doling out hugs “…so you know I’m real, and then you’re real too.”

This is Shailene:

source: http://www.fansshare.com/gallery/photos/12135811/shailene-woodley-image/
source: http://www.fansshare.com/gallery/photos/12135811/shailene-woodley-image/

This is what Shailene has said about feminism…

From an interview with Time magazine:

Is she a feminist? “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. 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.”

Then she went on to clarify these thoughts with The Daily Beast:

“…the word “feminist” is a word that discriminates, and I’m not into that. I don’t think there has to be a separation in life in anything. For me, bringing up the whole “sisterhood” thing was about embracing each other’s differences. Embrace my point of view even if it’s different from your point of view, but see that our end goal is the same. The way that we’re getting there might be different, but as long as we approach life with kindness and compassion, that’s all that matters.

I was talking about this with one of my close girlfriends… 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. If you need in your own mind to say that I’m a feminist so you better understand where I’m coming from and what my ideals mean, then that’s for you. Labels are for people to understand one another, not for us to understand ourselves. I know where my cayenne sits in my spice cabinet.”

The unequivocal Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip recently posted a link to a summary of Shailene’s views on Celebitchy, alongside the statement, “I think Shailene Woodley is a dumbass. Do we agree on this?”

Do we agree?

I agree that substituting the word feminism for sisterhood or even humanism is a bit of an eye-roll-inducing cop-out. But, I’m a decade older than Shailene. I am of the Righteous Babe era, when so many of us wore Feminism as a proud badge of honor and courage and sometimes outright warfare. Not with the battle cry of We Are Superior, but rather We Are Not Objects, We Have Just As Much Value And Worth As You. I want her to own the label because to my mind, feminism is misunderstood, in part, because so many feminists are afraid of embracing the term.

I agree with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who defines feminist as “a person who believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes.” It’s that simple. If you believe in those things, then you are a feminist. It irks me when Shailene claims that feminism is divisive, discriminatory, and intent on raising women above men. To imply that loving men = can’t be a feminist, or being in touch with one’s masculine side = can’t be a feminist is pure idiocy. So in that sense, I agree that she sometimes sounds like a dumbass. Or at least like someone who has completely misconstrued the message and intent of feminism.

What I do love about Shailene is that she’s an atypical starlet and a contrary voice in Hollywood, aka a sea of predominantly indiscernible young female voices. As much as I brandish the label of Feminist, I agree that labels can sometimes be more trouble than they’re worth, and that we often take them on more for others than for ourselves. For example, I don’t need to label my sexuality for myself, but when people become very inquisitive I choose to give them the word queer. I use that word precisely because it requires explanation and sparks conversation, and because neither straight nor gay nor bisexual encompasses who I am. So if Shailene continues to shun the label of feminist and it continues to trigger tête-à-têtes with a young Hollywood actress about feminism (instead of just her diet or her love life or her fashion sense), well then bully for Shailene.

Another reason I do not agree that Shailene is a dumbass, is because in spite of her distaste for Feminist she is broaching really important feminist topics, even in polite company. When she appeared on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon asked her about being compared to Jennifer Lawrence. Because of a piece in NY Magazine, we know that this portion of the segment ultimately didn’t air because of Shailene’s response. First of all, she said, “Well… Comparisons always lead to despair.” And then the audience booed her. I don’t understand why that answer called for booing. But there it is, our collective consciousness. “What’s wrong with comparisons?? JLaw is Awesomesauce!”

Shailene went on to say:

“As women, we are constantly told that we need to compare ourselves to a girl in school, to our co-­workers, to the images in a magazine… How is the world going to advance if we’re always comparing ourselves to others? I admire Jennifer Lawrence, but she’s everyone’s favorite person to compare me to. Is it because we both have short hair and a vagina? I see us as separate individuals. And that’s important. As women, our insecurities are based on all these comparisons. And that creates distress.”

That right there is the opposite of dumbass. Those are valuable insights into how women are perceived and scrutinized and pitted against each other. I suspect this didn’t make the final cut of the interview not because Jimmy Fallon has issues with gender politics, but because gender politics do not jive in the Crackle Happy Pop world of The Tonight Show. Which is a shame, because we’d all be a little better off with some challenging of the status quo served up next to our double turtleneck ping-pong.

Shailene is young. She knows what her truth is at 22. As a fellow outspoken, opinionated woman, I sure as f*ck knew my truth at 22, too. And like most of us who’ve been through our 20s, my truth has changed a bit since then. Shailene’s truth is very likely to evolve over the next five to ten years, and even if she occasionally sounds like a dumbass, I for one hope she keeps talking about it.