In an in-depth conversation, Woodley spoke to The Daily Beast about the summer weepie, the importance of sisterhood, the first time she smoked weed, and much more.
I’ve spoken with coworkers about this, but with the Time story and the whole media backlash over the feminism question, I really empathized with you because I thought it was a loaded question—because if you say you’re not a feminist these days, the pitchforks come out—and that you were being set up by someone who came into it trying to burn you on that. And the negative reaction to it was surprising because it really seemed to prove your point about the lack of “sisterhood.”
Honestly, I started laughing when I found out. I got a phone call from my publicist because I don’t read anything about me or go on the Internet ever, because it’s such a dangerous hole to get yourself into, but she said, “Heads up, you’re going to do an interview in the next few days and people will ask you about this and blah blah blah.” So I went online and read the article and I started laughing because it’s exactly what you said: Everything I was trying to say that I support in life and that I’m here for was completely counterintuitive to what writer was trying to do.
It really did seem like the writer was trying to burn you on that one.
Completely. And 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. So it made me sadly laugh that a woman who I was trying to say, “Let’s embrace one another,” distinctly chose to do the opposite. But you know what? Everything is out of your control, and you can only be truthful about how you feel.
I was talking about this with one of my close girlfriends because I read it and I was really disappointed and sad, actually, because I do consider myself someone who’s so embracing of women and loves women, and the way the journalist decided to say, “So, Shailene is trying to use men to prove women’s power” or whatever she said was hilarious to me because that’s not what I said at all. But 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. 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. You can go and label each distinct spice, but I know what my flavors are. Once that clicked, I didn’t feel any sadness or disappointment at all anymore because I know how I feel, and I know what I do in the world with other women, and I don’t need to prove that to anyone online.
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