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Kirsten Dunst, Gender Roles and Femininity

Hello friends! I hope you all are enjoying your Sunday. Maybe the weather’s nice and you’re getting some warm spring sun. Maybe you’re getting some long needed errands out of the way. Maybe you’re like me and are happily catching up on the news that may have slipped your radar the past few days.

I always find it interesting to see what exactly is trending outside of breaking news. I find it really telling of today’s social climate what exactly people care to talk or argue about. More interestingly is when feminism and feminist rhetoric rises to the surface of ongoing conversation. Today I’ve been reading about Kirsten Dunst and her recent comments in Bazaar magazine.

Dunst, star of big budget films like the Spiderman franchise and indie flicks like Melancholia alike, was recently interviewed by the fashion magazine and candidly expressed her views on gender roles:

“I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued. We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it’s a valuable thing my mum created. And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armour. I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work.”

Jezebel writer Erin Gloria Ryan was among the first to respond with her post Kirsten Dunst Thinks Ladies In Relationships Should Wife the F*** Out, “Kirsten Dunst is not paid to write gender theory so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that she’s kind of dumb about it.” Many soon followed suite and all over the internet shots were fired right and left including Movie Pilot’s Kirsten Dunst Offends Millions by Having Her Own Opinion, Uproxx’s Kirsten Dunst Thinks That Women Should Know Their Place Is In The Home, and Western Journal’s Feminists Go Bonkers Over Kirsten Dunst’s One, Simple Comment.

Now, this is a feminist blog so I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge I’m coming into this with a certain bias. In response to Dunst’s comments I realize that this is one privileged woman’s opinion. I don’t mean to affirm or discredit her opinion, but simply acknowledge that she’s indeed entitled to her own opinion. However, the blanket statement she makes about femininity begs to be challenged.

I think back upon my previous posts about gender-neutral toys and argue that the feminine is not undervalued at all. A girl can’t want to play with a Nerf Bow until it’s been feminized with flowers and socialized feminine colors, likewise in Dunst’s argument a woman can’t feel like a woman until she’s a mother, and a dependent, stay-at-home mother at that. Socialized femininity, the true femininity Dunst is referring to, is overvalued. Likewise, the freedom to choose femininity is not anti-feminist.

I and other writers have stressed this in previous posts time and time again that we cannot live under socialized gender roles. The point that many anti-feminist pundits miss is that feminists don’t care if a woman chooses to be a stay-at-home mom or an aspiring business women, but that she and any woman like her has the choice to be either or, without being remanded or praised for their decision. The point is that her choice would just be accepted not expected.

This topic is getting me hot and bothered and I want to talk some more. Leave a comment and tell me what are your thoughts? On Dunst. On gender roles. On the media. Anything, I just want to hear from you.

2 Responses to “Kirsten Dunst, Gender Roles and Femininity”

  1. SpongebobBloggerpants

    “In response to Dunst’s comments I realize that this is one privileged woman’s opinion. I don’t mean to affirm or discredit her opinion, but simply acknowledge that she’s indeed entitled to her own opinion. However, the blanket statement she makes about femininity begs to be challenged.”

    “Likewise, the freedom to choose femininity is not anti-feminist.”

    “The point that many anti-feminist pundits miss is that feminists don’t care if a woman chooses to be a stay-at-home mom or an aspiring business women, but that she and any woman like her has the choice to be either or, without being remanded or praised for their decision. The point is that her choice would just be accepted not expected.”

    Yes, yes, and YES. These three excerpts from your post struck me dead. SO incredibly well-spoken. I really respect the way you are inclusive of multiple viewpoints, yet still find a way to slip in your opinion. The points you make, that: “The freedom to choose femininity is not anti-feminist” and “she, and any woman like her, has the choice to be either or, without being remanded or praised for their decision” really encompasses a concept that a lot of people, specifically feminists, miss.

    I believe that it crucial for feminist activists to “check” themselves, and break-out of the tendency to think about things in one way. There are so many dimensions of feminism–it would be a pity to limit ourselves to just one. This is an awesome post that encourages people to evaluate things in a multitude of ways. Bravo! I really enjoyed reading.

    Reply
  2. jonolan

    Contrariwise, I completely agree with Dunst’s assertions, especially that the feminine is undervalued in today’s Feminism-infected society. Whether you want to admit it or not, a woman being feminine and nurturing is lambasted and derided more often than not.

    On the other hand, you’re right about the nature of the children’s toys. When you combine that expectation for childhood with the opposing expectation for adulthood, it seems really unhealthy to me. More so even than picking either side and sticking with it through the whole of lifetime.

    Reply

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