Who Should Feminists Really Hate: Kirsten Dunst or Lady Gaga?

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Feminists are furious with actress Kirsten Dunst. She is being trashed online as “an insufferable person”, “kind of dumb”, and other harsh, expletive-laden phrases unfit for print.

Her sin? During a recent interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK, Dunst dared to speak well of femininity, including the traditional role of a nurturing mother:

“’I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued,” she says. “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…’”

In response, writer Ariane Sommer told Fox 411: “Being open towards being what is considered feminine at times: Yes! But regressing to a 1950s archetype of womanhood: Hell no.’”

The problem with Sommer’s response – and many others – is that Dunst never called for a return to the 1950s. Her allusion to a “knight” sounds like a desire to be treated like a lady. She also said nothing about imposing her personal preferences on anyone else.

So why are some women riled up over Dunst’s saying she prefers traditional gender roles and likes the idea of staying home with her (still theoretical) children? Is it so offensive to favor the company of gentlemen? Or to acknowledge that while professional success can be important, close relationships, especially those with one’s children, can be profoundly more meaningful? For a segment of the population, apparently it is.

Women now earn 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 63 percent of master’s degrees, and 53 percent of doctorates.” By extension, we have more choices than ever before, both personally and professionally. Yet, there are those who insist that there is only one right choice, and it can never include embracing motherhood as a vocation.

Interestingly, this anti-traditionalist outrage seems not to have lashed Lady Gaga, who described herself in a March radio interview as “submissive” to actor-boyfriend Taylor Kinney:

“Oh yeah, he’s [Kinney], like, totally in charge,” she responded when asked about being submissive. “When I’m home I’m, like, shoes are off, I’m making him dinner, you know? He has a job, too, and he’s really busy. I’m in charge all day long. The last thing I wanna do is tell him what to do. We’re just really good friends. It’s not good for relationships to tell men what to do, female listeners who are out there.”

Unlike Dunst, Gaga directs women to note, and potentially copy, what has worked in her romantic relationship. But the Internet hasn’t exploded with charges of negating female empowerment or betraying the sisterhood. Rather, the response has been mild. USA Today epitomized that, reporting Gaga’s words and commenting, “Oh, OK.”

Do the Dunst haters simply expect Lady Gaga to shock, even if that means acting seemingly retro? Or do they not mind her being submissive absent religious reasoning, as in the case of Candace Cameron Bure?

Is Gaga in the clear because she avoided sentimental talk about motherhood, a la Dunst? Or does Gaga get a pass because her cultural contributions include vomit-inclusive performances, so no one believes she’s truly traditional?

The whole point of the feminist movement was to expand women’s life choices. If Kirsten Dunst wants to take time off from acting to raise her future children, then that’s her choice – a choice that hurts no one.

If Dunst’s detractors can respect Lady Gaga’s voluntary submission, surely they can also find a way to accept Dunst’s aspiration to be both an entertainment professional and a mother. After all, motherhood isn’t like doing some forgettable movie; it’s a memorable and noble calling.

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  • I really appreciate how well you stated this. Ideals of what women’s rights and feminism are have been so construed! I remember growing up and wanting to be a wife and mom and being told that was not enough, I had to have a profession as well. I struggled with it for a long time, even going to college for a profession I really didn’t want and wasting thousands of dollars! One unused degree later it has been the best thing for my life, being a wife and stay-at-home mom. The bond I have with my children and my husband is amazing! I always thought feminism was about choosing what you wanted as a woman and not what everyone else wanted. It’s a shame that when that choice is a traditional role, to so many it is wrong. It has been one of the most fulfilling things in my life!

    • Jon

      Lois, I would not call your degree “unused”. It may not have been exploited by the corporate structure, But it is STILL part of what defines you. It was NOT a waste. It was four years of learning who and what you are so you can proudly say you made an “informed decision” to be a MOM……. The highest form of future shaping that there is. Teacher, economist, guidance councilor, nurse, And many other things rolled into one.

    • Michelle

      I wanted to go into space. I was in the second grade and it would be almost a decade before sally ride went. I was told girls were not allowed. I have been a stay at home mom. It is NOT,as some people think, for the lazy.

  • Bill

    Great points in this article… I even wonder though, beyond the statistics… Are women earning more degrees because of feminism and the marginalization of what it means to be a man and what a man is supposed to be? The modern view is that men “just care about beer and sex”. Perhaps the problem is that’s exactly what men are becoming? It couldn’t have been true 150 years ago when man had to provide for his family. I’m not saying it should be at that extreme either, rather that the happy medium where both people are able to celebrate their gender roles would be ideal.

    And as far as Lady Gaga goes, does her statement apply more to being with the modern man, or someone that is more of a “real man”? This falls under “you reap what you sow”…. I don’t think a man is ever supposed to dominate the woman. They’re supposed to be partners.

  • Vicki Bean

    I thought feminists were pro-choice. Or does that only pertain to abortions? No one is forcing these two women to be submissive or to want a ‘knight in their lives.’ It is their choice. I have a degree, two in fact. I worked for some time. But I now choose to be a wife, mother, grandmother. I have all the jobs that I choose. Just because I’m not bringing in a paycheck does not mean that I’m not a valuable, productive member of my family. It’s all about CHOICE and I have made the choice that works best for me. That’s what feminism is supposed to be about. I am very happy and very fulfilled.

  • Deb

    I have a college degree, six kids and a husband. I am proud and happy to have been home raising my kids for 20 years. There is not a more important job in my opinion. I see so many women my age who realize in their 40’s that society has lied to them. What they really want is to be mother’s and wives NOT high powered career women. For some it is too late and for others they struggle with infertility or can’t have the number of children they would like because of their age. They feel betrayed by a society that tells them they need to be just like a man to be his equal. I am an equal to my husband, but I have a different role in our lives. We divide the work of being a family among all of us, some times it falls on me to do a little more and sometimes on him, but neither one is lesser than the other. I am so grateful that my husband has been willing to give up material things to have our beautiful children. We have such a rich life full of love. I couldn’t get that from any office.

  • GOOBER

    I would do anything to marry a woman as beautiful, feminine, strong, smart, AND nurturing as MJ…..I mean Kirsten Dunst and so would 95% of the real men in the world. These man-hating, woman-hating, self-hating feminazis are bitter and hateful. They cannot STAND it when they don’t hear girls & women regurgitating their putrid talking points. Maybe they could do some actual good for women around the world who are mutilated, injured and killed at the hands of whack job Islamist extremists, BUT NO, they scurry into their little rat holes at the mention of supporting those women. Cowards!

  • NeishaB

    I like this article. What I find tragic is that it doesn’t matter how often incidents like this happen, the blatant hypocrisy of the modern feminist movement seems to be completely beyond their comprehension.

    As is typical, modern feminists ignore, detract and outright deride any life approach that doesn’t exactly match their own philosophy. In that, they are some of the most closed-minded, judgemental and egotistical people out there.

    Kirsten, and any other woman out there who makes this decision for herself and her family need to keep standing strong and being honest. Hopefully, one day more people will understand, truly, that empowering women doesn’t mean that all women need degrees, or to be CEOs or doctors, lawyers, or executives. Empowering women means that women should be able to feel satisfied and confident in whatever choices they make in their life.

    Denigrating and detracting from any woman who has made the choice to live her life the way she bests sees fit is abhorrent, and then to resort to name calling and outright trashing her is nothing but sad and pathetic.

  • Deb

    I have a college degree, six kids and a husband. I am proud and happy to have been home raising my kids for 20 years. There is not a more important job in my opinion. I see so many women my age who realize in their 40’s that society has lied to them. What they really want is to be mothers and wives not high powered career women. For some it is too late and for others they struggle with infertility, or can’t have the number of children they would like because of their age. They feel betrayed by a society that tells them they need to be just like a man to be his equal. I am equal to my husband, but I have a different role in our lives. We divide the work of being a family among all of us, some times it falls on me to do a little more and sometimes on him, but neither one is lesser than the other. I am so grateful that my husband and I realized early on in our marriage that we would sacrifice material things to have our beautiful children. We have such a rich life full of love. I couldn’t get that from any office or fancy car.

  • Megan

    I will never understand women who have children and then expect other people to raise them…by choice. My children are my responsibility, and that is a 24 hour a day job.

    • AmyRoseH

      Seriously? Sometimes a mother has to work to earn money to support the family, pay rent, buy groceries, and on and on and on. We don’t all have the luxury of a husband who earns enough to afford us moms to stay home. That’s the reality for a lot of us working moms – so please get your head out of your bum.

  • Bex

    The thought police in full force once again. Step out of lockstep and they attack. These feminists and liberals that perpetuate this name calling climate seem to hate motherhood and anything that has to do with it. Pro-abortion, not pro full time motherhood. There is a pattern here.

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  • Bartleby the Scrivener

    Having choices available does not mean a person will always make choices that the group wants. For some, that means taking care of kids, cooking dinner, and staying home. For others it means going forth and conquering.

    If they don’t make the choices you make, that’s up to them. It doesn’t make them stupid, bad, or wrong any more than their liking foods, clothing, cars, or houses you don’t like makes them those things. It just means they like something you don’t.

    One aspect of freedom is that one able to make choices other people don’t like, as long as it does not interfere with the freedoms of those other people. Kirsten Dunst is doing that. So are the women who choose to go out and do things that differ from her choices.

    Take your choices as you prefer them, Ms. Dunst! Enjoy life to the fullest!

  • Abu Nudnik

    One thing not mentioned (and Paglia would probably concur) is that Dunst probably gets better more satisfying sex than Gaga.

  • D Summers

    It’s so refreshing to hear a celebrity make a statement respecting the traditional role of a woman in the home loving and caring for he family. Good for you Ms. Dunst. I’m so completely sick of most celebs with their far left viewpoints and I boycott most of them. Ms. Dunst just made my “Good Celebrity List” and it’s a small one.

  • Anne

    I see nothing wrong with women being the soul bread winner or the stay at home “50s” wife/mother. Why not be both? I see nothing wrong with an opinion; that’s why we have them. To each his own. I am a mother of three daughters. I work at my kids school as a full time teacher and my husband works a 40 hour work week as well. Every morning my husband gets my kids ready for school and I make breakfast and prepare lunches. In the evenings I make dinner and my husband bathes and gets the girls ready for bed. We make it work. Who says you can’t be a team. I enjoy working, but I also like being able to come home each day after school and be “mum”. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think the whole idea of feminism is outdated. My husband doesn’t cook but I do so does that make me a “traditional” wife/mother? I think that criticizing someone for there opinion when it is something that works for them is ignorant and judgmental. There was a time when feminist movement was something to be encouraged and needed, but I believe that at this day in age and in many countries around the world women can play many roles greater than and equal to that of men. I think that being a mom is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Doing what you love is a good thing and if that means working in the home or out in the world, as long as you enjoy it and thrive in it then “my opinion is” more power to you.

  • Todd A. Meyer

    I appreciate my mother staying home to be a full-time mom when I was very young. She didn’t return to full-time work until I was in grade school (and even then she came in to read to and tutor me and my classmates at the public school I attended).

    My mother was a model, a nurse, an awesome mom and dedicated wife. To this day I have been blessed to be able to call her every day for anything I want or need. The song rings true “I want a girl, just like the girl that married dear old dad.” And if I ever find one like her, I’ll be quick to put the biggest rock I can afford on her finger and worship the ground she walks on.

    I don’t think feminists realize that as women they are UNIQUELY suited to be mothers. As a man, it’s just not an option I have. It’s not that as a father I would love my child any less than their mother, or that a father’s role is any less, but I believe there is a special bond between a woman and child that is absent in the paternal relationship. After all, a mother carries the child INSIDE HER for 9 months(!). As a man I will never have the privilege or opportunity to do such a thing – it is truly unique to motherhood. I would think that something so distinctive about being a woman would be celebrated, rather than scorned by feminists.

  • Mimi Marcus

    Once again, Melissa Langsam Braunstein has come up with a way to challenge our society to think, mull things over and reach a conclusion. Missy: you’re terrific.

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  • moineau

    kirsten never appeared in videos featuring gang-rape as lady gaga has. no, lady gaga has done nothing for feminism or gay rights either… she just uses the themes to make money. not a good role model for girls.

  • Brian

    People need to realize that when the family structure go’s, so does the strength of our nation. Liberalism is a disease that is destroying everything that makes the U.S great. The oxymoron about the whole thing is that we have the freedom to destroy our country with liberalism.

  • BC

    You claim Gaga was directing people to act like her but Dunst wasn’t, when Dunst said that relationships “work” if people assume their pre-ordained gender roles. So actually she is doing the exact same thing Gaga is doing, so I don’t get your point. They’re both saying that relationships only work if people behave like them.

    It’s now hip and edgy to defend vapid anti-feminism, I guess.

    • Rach

      Here, here! I don’t understand how the author missed this. Dunst clearly is making a statement about relationships in general, ‘You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work.’ If she’d used first person here, fine, but what she actually did was make a sweeping generalisation about all relationships, and people have called her up it because it doesn’t ring true for them. Totally reasonable.

      • Gail

        Seriously? I can’t believe I am actually reading these comments. These celebrities are human beings in case you forgot and they have opinions of their own. Because she was speaking about herself and what she wants, but didn’t use the proper grammar, she is doing something wrong? Ridiculous.

        Go ahead, pick apart my grammar as well.

        • summer

          It’s not a matter of grammar, what she literally said was “that’s why relationships work” not that’s why MY relationship works. It was a huge generalization about women’s and men’s roles and how the author or half you people commenting don’t see that is completely beyond me. They were both in the wrong here. What a terrible article, devoid of any logic.

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  • Joyce Brown

    These are some of the most intelligent, egalitarian and equitable comments I’ve found on the internet EVER. Good show people!

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  • Robert

    There is ZERO wrong with what she said. The context is about HER and what SHE thinks. Thought Nazis at work.

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  • BC

    So anybody who disagrees with Dunst is a ‘thought Nazi’? Everybody is expected to agree with her generalization even if they have perfectly happy relationships that do not conform to her opinion? Do you not see the irony in making such a claim? It’s another one of those “free speech means never criticizing someone’s opinion” arguments.

    Traditionalists have been known to respond negatively to those who hold feminist opinions, does that make them thought Nazis? Does their disagreement mean they are trying to silence feminists? Or does this designation only go in one direction?

    • Bartleby the Scrivener

      People who disagree with her are not thought Nazis. People who attack her as a person for having a different preference than they have are thought Nazis. Obviously she’s speaking of what works for her and not what works for everyone. If you cannot see that, I suggest you look a little more closely.

  • Lynx

    Straightforward answer: Gaga is in an abusive relationship. She needs to get out. Not because she feels lead to cook or clean, but that she can’t tell her boyfriend what to do, ever, because he’s a man. Of course, the reverse is not true. Sad that someone who portrays a strong female image has no idea how low her self esteem really is.

    Dunst is a silly little girl who has been brainwashed by the media. Women and men are PEOPLE. Women and men can be however they like, do whatever they like, and act however they like. Women do not need knights in shining armor. Women, just like men, need partners. “Treated like a lady” is also to be treated like a piece of meat. The act of “treating someone like a lady” is simply playing a game until you get to STOP treating her like a lady – have your way with her. It’s the act that drives a woman into the kitchen because “don’t I treat you like a favored item? Shouldn’t that mean you do whatever the hell I want?” It’s wrong. We need partners and friends whom we can relate to. Knights in shining armor become demanding bullies when that armor comes off. It’s not a true or harmonious relationship because one person is presented with lies which enable the other person to have a slave who is easily bought off with candy and flowers if they get too uppity.

    As for why Gaga got no backlash? It’s easy to see that she’s wrong because she’s abused. Her call to arms envokes pity.

    Why rather do we ask Dunst to shut the hell up? Because she’s spewing the exact trash that has created inequality since the dawn of Christianity. We are not prizes to be “treated” a certain way. We’re people.

    It would be nice if she figured that out.

    • GOOBER

      you sound like a sad, bitter little….person. “Because she’s spewing the exact trash that has created inequality since the dawn of Christianity” really? I’m not going to bother quoting scripture that talks about the equality of ALL of God’s children because you’ll just come back with some other to counter it & we all know that’s an endless & boring cycle. I would ask however, ask why you used Christianity as your example of how unjustly women are treated instead of maybe Islam? Can’t go there I guess, or you’re atheist and that’s fine except I know plenty of atheists who “treat” women, men, children, dogs & cats like crap too so I’m afraid you can’t play that card either. I don’t know where you’re from but I can tell you, having been born and raised in the south, the phrase “Treated like a lady” has a very special meaning to us. It’s how all good mamas, mimi’s, great grandmama’s and so on, taught their son’s the right way to treat and respect women and it is not just for show. Are there abusive husbands and boyfriends, well duh. I hope you find a man or woman that “treats” you better, I really do.

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  • JLRC

    Dunst says “you need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman” and “that’s why relationships work.” That is a generalization and why she is being criticized. She suggests that a traditional gender relationship is the reason a relationship would work out and, perhaps, they don’t work out when things are not that way.

    Lady Gaga talks about the dynamics of her relationship and suggests to women that listening is a good idea for a relationship. Great.

    One person is generalizing about “what works” and the other says “this works for me, and this one little thing about listening might work for you too.”

    Feminists aren’t anti-femininity, they’re against nimrods like Dunst saying that society only works when women act a particular way.

  • Charlotte

    Yes, it should be about freedom of choice (and yes, no-one should be shamed for finding fulfilment in a traditional role), but when you make broad statements like “a man should be a man, a woman should be a woman” and “listen gurrrls, do as I do” you AREN’T promoting choice, you’re advising people what to do based off their gender rather than individual preferences and/or relationship dynamics. That DOES deserve to be criticised because you’re promoting the idea that personal decisions should conform to gendered stereotypes and rules – you’re sending a message to young girls and boys that “this is how you have to behave since you have a penis/vagina” and if you deviate from this, you’re at best confused and at worst distorted or immoral. And that is highly regressive and virtually the definition of anti-feminist (it also overlooks the existence of our queer friends, which Gaga claims to be a champion for).

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  • Why Should Feminists Hate

    The title: Who Should Feminists Really Hate: Kirsten Dunst or Lady Gaga? presumes “if you’re feminist, you have to take side in this debate, to hate one of the two.”

    Gee that’s a very authoritarian start, and a hate-mongering one too.

    Lady Gaga never professed to be a feminist. She’s an artist. Which means the only thing she is expected to do for the public is to be authentic, and to entertain. So she claims she acts like a feudal era wife at home. If you choose to take her words for it. Who knows, she’s exhausted from all the envelope-pushing acts and love to take a break with one person she could trust. She also threw her relationship view at the press. But it’s her perogative. Shrug. Not a game changer then. Move on.

    Kirsten Dunst, whom I usually find annoying, also never professed to be a feminist. She a movie star (can’t call her an actress). It’s not her job to preach about relationship, but she did. But she’s also entitled to her opinion and domestic bliss fantasy, however vacuous. Confirms my view of her as a over-rated celeb then.

    Celebs never promised to play our perfect role model. Why should they. Why so much hate. Love yourself.

  • Robin Stach

    No one had an issue with what Lady Gaga said because she referred only to how she does it and not how everyone else should do something. There is a difference between the way a person wants to live his or her life and a person telling others the way that they should live their lives. I also think you seem, like most people unfortunately who only look at one side of things (however the human brain is incredibly malleable and only sees a small fragment of the world so if people understood that then they would be more determined in looking at all sides and unfortunately people are rarely educated on the matter in any formal way), confused as to the difference between misandry and feminism.