Why Kirsten Dunst's "Gender Roles" Comment Drives Feminists Up The Wall

Michelle Ristuccia

Kirsten Dunst has angered feminists with her comment supporting traditional gender roles.

"I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued," she told Harper's Bazaar UK. "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 mom created."

"And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armor," continued Dunst. "I'm sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That's how relationships work."

In just a few sentences, the 31-year-old actress hit four major hot buttons that drive feminists up the wall. Lets look at them one at a time.

1) "... the feminine is undervalued." The word 'feminine' is associated with traditional gender roles, where feminine attributes are imposed upon women by society, to separate them from the 'masculine.' Girls wear skirts and boys wear pants. Girls put on make-up in order to attract a mate. Men bring their women flowers. That kind of thing.

Society does have an obsession with appearances, and a double standard for women, as shown by the media's treatment of every women politician versus their male counterparts. So, the word 'feminine' can easily be corrupted to be part of this double-standard, and it is hard to extricate the word from sexism.

2) "...staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking" are valuable things.

There has long been a war within feminism over stay-at-home moms where some feminists claim that choosing to be a mother goes against feminism, even undermines feminist goals. New York Magazine published an explosive article on the subject last year, and the year before that, The Atlantic published a mean-spirited article attacking stay-at-home moms. Women who graduate from college, in particular, aren't allowed to want to stay home to raise families.

Feminists like Stacey Ritzen at UPROXX have sarcastically taken Kirsten Dunst's comment to mean that "women should know that their place is in the home" and that marriages without children are a failure.

Note that what Ms. Dunst actually said is that being a mother is valuable.

The other side of the stay-at-home mom argument is that women should be able to chose their vocations, and motherhood is a worthy endeavor, what with raising our future members of society and all that. In that view, motherhood would indeed be considered "valuable," and, yes, cooking for the family might be part of that.

3) "...sometimes, you need your knight in shining armor." I can't think of anything that feminists hate more than the idea that a woman might sometimes want or need a man for any reason whatsoever, saying that "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

Extreme feminists take this far beyond criticizing the modern fairy tale formula, beyond wanting girls to know that they don't always need a man for everything. Women aren't allowed to enjoy things like chocolate or flowers brought to them on Valentines Day, because that's too traditional. We're not even allowed to like sex, because intercourse is always rape.

Kirsten Dunst is talking here about chivalry, chivalry is good for a relationship. Real chivalry means being considerate of your mate and going out of your way to make them happy - and, yes, sometimes that might mean holding open a door for her, to show her that she is special. If holding open doors or receiving flowers isn't your thing, then your romantic partner will find something else that accomplishes the same goal of nurturing your relationship.

4) "You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman..."

Woah. Hold the phone.

Feminists don't allow for any inherent difference between men and women. Doesn't Kirsten Dunst know? Men and women are equal in every way possible. Never mind the physical and chemical differences that prove in study after study that the average man has different strengths than the average woman - for instance, girls brains mature faster than boys. Yet these differences between the sexes must always be a negative and must always represent inequality. Men aren't free to be men and women aren't free to be women because those terms are restrictive social roles cast upon us by the ignorant masses.

Two people in a relationship should compliment each other. Identifying with your sex to enhance your relationship is a good thing. Traditional gender roles can provide a helpful guideline - when they aren't telling us that women should or must stay home while the man works.

Likewise, feminists can stop telling us what we're allowed to like. Kirsten Dunst is allowed to like her knights in shining armor.

photo credit: Kevin Tostado via flickr