Politics & Policy

Feminists Attack Kirsten Dunst Over Her Gender Preference

Kirsten Dunst plants a kiss in Spider-Man.
In the 21st century, it’s wrong for a woman to like a man.

The actress Kirsten Dunst shared some thoughts about femininity and relationships in the May issue of the U.K. edition of Harper’s Bazaar. As is now standard when women celebrities voice more-traditional opinions on such topics, Dunst’s views were immediately met with mockery and derision on feminist blogs and Twitter.

“I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued,” she told the fashion magazine. “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.”#ad#

The star of Interview with the Vampire and the Spider-Man franchise continued: “And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armor. I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work.”

Under the headline “Kirsten Dunst Thinks Ladies in Relationships Should Wife the F*** Out,” a Jezebel blogger wrote that Dunst, an “actress and blonde who looks good in clothes,” is “not paid to write gender theory so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that she’s kind of dumb about it.”  

Granted, if Kirsten Dunst were a paid gender-theory writer, she would probably not have expressed the sentiments she did. She is speaking from her own experience of life and culture, without the benefit of insights gleaned from blogging about feminism for a living.

This is clear from the language Dunst used. “I feel like . . .” is the way members of her generation signal that they are about to offer a tentative and subjective opinion. Dunst expresses appreciation for the work that her stay-at-home mother did and makes the obvious observation that such work is sometimes undervalued in our culture.

Undervalued, and often misrepresented. The writer Ariane Sommer, in reaction to Dunst’s comments, told Fox News that “people nowadays have to make a living and simply can’t afford the luxury of spending the entire day at home.”

Actually, for many families, it makes economic sense for a parent to provide full-time child care rather than paying someone else to do it, given the cost of day care, transportation, and taxes on additional family income. Most stay-at-home mothers are middle-class; they are not indulging in a “luxury.” As the New York Times has reported, Census Bureau data show that “65 percent of married women who stay home with children under 18 years old live in households that earn less than $75,000 a year.”

In any case, Dunst did not say, “Women should know their place is in the home,” as one blog headline claimed. She actually said, “We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money.”

About romantic relationships, Dunst was more categorical. Some critics interpreted the statement that “you need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman” for a relationship to work as being disparaging of gays. The theory here is that this claim is exclusively applicable to heterosexual couples. By that standard pretty much all relationship advice offered in women’s magazines is insulting to gay people.

Where Dunst really hit a nerve was in touching on a dynamic that has bedeviled modern women: how to reconcile their desire for an equal partnership with their desire to maintain gender differences in their relationships. Anyone who doubts this is a live issue — at least for upper-middle-class educated women — needs to take a look at the pages of The Atlantic and the New York Times, or contemplate the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey sold 50 million copies in this country.

Dunst is just as qualified to offer an opinion on that subject as anyone who thinks she’s insufficiently schooled in gender theory.

— Katherine Connell is an associate editor at National Review.

Most Popular


In Defense of the Electoral College

Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing chorus within the Democratic party in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. Speaking at a forum in Mississippi on Monday night, Warren said that she hoped to ensure that “every vote matters” and proposed that “the way we can make that happen is ... Read More

Stick a Fork in O’Rourke

If, as I wrote last week here, Joe Biden may save the Democratic party from a horrible debacle at the polls next year, Beto O’Rourke may be doing the whole process a good turn now. Biden, despite his efforts to masquerade as the vanguard of what is now called progressivism, is politically sane and, if ... Read More
National Security & Defense

In Defense of the Iraq War

Today is the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and Twitter is alive with condemnations of the conflict -- countered by precious few defenses. Yet I believed the Iraq War was just and proper in 2003, and I still believe that today. When Donald Trump condemned the war during the 2015 primary campaign and ... Read More

The War on Red Caps Roars On

Three recent prosecutions suggest that President Trump’s supporters who have endured abuse and violence for wearing “Make America Great Again” hats will receive justice. Police arrested Ryan M. Salvagno, 19, of Somerset, N.J., on February 27. Two days earlier, authorities say, he hounded an ... Read More