Dillan DiGiovanni says Kirsten Dunst’s “manly” definition of men is limiting and offensive.
You may have missed the latest news about Hollywood actress, Kirsten Dunst. She shared some revealing insight and a strong opinion about what’s necessary to make relationships work: namely, men must be really “manly”.
In an interview in the May issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK, Dunst shared her more traditional view on relationships, “”And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armour,” continued Dunst, whose exes include Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, and Justin Long. “I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s how relationships work.”
I read this repost on the website for USweekly magazine. The article shared how Dunst’s opinion was offensive to feminists.
I saw something completely different.
I saw the limits it placed on men, and the ways men are able to express themselves. I saw a narrow and limiting definition of manhood and masculinity.
I saw the reason why transgender and genderqueer individuals struggle for acceptance in society and love for themselves, when the binary of distinct male and female gender roles keeps being reinforced in peoples’ minds with articles such as this one.
This is how we are affected and shaped by our culture. A mainstream media outlet shares a story about a high-profile, young woman’s take on what a relationship “should” look like and who people need to be and how they need to act to make it work. It then listed her former partners, Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Justin Long, perhaps indicating in some way that those individuals are less “manly” because they didn’t work out with Dunst?
Tobey Maguire, a long-time and outspoken vegan who is happily married with two children.
Jake Gyllenhaal, a heterosexual actor who chose to play a gay man in a major Hollywood film during the highpoint of his career.
I don’t know any great factoids about Justin Long but these tiny tidbits I did know about Maguire and Gyllenhaal tell me they are sensitive men who think and live outside the boxes of mainstream society. They seem to be the kind of men we need as role models.
I looked up the word “offend” to see if I was really offended by Dunst’s statement. It feels very ego-based, so I wanted to make sure I really understood the word. Here’s what dictionary.com had to say:
verb (used with object)
Those definitions resonated with me. I felt offended by Dunst’s limiting definition of what it means to be a man and how a man has to behave to make a relationship (with a woman) work. She’s entitled to her opinion, sure, but comments like this set us all back a bit and stall the hard work folks are doing to redefine manhood.
It amazes me when some young people (Dunst is 31) still promote and esteem such archaic definitions of relationships and gender roles. It shows we still have a long way to go. When people like Dunst say things like this, it tells us where we are in history. They are like a measuring stick, a ruler, of how far we’ve come and how much we have left to go before people feel free and secure to be their true selves.
We’ve made progress but Dunst’s opinion offended far more than feminists, fans and followers of gender theory. She offended men and other people who live outside the “manly” box and all the people who love and cherish them for the unique beings they are.
Also by Dillan DiGiovanni:
—Photo Nan Palmero/Flickr