Feminism | Posted by Emily Jane G on 09/17/2012
Dealing With A New Type of Feminist Stereotype
Traditionally, feminists were stereotyped as single, lesbian, non-shaving, bra burning, angry women and while to an extent the feminists of today have this pre-notion of what a feminist looks like to combat, it seems that feminist stereotypes today are evolving into something slightly different. In the present, it seems people see feminists as angry women just looking for something to be angry about, they are women who can’t take a joke, women who are bitter towards one ex-boyfriend and are taking it out on all of mankind. Stereotypes and incorrect assumptions have the power to destroy a movement so it’s important to talk about them and rid people of these beliefs about what a feminist is or isn’t.
Many people cannot see the relevance of feminism in today’s society; because we can vote and work and get divorced, they believe that the goals of feminism have been reached and that anyone who calls themselves a feminist today is someone who wants an excuse to be annoyed. This particular stereotype arises from sheer ignorance; simply because they personally do not understand why feminism is still very much relevant today, it must be irrelevant to everyone. However, I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you know why feminism is still needed today and that makes fighting this stereotype easy. When someone tells you you’re getting angry for no reason, you can fight back with your knowledge that you are indeed not getting angry for no reason. Whether you talk about the fact there’s still a significant wage gap between men and women or talk to them about the daily harassment women face when they leave the house, as a feminist, there’s plenty of reasons that mean you know feminists aren’t looking for an excuse to be angry, they’ve been given one.
The idea that a feminist is a woman who can’t take a joke seems to stem from feminists taking issue with sexist “women belong in the kitchen” style jokes. Jokes are meant to be funny, and I’ve yet to hear a “make me a sandwich” joke which is actually funny, it’s nothing to do with me or feminists as a group not being able to take a joke. The thing is, when you make a joke about a serious issue, in this case, sexism, you trivialise it. By turning it into something that is meant to be laughed at, you take away from the seriousness of it. When someone tells you feminists can’t take a joke, it’s time to point this out to them and it always helps to have a genuinely funny joke up your sleeve as well, to demonstrate you do recognise humour when you hear it.
The assumption that feminists have often taken to feminism as a means of revenge on their ex-boyfriend is a rather frustrating one. The idea that a woman can’t function without a man is one of the reasons that feminism as an institution does still exist. Not only do people seem to think that a woman falls apart at the end of a relationship, but she also decides she hates all men because of this and many people see this as a point when women turn to feminism. To dispel this ridiculous notion, it’s important to educate people that feminism is not equivalent to hating men. Feminism is all about equality for everyone, no matter what their gender is. Once people start understanding what feminism actually is, they might stop equating it with so called crazy women who hate all men just because one boyfriend upset them once upon a time.
By all means, I haven’t touched upon all the stereotypes and misconceptions about what a feminist is in this article, but I have spoken about dealing with a few I’ve noticed a lot recently. In demonstrating why these stereotypes aren’t true, it’s also possible to demonstrate why feminism is still important and hopefully, spreading these messages will help the progression of feminism.
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