Feminism | Posted by Emily Jane G on 09/17/2012

Dealing With A New Type of Feminist Stereotype

the 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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  • Anthony @ at 12:41 pm, September 21st, 2012

    Feminism is an obsolete movement. The fight should be against sexism. Not for the rights of one gender. Men are also treated unfairly in several situations and have things expected of them based on “gender roles” too. Focusing only on women’s problems is arrogant and one sided.
    Simply put, sexism is a problem of humanity, feminism and masculinism are equally wrong.

  • Tyler @ at 3:20 pm, September 28th, 2012

    I agree that Feminism isn’t about hating men and is about equality for everyone. However a lot of feminists do seem to engage in stereotyping and generalized hostility towards men. There is also a trend within feminism that makes if so all a woman has to do is point a finger and declare a man guilty of sexual harrasment or rape and he is considered guilty. This trend seems to mainly be on college campuses and never addresses the economic issues that face the majority of women in America and the world, instead solely focused on the “personal as political” Another trend seems to be made up of the high powered career woman who believes she is entitled to being a CEO or even president ruling over not only men but also women and feeling that gaining wealth and status for herself somehow automatically helps “the cause”. These trends end up giving feminism a bad name in my opinion, its still an important movement however and there is a long way to go. I think it is important for women in that movement to distinguish between advancing a cause and just advancing themselves.

  • Josh @ at 2:23 pm, September 29th, 2012

    “Another trend seems to be made up of the high powered career woman who believes she is entitled to being a CEO or even president ruling over not only men but also women and feeling that gaining wealth and status for herself somehow automatically helps “the cause”.”
    I tend to disagree with this statement. If we are talking true ‘bigh power’ or a better term successful career woman, most of those I have met have actually been reasonable people. The ones who come out with the entitlement are those that can’t advance and won’t accept that it is because they are simply not good enough to climb the ladder. These will be the same women who cry about the lack of women in as CEOs of the fortune 500, like we should take 250 of those earmark them as ‘female only’ and that is somehow more fair than those positions being filled by ‘the right person for the job’.

    ‘However a lot of feminists do seem to engage in stereotyping and generalized hostility towards men.’
    Feminists do this each and every time they quote a statistic. Nearly every time a feminist quotes a ‘fact’ it is either false, stretched, lacking further vital information

    (like DV stats which fail to mention that when DV is committed by only one partner its 50/50 and when both partners commit then women are the initiator 70% of the time. Further when the women is the initiator she is very likely to have a history of DV, whilst men tend to be isolated.)

    I may again be accused here of being MRA. Don’t know don’t care. I have enough rights, feminists more. Not that its a great concern of mine anyway as greed tends to be bread from and to further breed jealousy and these sort of people tend to live unhappy lives. However when it impacts your everyday life (go have a look at british law and what constitutes DV – I’ll give you one – WITH HOLDING SEX FROM YOUR PARTNER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE UK! there are more and the are fucking stupid for most part, especially when you consider if a couple are together for say 30 years I reckon everyone would rack up most of them before they die.) then I care.

  • Link Love (06/10/2012) « Becky's Kaleidoscope @ at 9:58 am, October 6th, 2012

    [...] “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.” Dealing With a New Type of Feminist Stereotype – f bomb [...]

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