Despite the fact that feminism as a term has become much more mainstream in the last few months, there is still so much about it that is misunderstood. No matter how much celebrities like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, and even males like Matt McGorry encourage feminism, a lot of people still seem to think all feminists are the same anthropomorphized Birkenstock sandal. There are so many weird stereotypes about feminists out there that aren’t true – and some very important people in our lives, like parents, teachers, and bosses, may actually believe them. So, when we tell someone that we’re feminists, in come the parade of ignorant ass questions and assumptions. “Are you one of those militant feminists? But, you love your boyfriend! Recite back to me the entire Hilary Clinton biography if you’re such a feminist.” Oh. Jesus. Let’s all take a step back for a second.
The word “feminism” itself has been contested. There are plenty of feminists who think that we should change the word or who actively don’t use it because they feel it brings up too many harmful stereotypes and it’s hurting the movement in the long run. I’m personally of the keep-it mindset, but to each their own. Why? Because feminism is a constant discussion, not a fixed point, and we can let people have different opinions and ways of being! Imagine that!
Stereotypes are annoying, no matter where they’re coming from. Stereotypes about feminism feel extra hurtful because it’s trivializing all of the hard work that’s come before us and belittles a very real and important movement for equality. Furthermore, feeling like you have to be doing feminism in the right way only gives us feminists more anxiety. It’s a lot to handle. I think the less stereotypes we have to deal with, the better. No one needs one more thing shifting the focus of feminism away from the actual movement at hand. Let’s start ignoring the following statements, okay?
1) We’re all misandrists.
Misandry is the hatred of men. You don’t have to be misandrist to be feminist. Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people get that confused. Remember that time Gaga said she wasn’t a feminist because she loves men? Sheesh.
2) The goal of feminism is to make women superior to men.
Goal is social, political, and economic equality. EQUALITY. Get it right.
3) We stand in solidarity with all women.
It seems like you can’t have a disagreement with another woman without it being called “girl hate.” Solidarity and sisterhood forever feminism completely leaves out the possibility for disagreement and works under the assumption that all feminism is intersectional by default. We have to work towards intersectionality. All women aren’t without fault.
4) We all have to agree on everything.
For example, it’s not anti-feminist to not like the new Ghostbusters movie. It’s anti-feminist to hate on it for being all women or a remake, for sure. However, it’s not anti-feminist to be critical of race and representation (Leslie Jones is the only member of the squad who isn’t some intellectual or scientist) or to find the story itself less than stellar. I have not seen the movie, but I have seen plenty of feminists aggressively uplifting this movie as a feminist beacon of awesomeness. It very may well be – we’re still allowed to disagree on some things.
5) We don’t shave.
6) Feminists are bra burners.
Bras are oppressive and they hurt, yes. But they’re very expensive pieces of clothing that can be really pretty. I love my bras.
7) We’re all queer.
Yes, sexuality is a spectrum. However, embracing sexuality as a fluid thing does not automatically make you queer and you don’t have to be LGBTQIA+ to be a feminist.
8) We’re all into casual sex.
Being sex positive does not mean that you are into casual sex. Sex positivity means that all practices that do not endanger someone and are done with consent are totally rad and we should not shame someone for their sexual prowess. You can be a feminist and be monogamous and into really vanilla sex. You can be a feminist and a virgin. Feminism does not correspond directly to anything having to do with your sexuality.
9) We’re all ugly girls who can’t get a date.
Um. Why. Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you have to stay single forever. Feminism isn’t a reaction to being rejected by men. That’s really heteronormative and still somehow makes feminism all about men. Gross.
10) We exclude men from the movement.
Blessings on #WokeBaes Matt McGorry and Jesse Williams.
11) We’re all aggressive, stubborn, pushy, and abrasive.
Feminists can be chill af. Not everyone is trying to shove their opinions down your throat.
12) We don’t have a sense of humor.
We just don’t find rape, ableism, transphobia, or racism funny! Jokes aren’t funny when they’re made by a group of privilege to marginalize groups that are already oppressed. There are still plenty of other jokes to be had, everybody.
13) Feminists don’t like being feminine.
There’s more than one way to be a girl. There’s more than one way to be a feminist. You don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist.
14) Feminism can’t change anything.
That “how many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?” joke can die in a fire. I’m not even going to post the punchline because it fills me with rage.
15) Feminists are wasting their time because we already have equality.
HAVE YOU BEEN ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL?!
16) We police other women on how to be a feminist.
There is a very real checklist all feminists are given with their “card carrying feminist” card and we can whip it out and reprimand any woman who’s behaving outside of the approved feminist norm. *sarcasm*
What’s the weirdest stereotype about feminists you’ve heard? Which ones of them are true? Which ones were completely ridiculous? Let us know in the comments!
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.