#YesAllWomen: Dismissing Stereotypes About Feminists

The big F-word: Feminism. Feminists are man-hating, bra-burning, big fat ugly, unhygienic women who are needy, whiny, lesbian, and greedy. They are these things, right? Wrong.

The above descriptions are all just some of the most common stereotypes told about feminists, but many seem to actually believe them. Not all feminists are unhygienic or hate men. They don’t all believe sex is bad and more feminists actually do marry compared to the ones who don’t. Men can be feminists, such as Will Smith, Andy Samberg, David Schwimmer and not all of them are homosexual. However, over the countless stereotypes, there’s the most popular and the least popular. The least popular is always the truth.

Because false stereotypes are very common and very popular, people have grown up believing them and sometimes even acting on them. Over the years, feminists have endured harsh treatment, being called names and branded as things they really aren’t. A very common stereotype is that feminism is the belief women should have more power than men in the government. This is completely untrue. Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on “the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Feminism is the advocacy for gender equality, not for the belief that women should run everything.

Julie Jimenez, a freshman in the Tech & Media Magnet, said, “You grow up learning these accusations, so I guess they just follow you through your entire life. There will always be people accusing feminists of wanting something, even when equality is something that involves both genders.” Despite the difference, many still seem to believe the false stereotype as opposed to the truth. Hence the truth is the least popular among what people think it really is.

Feminism seems to have an effect. Someone says something that has to do with the belief that women and men should be equal and then all hell breaks loose. And for what? For the constant fear that some people have about feminism; some people fear that women are going to “overrun the government” or “cause havoc”. Even some women seem to fear the advocacy. Some may be embarrassed, some may feel that feminism makes them look weak, but it really does none of that. It’s past feminist advocates like eighteenth-century English writer and philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft that are part of the reason girls are attending school now. We should be grateful, yet people decide that acting on these false stereotypes is best.

Stereotypes are practically heard everywhere. Jimenez said, “I usually hear people say that feminists are man-hating lesbians.” This is sadly true. It’s actually a very common stereotype some people like to use to offend feminists. Yes, there are lesbian and bisexual women who advocate women’s rights, but there are also heterosexual women that advocate women’s rights. The stereotype “Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands and become lesbians” is far from true. Just because a woman believes in gender equality does not mean she will suddenly become uninterested in men and interested in women. A person’s sexuality should not be laughed about and used as a weapon against what they believe in.

Another popular stereotype is that women hate men. Luis Camarena, a freshman in the Tech & Media Magnet, said, “There are some feminists that don’t like men, but I know that not all feminists do. It’s just a tiny portion of feminists that probably don’t like men.” Most people assume that labeling yourself as a feminist means that you hate the opposite sex. This is entirely incorrect. Feminists are not feminists to hate men. They are feminists to advocate women’s rights and gender equality. A gender equality advocate isn’t a so-called “bra-burning man-hater”. A feminist is someone who fights for both genders to be treated fairly and just. They fight for equality, not for a one-sided advantage in the government.

Just because the beliefs of feminists are different from one’s own does not mean they are “ugly and fat whiny women and girls who can’t get a man” as some people have said. Not only is this false, but it’s downright rude and insulting. Feminists are not unhygienic to “prove a point” because, in a much more realistic view, what good would not shaving do? It is a woman’s choice to shave her legs or to dress in men’s clothing just as much as it’s a woman’s choice to shave and wear a dress or a skirt.

The most common stereotypes and more are what feminists are called on the daily. When most people think of feminism, they think extreme. And whatever it is that you’re thinking when someone says “extreme”, those are stereotypes. There are always going to be people who take it to the extreme in just about anything. Saying all feminists hate men and don’t shave is like saying that every Middle Eastern person is a terrorist or that all Asian people look the same, think the same and are all related. It’s ignorant and demeaning.

Learning about the subject gives a better understanding of what feminism really is. Maybe then, stereotypes will begin to die down.

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