Feminist Stereotypes: Aren't We Done With These Yet?

There’s been rather a hoo-ha in the press of late both loosely and tightly associated with persistent negative connotations, assumptions and stereotypes of feminism. First of all, the rather impressive speech/tirade by the Australian PM Julia Gillard about sexism in politics. Then, former First Lady of France Carla Bruni told Vogue she doesn't think feminism is necessary anymore.

Women declaring themselves feminists tend to get a bit of a bad rap, and are usually pigeonholed faster than a sexist can say “dyke”. Some common feminist stereotypes include the image of a “mirthless, hirsute, sex-averse succubus” or as “single, lesbian, non-shaving, bra burning, angry." In a famous 1992 fundraising letter, television evangelist Pat Robertson described feminism as a movement that “encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” This is not a joke.

I am a woman, and would regard myself as feminist (in that I believe women should be treated as equals to men*, economically, socially and politically, and should not be disadvantaged purely due to the fact that they have a vagina.) Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that I am:

(1) Frigid (actually, I rather like sex, and no, that does not make me a slut, whatever that means)

(2) A lesbian (not that would be problematic, or indeed relevant), or a man-hater. I love men, platonically as well as, erm, erotically. I am certainly not anti-men, and I think men are just as capable of being loving, tender, gentle and kind as women. There are some shits out there, but that goes for girls as well as boys.

(3) Hairy, smelly and unattractive. For starters, I’m a big fan of waxing, to an almost obsessive degree. I also like a good wash. And as far as attractive goes? Well, that’s somewhat trickier – attraction is subjective of course, but I think a reasonable amount of people at least find me not repulsive (this, I hope, due to my personality as well as my physical attributes).

So, ladies, gentlemen – let’s reclaim the word. And hope that Ryan Gosling really is as enlightened as he seems.

*This does not mean that I think women should be treated exactly the same as men – it would be disingenuous to that there is no differences between the two sexes, and that these differences, well, sometimes make a difference. I just think we should acknowledge and celebrate our differences without allowing them to be used as grounds for discrimination…But this is another story.

More articles by Category: Feminism, Media, Misogyny, Politics
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Sophie R
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