A couple years ago, I learned to keep my mouth shut about being a feminist if I didn't want some men (and even some women) to look at me funny. As soon as the word "feminist" leaves your lips, some people start forming opinions — you know, like how you hate men and don't think anybody should be allowed to shave, and all the other feminist stereotypes that need to go. Fortunately, I finally stopped caring what other people think; and it was then that I noticed all of the, frankly, utterly bizarre assumptions we make about people just because they want equality, which is what feminism comes down to.
Feminism got such a bad reputation that discussions and debates popped up of changing the word to equalism or humanism. I'm sure we can all appreciate the goal in doing this; but there's a large group of people who believe feminism needs to be called feminism, and for a number of good reasons. Perhaps more importantly than anything, we do not need to change the word feminist, but rather, we need to change feminism itself, and the way we view it.
And what better way to start than ridding the idea of these stale and misleading stereotypes?
Now, to be clear, this isn't to say that the following ideas don't apply to any feminist, because that wouldn't be accurate either; rather, this is yet another plea to not group us under the same umbrella with blanket generalizations. To do so would be to gloss over many important details.
1. We're Anti-Man
Imagine getting food poisoning while you're on your period. That's how awful it feels whenever someone assumes that as a feminist, I want to see the demise of men. I loathe this stereotype with every fiber of my being. You know what I don't loathe? Men. For women to succeed, men do not need to fail. End of story.
2. Our Political Beliefs Are All The Same
Quick. Just run me over with your car. It'll hurt less. Believe it or not, there are feminists who voted for Trump. There are feminists who didn't vote for Trump... and they didn't vote for Clinton, either! Then, there were lots of feminists who did! And you know why? All together now: it's because feminists don't all share the same political beliefs. Good or bad, whether you like it or not, it's true. Have your opinions, but it's proof that this is yet another (horribly flawed) stereotype.
3. We're Loud, Obnoxious, And Opinionated
Ugh. Stahp. This is an ugly stereotype. It's one of the biggest reasons feminism has a bad reputation — because people have come to view us as pushy bigmouths. People, this is called having an opinion. And you can bet we'll have an opinion when our vice president has outrageous beliefs — one of which includes requiring women who suffer miscarriages to cremate the fetus's remains.
Regardless, no two feminists are identical. Some of us are vocal and passionate. Others are a bit more quiet. Feminism is personal, and each human expresses it in the way they wish to. Neither is good or bad. It's a choice, and we're all entitled to one.
4. We Think Chivalry = Sexism
When was the last time you saw a guy hold open the door for a woman and she screamed in his face, "I can open this door myself, you turd!"? Probably never. Because he was just being courteous, and she probably appreciated it. Similarly, I hold the door open for others sometimes as well, because it's a nice gesture.
People, ladies can appreciate a man with manners and at the same time want to have equal pay and affordable birth control and not worry about coming back from maternity leave and learning we've been replaced.
5. We're Angry And Whiny
I read this a lot around the time of the Women's March, particularly in disgruntled Facebook comments left by haters and naysayers: "Why are all these women complaining and whining when they should be working?" Well, it's probably because we were all menstruating. *eye roll*
I'm sorry, but it's not complaining when you're marching for the right to basic health care, or for the right to do with your body whatever you please, without the government interfering.
We're not all angry; but let me be clear: if we are, we have the right to be, because our administration is damning women more and more simply for having vaginas.
6. We Want To Be Like Men
I mean, maybe some women feminists do; but not all of us. It is absolutely a stereotype that all feminists aspire to be masculine or want to be like men. Furthermore, we don't want to have to "keep up" with men, or try to survive in a "man's world." It's not a competition or a race. We want to be ourselves — we just don't want it to be held against us. Also, nobody would even be here without us, because childbirth. You're welcome.
7. We Want To Be Treated Like Men
This is a tricky one — because in a way, it's true. In other ways, not so much. We don't want to be treated like men, because we're not men. Men and women are unique in their own special ways; who would want to lose that? It's awesome! At the same time, however, we'd like to enjoy the same rights that they're automatically given, and we're often automatically denied (or at least have to fight for).
Don't treat us "like a man," but maybe don't treat us "like a woman," either. These ideas are hollow. Just treat us like human beings. Be kind. That's all.
8. Feminism Is Feminine
Negative! Feminism is neither feminine nor masculine. Feminism is for everyone. Feminism is for women, men, old people, young people, black people, white people — all people of all kinds. Feminism is equality for the genders, plain and simple. Don't we all want that?
9. We're Too Sensitive
This seriously offends me.
It's just ridiculous to accuse us of being too sensitive when we argue that we should be paid the same as men for the same work, or that tampons should not be taxed as luxury items (seriously? Cotton up your hoo-ha is a luxury?), or that it shouldn't be more difficult for us to get raises, or promotions, or hold CEO positions, or get a job ... period. Because yes, all of the above are more difficult for women.
10. We Reject Stereotypically Feminine Things
I love pink. I love flowers and bows and glittery things. I love getting presents on Valentine's Day. I love when the door is held open for me. These things are traditionally feminine; but I enjoy them more so because they make me feel respected. I've also bought flowers for my boyfriend and given him gifts on Valentine's Day, because I respect him.
Even if you do consider these things feminine, that's A-OK, and enjoying them doesn't make you any less of a feminist.
11. Men Who Are Feminists Are Either "Soft" Or Gay
First off, power to them if they are. But more importantly, stereotypes like this actively discourage men who don't identify that way from feeling like they can be a part of something that they should very much want to be a part of — so they can hopefully free themselves of that toxic masculinity nonsense, too.