Stereotyping is a way for people to acknowledge certain situations because they may have experienced them before. However, stereotyping isn’t always helpful. Instead, it can be quite troublesome and hurtful. Disadvantages to stereotypes is that it makes people ignore differences between individuals (Mcleod). Therefore, people think things about other people that might not be true (Mcleod). Take feminists for example, they are often ridiculed about stereotypes that may or may not be part of who they are as a person.
Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Many women like Simone de Beauvoir and Eleanor Roosevelt paved the way for feminists today. However, many incidents have created different names and stereotypes for feminists that aren’t true. It’s a common misconception that all feminists are the same. The only thing any feminists have in common is that they are all committed to achieving political, economic, and social equality of sex, race, and class (Myths). One of the biggest myths about feminists is that they’re all women. Music sensation, John Legend, considers himself to be a feminist along with many other famous male actors and musicians.
“Feminists hate men.”
A true feminist would understand that equality doesn’t just stop at gender. Women who hate men are called misandrists. A misandrist is a person who dislikes, despises, or strongly dislikes men. However, a misandrist can be a feminist, but their actions towards men shouldn’t be considered a feminist cause because a feminist believes people should have equitable places in society regardless of their gender (Killermann). Therefore, man-hating isn’t part of the goal. Many believe the goal is for women to become more powerful than men. This, however, is not the case because as I’ve said before, feminists want equality for all parties and that includes men.
Another misconception is that feminists are bra-burners. The term bra-burners started 50 years ago. It started with a protest against a Miss America beauty pageant. The idea was to throw away objects that oppressed women (100). Actual bra-burning never took place. This has been a myth that many feminists have tried to squash for years. It’s a good example to show that one detail, accurate or not, can change the way somebody perceives something. Even though it’s not true, people still believe it. This is considered irrational thinking. An example of how we act irrationally is called diagnosis bias (Killermann). The smallest change in the way you describe someone can completely alter the way you perceive their behavior (Killermann).
Another stereotype about feminists is that they are all lesbians. This has been an insult directed at feminists regularly ever since they began working politically for women’s liberation (Koedt). Women were reliant on men, and when called lesbian it was meant to imply, they aren’t feminine and that they are unwanted. The purpose was to scare them back into their place. While many feminists today are lesbian, this is not how the stereotype was created. The stereotype was created to get control over women, which in turn, lead to even bigger movements.
The more controversial stereotype is that all feminists are pro-choice. There are feminist organizations that are for pro-life. These pro-life feminists don’t focus on the religious factors. Instead, they consider why women choose to have abortions. These pro-life feminists demand that society support the unique life-giving capacity of women, so that no woman feels driven to abortion (Pro-Woman). Pro-life feminists also accept the scientific reality that the unborn child is a human life deserving of the same protection as any other human (Pro-life). There are pro-choice feminists and there are pro-life feminists. It goes to show that a same group can have different views towards the same goal.
These are just the common stereotypes that society knows. There are many more that have been cast down onto feminists. Most of them are just simply untrue. For example, if somebody is a feminist, they cannot be religious. This is based on the assumption that Christianity and feminism are incompatible. Many Christians view feminism negatively because feminism conjures up images of angry, man-hating, bra-burning women fighting for an unnecessary means to an end (Zacharia). As shown earlier in the essay, these assumptions have been warped and falsified. So, it’s easy to understand why feminism would seem negative compared to Christianity, which focuses on love and peace. There are feminists that reject the teachings of Christianity because they see it as advocating for oppressive patriarchy at worst and soft complementarianism at best (Zacharia). However, both groups are working with flawed definitions and thus creating a false and unnecessary dichotomy (Zacharia).
It’s obvious that feminism as been misunderstood and often misinterpreted. Realistically, if people would look past the stereotypes and learned about feminism and how one person’s actions doesn’t determine the goal of the whole group, feminism wouldn’t have the reputation it has now. However, as shown earlier, stereotypes are there for a reason whether they are right or wrong about a person or group of people. Stereotypes can help understand individuals, but more often than not it doesn’t help. Every person is unique and should be treated as such. If people were to view each other individually, instead of as a whole, stereotypes would be a thing of the past. It’s up to the people to look past stereotypes, but to do this, they would have to not think irrationally.
- “100 Women: The Truth behind the ‘Bra-Burning’ Feminists.” BBC News, BBC, 7 Sept. 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-45303069.
- Killermann, Sam. “5 Reasons Why So Many People Believe Feminism Hates Men and Why They’re Not True.” It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, 29 Jan. 2019, www.itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/12/reasons-people-believe-feminism-hates-men/.
- Koedt, Anne. “Lesbianism and Feminism.” CWLU HERSTORY, CWLU HERSTORY, 22 Sept. 2016, www.cwluherstory.org/classic-feminist-writings-articles/lesbianism-and-feminism.
McLeod, Saul. “Stereotypes.” Simply Psychology, 1 Jan. 1970, www.simplypsychology.org/katz-braly.html.
- “Myths about Feminism.” Berry College – Georgia Private College, www.berry.edu/womens_studies/myths/.
- “Pro-Life Feminism.” Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, www.spuc.org.uk/abortion/pro-life-feminism.
- “Pro-Woman Answers to Pro-Choice QuestionsTM.” Feminists for Life, www.feministsforlife.org/can-you-really-be-a-feminist-and-pro-life/.
- Zacharias, Tami. “Why I’m a Christian First, a Feminist Second, and Both at the Same Time.” CBE International, www.cbeinternational.org/blogs/why-im-christian-first-feminist-second-and-both-same-time.