I’m about to use some pretty atrocious and verboten language.
That’s right. The F-Word. Feminism.
Do I have you shaking in your boots yet?
Yet somehow, the topic of feminism often gets dismissed and met with negative reactions in conversations. So what is so offensive and scary about the f-word? Well, I’ve realized that it is because of one thing: feminism extremists. Now I don’t want to completely reject radical feminists because I believe that each individual practices their feminist values to their own extent, and that there is no such thing as the ideal feminist (I mean, we’re all humans, and we make mistakes). But the past “image” (and I mean 60s era Janis Joplin images) of feminists have somehow adhered itself to the movement of feminism, and travelled through time. As a result, stereotypes have developed, which tend to deter women and men away from associating themselves with feminism. Let’s do a roll call, yes?
Because of stereotypes, all feminists are expected to be:
- Against family and childbirth (as a result of all the man-hating, of course)
- Overweight and/or unattractive
- Hairy (throw away those razors, ladies, and embrace the fur!)
- Sexually promiscuous
- Against marriage
- Against God
- Women (sorry, boys)
And the best stereotype, quoted from All Diva Media:
12. That all feminists believe in the same values
I am not saying that it isn’t acceptable to be a lesbian, pro-choice feminist against marriage. I’m not saying that feminists aren’t hairy, sexually promiscuous or against family, because it is completely your choice if you don’t want to shave, want to claim your sexuality, or don’t want to have children. I’m not saying that you can’t be Christian, believe in God and still identify as a feminist. Of course you can!
What I am saying is that marginalizing every feminist into these categories, and judging them is what makes advocating for feminist values so damn difficult. Because it’s no fun talking about current issues you want to solve if you’re afraid to be called a “feminazi” or worried that you won’t be taken seriously, especially if these fears hold you back from doing some good in the world. Worse still, is observing someone else rejecting feminism out of fear of being scrutinized, but it is clear that he or she shares a feminist value. That’s right, I’m talking about all of you who are culprit to the ever-so-popular: “I’m not a feminist, but…”
So how can feminists continue to advocate without being categorized?
The easy answer: Give me a call when you think you’ve found the perfect solution.
The hard answer: We can continue to talk to our peers, raise awareness and participate in our own kinds of activism. But it’s important to remember that some people won’t be swayed and it’s not our job to back them into a corner until they do. Although that does suck, sometimes it’s better (and easier on you) to focus on choosing what YOU are comfortable doing to the extent of your own beliefs of feminism.