As a 20-year-old female attending college, I can say without a doubt that I am a feminist. I support equal rights for all, and believe that all humans deserve basic fundamental rights.
As a 20-year-old feminist, however, I am simply quite tired of hearing about certain stereotypes displayed by others. In many of my women’s studies classes, the majority of those who do not consider themselves feminists either believe the common misconceptions of feminism, or just merely don’t know what a feminist is.
The University of Toronto interviewed 228 Americans, and asked them to describe a “typical feminist.” The vast majority of those surveyed came to a consensus that women’s rights activism is directly associated with negative stereotypes: the words “man-hating” and “unhygienic” were the most commonly used.
A study by the Huffington Post last April found that 20 percent of Americans—23 percent of women and 16 percent of men—identify as feminists, but 82 percent of people said they believe that “men and women should be social, political, and economic equals.” In sum: the majority of Americans buy into the ideology and actual politics of feminism, just not the label.
From my own experience, one over-generalized question that I often get asked is, “You’re just a lesbian, right?” I cannot begin to describe the obvious and complete ignorance of this assuming question. A person’s sexuality has nothing to do with the belief that men and women should be socially, politically, and economically equal.
Another question that I hear quite frequently is, “The word ‘feminist’ is sexist. Why aren’t you just a humanist?” The individual typically asking this question also does not have a clue as to what feminism actually is. Feminism is simple: the idea that women deserve an equal place in society and an equal status to men. That’s it! It is not about making women better or punishing men; it is simply about both genders being equal.
Feminists, just like everyone else walking around on planet Earth, are highly complex beings filled with varying beliefs, traits, intricacies and even hypocrisies at times. We’re not all the same, despite the common goal to achieve equality.
All people have different ideologies based on their own social locations. The forms of privilege and oppression that individuals experience, according to varying races, religions, genders, sexualities and ability to name a few key elements, inherently and obviously shape our perspectives.
For those of you who buy into these common misconceptions about feminists, I am asking that you seriously research the background and the history of the women’s rights movement, and consider gender inequality issues present today. Do not stereotype a whole group of people without taking individual differences into account.