Feminists and Media Stereotypes
The media portrays feminists in unflattering ways. Largely because of the media portrayal, the word 'feminist' usually evokes images of crass, butch, men-hating, very masculine women. Many women believe in the feminist doctrine, but they would never consider themselves as a feminist because they cannot relate to the images of crass, butch, men-hating, masculine women. In fact, it has only been within the past year that I've been able to accept the fact that I am a feminist and that my preconceived images of feminists are merely media stereotypes.
I'm now able to admit I care more about my own rights than whether or not someone will assume I fit the media stereotype of a feminsit. Feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. One doesn't have to hate men, refuse to wear dresses, or be homosexual to be a feminist. Feminism isn't about male bashing, but rather about equality. Now I can (and do) admit freely that I'm a feminist. People may think that means I'm lesbian. They may think that means I hate men. They may think I have some sort of secret agenda. They can be as misinformed or stereotypical as they chose, I just want equal rights.
Yet now I have to wonder why those stereotypes exist and where they stemmed from. Were early feminists "butch" man haters? No. Early accounts from women and men of the time prove otherwise.
* ... the 1848 Seneca Falls convention for a female Bill of Rights provoked editorials about "unsexed women"...which insinuated that they had become activists because "they were too repulsive to find a husband....These women are entirely devoid of personal attractions."...When a supporter, Senator Lane of Kansas, presented a petition for the franchise on behalf of "one hundred and twenty-four beautiful, intelligent, and accomplished ladies," another editorial protested that "that trick...will not do. We wager an apple that the ladies referred to are not 'beautiful' or accomplished. Nine out of ten of them are undoubtedly pass', they have hook-billed noses, crow's feet under their sunken eyes...."A doctor reacting to feminist agitation characterized such "degenerate women" by their low voices, hirsute bodies, and small breasts." According to (author, Peter) Gay, "Feminists were denigrated as failed women, half-men, hens that crow... humor magazines and hostile legislators everywhere broadcast a frightening picture of appalling masculine harridans haranguing the House of Commons."(Wolf, 68)
Who would want to be associated with such a group? Who would want others to think less of them because they're involved with a group of "ugly" "small-breasted" "repulsive" women? Over time, the number of women willing to stand-up to the stereotype and count themselves as feminists has grown, but this offensive myth still keeps some women away. People simply do not want to be associated with a group that has...