Feminism, is an ideology that has been misunderstood, stereotyped and misinterpreted across ages. When I asked people about their opinion on feminists, I got mixed responses. “Feminists are modern working women who hate men” was one of the response I got from a 20-year-old living in a metropolitan city. Radical, man-haters, lesbians, uptight and angry are responses I got from my sample. Unfortunately, there are only few people who understand feminism and feminists in the right sense.
According to a 2013 YouGov poll, and a 2006 study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly found that “many people think that feminists are ugly, uptight, angry, aggressive, harsh, strident, demanding, dogmatic, man-hating lesbians,” (Weiss, 2005).
Feminist believe in the simple ideology of equality, where men and women stand on equal groundings. Feminists do not vouch for a single identity for women but accept every woman and embrace every aspect of her. They do not believe in a binary opposition where men are the self (superior) and women the other (inferior).
A major misconception that people have is that they assume that all feminists are women. The pages of history show us that right from the ninetieth century, we have had male and female feminist writers like Virginia Woolf, John Stuart Mill, Simone De Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Rabindranath Tagore, and Kamala Das who have written powerful texts to drive home the point of social, economic and political equality. People assume that all feminists are homosexuals. ‘To be a feminist is to be a lesbian’, is the general understanding that people have. Some feminists are homosexual but there are many heterosexual men and women who believe in feminism. To be a feminist is to believe in the ideology of equality, it has nothing to do with one’s gender or sexuality. It is not an ideology that is imbibed only by the elites in a society.
Our society has perpetuated these stereotypes through the different forms of media like television shows, movies and advertisements. Opinion makers have reinforced these stereotypes time and again.
Pat Robertson, former Southern Baptist minister, media mogul and televangelist, described feminism as “a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians” (Wikiquote).
The word ‘feminist’ continues to be connoted as a negative term. Because of this negative connotation attached to it, individuals are scared to call themselves feminist as they will be judged as people who are aggressive, harsh and demanding.
The current Indian female population is 48.8 %, feminism is an ideology that effects every member of this population. It changes the way we look at gender and helps construct a healthy, growing and developed nation where men and women have equal opportunities and enjoy an equal status in all realms of life.
It is a joy to see famous YouTubers like East India Comedy and All India Bakchod clear out the stereotypes attached to feminism. We need to sensitize people about the actual meaning of feminism. Even though it a mammoth of a task, we should do our bit to raise awareness and erase these stereotypes. Instead of blindly giving into these stereotypes we should be do our bit of research and establish truth values before we form opinions that are invalid and irrelevant. We ought to be conscious and aware individuals as feminists give us new perspectives that change the way we look at gender.
Weiss, Suzanna. (2015, December 30). 6 Reasons People Believe Stereotypes About Feminists (Even Though They’re Not True). Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/articles/132468-6-reasons-people-believe-stereotypes-about-feminists-even-though-theyre-not-true.
Pat Robertson. (2016, December 15). Wikiquote. Retrieved from https://en.wikiquote.org/w/index.php?title=Pat_Robertson&oldid=2202888.