Decades ago, when we heard the word “feminism” we thought of the female rebels who helped secure their, as well as countless others’, right to vote. We think about the flappers, who dressed the way they wanted to, and cut their hair – a symbol of femininity – despite it being a social taboo. Nowadays, from what I observe, when someone hears the word “feminist” people think of an eccentric and easily offended group. In fact, so many people have associated feminism with negativity that many people are now hesitant to call themselves a feminist. To me, I think it has distorted the principles and concepts of what feminism is for many different reasons.
A study conducted by PerryUndem Research and Communication surveyed over a thousand people. Out of those who were surveyed, only 18 percent said they were feminists. The survey was conducted March 4, through March 12, of 2015 – very recent. Does this mean that those surveyed were against women’s rights? Absolutely not. Eighty-five percent of those people stated that they were for women’s rights. I think they no longer view the word feminism as a term for the gender equality movement. I think the media is a lot to blame for this.
One of the many arguments as to why people are against the term “feminism” is that it is associated with negativity. Lady Gaga, according to Cosmopolitan magazine, stated that she is not a feminist because she “loves men” and Shailene Woodley also stated that she is not a feminist because she also “loves men.” Carrie Underwood said she isn’t a feminist because she thinks the term has a “negative connotation.” These days, people have put celebrities such as these on pedestals, making people more likely to listen to or agree with them.
Think about it, if someone had to choose between listening to what a celebrity thinks of feminism versus what an everyday woman thinks, what person would the viewer most likely pay attention to? Another reason people reject feminism is the media, which often chooses to run stories of eccentric feminists rather than everyday feminists.
I have read countless stories about eccentric feminists and about feminist extremists. Some examples of the stories I read described women stripping in public with the Free the Nipple campaign, and women letting themselves have their period without any feminine products such as pads and tampons. Based on these stories, I can see why feminists are becoming the laughing stock.
I have met many people who have used the term feminazi versus feminist and, at this point, I can see why. If you see too many news headlines portraying feminist extremists, it is easy to assume that that is the majority of what feminists are.
I think that the media should pay attention to the majority of feminists rather than the extremists and only then can we paint an accurate picture of what a modern day feminist really is.
Katherine Glosser can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org