by Lauren Tortolani ’24
Published Oct. 16th, 2021
Feminism has gained a nasty reputation, being characterized by the image of angry women trying to put down men and the longing for a power imbalance, with women controlling society and men meagerly getting by at the bottom.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary properly defines feminism as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” The fact that such a simple concept has branched off into so many misunderstandings lies at the foot of the still-thriving misogynistic view of women.
For ages, women have been thought of as ‘inferior’ to men. This stems off from the normalization of traditionalist values that put men at the top of society. This prejudice against women and their capabilities leads to a prejudice against feminism.
There are many stereotypes associated with being a feminist, some being that they don’t like ‘girly’ things, are all loud and outspoken, and hate chivalry. But these are not true for everyone. Being a feminist doesn’t have to do with people’s personal interests or their personalities. The only thing all feminists have in common is that they want women to have equal rights with men.
Another problem with the stigma behind feminism is that when feminists speak up for equal rights, they are seen as whiny and sensitive. When people protest for other movements, it’s seen as powerful, so why is it so different when it’s in favor of women? The issues being protested about are widely known and have been a part of history for centuries, yet there are still people who give feminists backlash or make jokes about women’s rights. All of these factors create a raging stigma that is hard to extinguish.
Suhani Kapoor ‘24 says, “There’s so much stigma regarding feminism. I cannot put into words how many times I have been told that feminism is ‘stupid’ because feminists are ‘people who just hate men.’”
Suhani has also come face-to-face with the root of the stigma, adding that “I’ve heard people talking to their friends, making jokes about feminism and the issues that feminists speak out against.”
This stigma not only leads women to shy away from calling themselves feminists, but it also causes men to refrain from standing up for women’s rights. Because feminism is seen as “girly” and “over-the-top,” men often don’t want to be associated with such stereotypes. Instead of blindly labeling feminists, society must realize that women’s rights are human rights and not some silly child’s game that can be ignored.
With such stigma and such fear, women’s rights will never take a step in the right direction. Men and women must take a courageous step forward and freely support what they care about. By backing others up and calling out sexist jokes and stereotypes, feminism can be normalized and the fight for women’s rights can finally be won.