During the 1990s, and still to this present day, the F-word has connotations of being somewhat of a dirty word. And by F-word I am referring to Feminism.
When we hear the word feminism, it is not uncommon to associate this word with the stereotypes that have been fed to us over the years.
Feminists burn their bras.
All feminists hate men.
Feminists are all aggressive and pushy and unapproachable.
Feminists don’t shave or care about personal hygiene.
Men cannot identify as feminists.
Feminists don’t involve themselves in anything traditionally associated with being female such as flowers and the colour pink...
The list goes on but the irony is that these typecasts placed upon a crusade or group of people are actually the very types of labels, categories and hatred that feminism has been trying to demolish.
Feminism still exists. It is not an archaic 200-year-old has-been social movement that only gets spoken about in history lessons. Perhaps we cannot be blamed for thinking feminism isn’t necessary anymore. With iconic and strong female symbols who exude liberation, sexuality and power such as Beyoncė or Madonna, maybe we have been fooled into thinking that feminism truly is a thing of the past.
As of this week, another promising development has been made in the realms of gender equality. In 1936 it was said that any air hostess should not weigh more than 8 stone, they should all be younger than 26 and display the ‘bloom that comes with perfect health.’ American Airlines still stipulate that any, “noticeable hair in nostrils and in/on ears or underarms must be cut or otherwise removed.”
Now Virgin Atlantic have declared that, in deference to the outdated and vanishing image of the ‘trolley dolly,’ their female cabin crew now no longer have to wear makeup and can opt for trousers instead of skirts as part of their uniform.
This is feminism!
Everything at the core of feminism boils down to individual choice and that is the most important facet of this still-thriving movement.
Can a feminist still get married and take her husband’s surname?
Can a feminist wear a bra and/or makeup?
Can a feminist be a housewife?
Yes – if she chooses. The point is that we cannot enforce labels and stereotypes on feminism or any other social group. Society cannot live by a one-size-fits-all philosophy simply due to the fact that the concept of equality does not look the same for everyone.
“Muslim women’s equality looks very different from trans women’s equality which looks very different from white women’s equality.”
Socially we are becoming more aware of the stereotypes attached to gender, awareness such as the use of he/she pronouns and the turning towards non-binary and gender-neutral living. But what about stereotypes attached to associated words such as feminism?
Perhaps part of the current problem with this F-word is that the lies we have been told about feminism have been fed to us deliberately to hold us back from a movement that is actually for everyone and this change in perception starts with every single one of us.