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Straw Feminism

shainarobin's picture

Defining feminism is complex. So complex in fact, that I don't think I've ever heard anybody describe it in the exact same way. Its meaning differs from person to person. I don't think that this is bad per se, but I do think that this range in definintion has allowed for today's media to warp feminism as something negative and detrimental for the rights of women. In many of the TV shows I watched growing up, especially the ones featuring strong and role model-like female characters, a "straw feminist" character would be introduced to show viewers what could happen if we took everything too seriously. These straw feminists were so ridiculous, crazy, and over the top, that they managed to spread the message that gender inequality/opression was overblown and feminism was trying to create a problem where there wasn't one. Basically, the goals of these episodes were to show that feminism wasn't necessary. This message was reinforced in the form of the female lead on the show who wasn't anything like her straw feminist counterpoint. This meant that there was no way she could ever be a feminist. This sneaky and strategic form of  anti-feminism has resulted in children growing up to believe that feminism is more or less evil. This is why so many young peolpe are hesitant to desribe themselves as feminists today. Along with the lack of concrete definition, the adverse portrayl of feminists in the media has made people believe that they are doing more harm than good. This idea is further explained on a YouTube channel called Feminist Frequency. In the video I've provided below, the moderator and face of the channel, Anita Sarkeesian, explores how straw feminism has been used to harm the feminist movement in a way that has been clever and well hidden. Consequently, it has regressed the progress that the movement has made by implanting our youth with false messages, making them believe that "the only thing worse than being a woman in a patriarchal society, is being a feminist."