Tip-toeing around the F word

Feminism means valuing women and their experiences and respecting people as a whole. It is a concern for equality, a form of activism and the belief that gender is culturally constructed.

Feminism is typically misunderstood and overshadowed by false stereotypes that label feminists as all white, lesbian, man-hating, bra-burning, hair-growing angry women. These are trivial stereotypes that cloud the more serious views of feminists, who overall strive for social change and the dissolving of hierarchies.


Feminism means valuing women and their experiences and respecting people as a whole. It is a concern for equality, a form of activism and the belief that gender is culturally constructed.

Feminism is typically misunderstood and overshadowed by false stereotypes that label feminists as all white, lesbian, man-hating, bra-burning, hair-growing angry women. These are trivial stereotypes that cloud the more serious views of feminists, who overall strive for social change and the dissolving of hierarchies.

Benevolent sexism, or the principle that casts women as weak creatures in need of men’s protection and guidance, is often perceived as being synonymous with some type of archaic chivalry or romance.

Hostile sexism, which is the belief that women are inferior to men and therefore includes derogatory beliefs and heterosexual hostility, is often intertwined with benevolent sexist ideology. For example, the belief that women belong at home because they need protection (benevolent sexism) is often linked with similar convictions that women are incapable of providing for their family (hostile sexism).

If benevolent and hostile sexism are interconnected, why is being placed on a pedestal so desirable for some women, when that pedestal represents weakness and frailty in the eyes of men? Why are some women okay with benevolent sexism, but not hostile sexism? When asked these questions, all of the women interviewed had the same response: I don’t know.

Well, I do know. As a feminist, I am not comfortable with benevolent or hostile sexism. While one is typically more overt and blatantly destructive than the other, they are both detrimental to the ultimate goal of equality between the genders.

If you are a woman who wants to be put on a pedestal and thinks you are too delicate to change a tire or lift anything over 10 pounds, question what such beliefs could lead to. If you are too delicate to handle basic tasks, maybe you are too delicate to earn your own money, decide who you should date or even think for yourself.

While I certainly don’t think like that, nor do other feminists, that is the argument that has been made throughout history. So remember, benevolent sexism and hostile sexism are intimately linked. Say no to both; benevolent sexism is a dangerous gateway into indisputable hostility.