The popular image of a Feminist: an ugly woman with unshaved legs and huge hatred against men.
Written by Nicole Kundai Duma.
I’m a beautiful woman with well shaven legs, hair that defies gravity and lots of love for men but with all this, I’m undeniably a Feminist. Kutenda’s an elegant and pretty lady, blessed with an admirable figure, clear skin and appreciates the presence of men in the world. She too is very much a Feminist. Kudzai is a dark skinned woman, ‘Melanin Queen” they say, with a chiselled jawline, stretch marks on most body parts, rough knuckles, and athletic legs. She’s a Feminist. Oh and Kupa? He’s a very handsome man with perfectly toned skin, a great job and is capable of making anyone follow orders without much hustle. Yes, you guessed it right, he’s also a Feminist. Being a Feminist comes from Feminism- the belief in social, economic and political equality of the sexes. It has nothing to do with the exterior looks of a person, but what they bring to the table. Now, where on planet earth did this idea of ‘an ugly woman with unshaven legs and a huge hatred against men’ come from?-Misconceptions of feminism.
Ugly-unpleasant or repulsive, especially in appearance… Feminism has been associated with the image of an unattractive woman. This is the type of woman who cannot seem to hold any reasonable conversation but incites trouble. Feminists are depicted as strong, forceful and angry women. Some say they are anti-feminine. There is also the belief that feminists are unattractive as they segregate other women. For example there is a myth that all feminists are career women who do not support stay-at-home moms. These are fables. Fables I say! I’d exclaim if this was one of Shakespeare’s works. Feminism DOES NOT glorify or support powerful women that partake in horrible acts. Feminism speaks for equality of the sexes. In the words of Dale Spender, in her book Man Made Language, “Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, and practiced no cruelties.” Instead it advocates for social welfare, better working conditions, rape crisis and reforms in the judicial systems and law. This unattractive woman being mentioned is a mere figure of the imagination brought to some level of life from the misconceptions of anti-feminists. Feminists are beautiful, feminine, ladylike, handsome, confident, approachable, caring, kind…the list of positives is endless.
The idea of unshaved legs brings about the image of a person who is uninterested when it comes to how they look. This is someone who is careless with their life and thus cannot stand for themselves. Unfortunately the victims of rape and gender based violence have somewhat been viewed as helpless and hopeless people who care less for their lives to actually initiate change instead of blaming other parties. This again, is not the case. People are indeed suffering and feminism gives them room and a platform to speak out. Gender based violence has increased throughout the world and has left most wounded. According to crime statistics 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men, aged sixteen to fifty-nine have experienced domestic abuse. Most gender based violence is perpetrated by men against women. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in Zimbabwe, about 1 in 3 women aged 15 to 49 have experienced violence and about 1 in 4 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. Women pensioners in the United Kingdom face one of the worst Gender income gaps in Europe, showing great inequalities. Feminism exists so as to address these disparities and incongruity that results in the image of its unshaven legs- unattractive existence. It’s depicted as having unshaved legs because it brings to light the matters most people hide and would rather not talk about.
Hatred against men: a myth or a real threat of feminism? This is one of the questions that many people ask. In the 3rd century BCE, Rome…Marcus Porcius Cato said, “As soon as they begin to be your equals, they will have become your superiors.” The fact that people believe that seeking equality is a way of attacking men is a problem in itself. A problem resulting in most thinking that feminism is the coming together of women who hate men. Feminism instead speaks for equality. It speaks for everyone to be granted the chance to help each other in making the world a better place. It may come across as hatred against men but feminism challenges the patriarchal rule, not men themselves. To top it off, feminism isn’t defined by being a woman. The modern feminist movement is more diverse. It is attentive to the wider range of experiences of victims of gender norms and stereotypes including men, non-binary and transgender people (LGBTQ). Feminism has moved beyond just sexism. A number of voices are considered feminist. The HeForShe movement initiated by the United Nations for the advancement of gender equality does not exclude people based on their gender, race, socioeconomic status, ability or sexual orientation. This is what being feminist stands for. So instead of preaching and advocating for the hatred of men, feminism promotes equality and interdependence of the sexes.
All in all, feminism isn’t meant to attack men or push forward the negative agendas of angry women taking part in horrid acts. It is meant to promote equality. Feminism says that everyone deserves an equal shot at life. It states that those who have been mistreated and marginalized matter. Ever come across #AllLivesMatter? Yes, that’s the spirit feminism spreads. So before you judge the feminist movement and call it out as ‘useless’ or ‘a bunch of women (and others) making noise’…Get your facts straight! Equip yourself with adequate knowledge on Modern Feminism and research on Why Feminism Still Matters. Look beyond the surface and dive into the deep. You might find yourself falling in love with it.
“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men” ~Gloria Steinem.