I understand where you are coming from but I’m don’t entirely agree. The Media has a LOT of control over defining feminism, and as a result, feminists suffer from the same mediated condition as Muslims: news stations always like to show the radicals because they’re trying to scare us into believing anyone who identifies as a Muslim or a Feminist MUST BE EXTREMISTS. This is a problem because probably only something like 1% of people who identify themselves as Muslims or Feminists behave in radical ways. But mainstream media like to present them as a dominant stereotype.
The only time feminists get any air time on mainstream media is when they are showing their tits and hissing and screaming. When women try to bring feminist ideas into the mainstream in less extreme ways (eg. Beyonce, Tina Fey etc), people mostly end up talking about all the ways they fail to be feminist (focusing largely on how they conform to standards of femininity, how dare they).
Media representation also goes further than real life people: feminists in movies and TV shows are always presented as extremist. The first example that comes to my head is when Enid, the typecast feminist in Legally Blonde, boasts about single-handedly organising “the march for Lesbians Against Drunk Driving”. And then she does this speech :” take the word semester: a perfect example of this school’s discriminatory preference of semen to ovaries. That’s why I’m petitioning to have next term be referred to as the winter ovester.” Her pursuits are set up by the movie to seem excessive and silly (WHICH IS LITERALLY HOW FEMINIST IS ALMOST ALWAYS PORTRAYED): crazy women trying to find problems with everything. It’s like that tumblr text post: “Mango, why not womango?? Stop Sexism”. People are always taking the piss out of feminism, and by doing so they undermine what feminism is actually about. Young girls like me when I was 16 didn’t want to be feminists because every unquestioned feminist figure on TV seemed crazy and unrelateable. Even WORSE, men stop taking feminists seriously.
I don’t believe we necessarily have to “fight” the radical feminists, because that seems to fundamentally negate feminism’s purpose to empower all women. But I do agree with you that we need to work to REDEFINE popular conception about what feminists look and behave like. Feminists DON’T HAVE TO be radical feminists. And feminists are allowed to be feminine. It’s really just about letting women be whatever female they choose to be, regardless of whether that’s a radical feminist or a stay-at-home mother. They are all women, and they all deserve to be respected and empowered.
Phew, long rant, people really shouldn’t get me started on feminism. But thank you so much for engaging in this conversation with me!!
Last year, for Mother’s Day, Dad got Mom a vacuum cleaner.
This year, for Mother’s Day, Dad got Mom a frying pan.
Seriously Dad! It’s like feminism never happened!