Editor’s Note: The author, Lauren Welsh, is a student in the spring 2011 Women’s Studies Program Feminist Theory course at The University of Akron.
Stereotypes are commonly defined as: “a public belief about a certain social group or a type of individual. Stereotypes are often confused with prejudices, because, like prejudices, a stereotype is based on a prior assumption. Stereotypes are often created about people of specific cultures or races.”
When it comes to women, the list of female stereotypes seems to be endless when compared to men’s. Women are not only grouped under one main stereotype, but under multiple groups for different aspects of their lives.
Stereotypes tied to gender roles
A few positive stereotypes for women would be independent, beautiful, unique, independent, strong, creative fun, and fearless. Unfortunately these stereotypes are only used for women by women, and not by men.
When it comes to gender roles, women are thought of as:
The common thought is that women “take care,” and men “take charge.” Gender-based stereotypes undermine women’s capacity to lead, and that brings forth many serious challenges to women’s career achievement and advancement.
Stereotypes and sex roles
When it comes to sexual encounters, women are not only exploited to sell products and media entertainment, but key characteristics and personas are almost always connected to them:
- Sex symbol
- MILF – (Mom I’d Like to F*#k)
- Even animal names – Chick, fox, bunny
Stereotypes connected to appearance and traits
Women can even be stereotyped by the color or length of their hair:
- Red heads = evil
- Blondes = ditzy/dumb
- Short hair = dyke
Other commonly used names to describe women are:
- Gold diggers
- High maintenance
- Bad drivers
The ubiquitous bitch stereotype
Nowadays, however, women have redefined the term. Whether you are called a bitch for standing against the norm, expressing how you feel, or just doing your “own thing,” many women find pride in this not so endearing term.
Personally, I ultimately feel that women have redefined many of the stereotypes that we are being associated with, and that is all to the good. However, certain terms are still not acceptable and are far from the truth.
Stereotypes of women come in all forms, good, bad, and extremely ugly. Hopefully one day the world will finally unlock the secret to life: No group of people are the same, everyone is different, and everyone should be accepted and treated fairly without any prejudices or prior assumptions.
Quotes from Heartless Bitch International
“If I had a dick I’d be applauded and called a real man. But I’m a female – so the world calls me a Bitch.”
“Women have been trained to speak softly and carry a lipstick. Those days are over.”
— Bella Abzug, politician
I do get called a bitch quite often. What I do NOT get called is pushover, stupid, sweetheart, dear or doormat. Works for me.”
— Rebecca M.
“People think at the end of the day that a man is the only answer [to fulfillment]. Actually a job is better for me.” –Princess Diana
“I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career” – Gloria Steinem
“The sexiest parts of my body? My brain, my spine, and my guts.”
Links and videos to check out:
- Gender roles: interviews with kids: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWc1e3Nbc2g&feature=related
- Gender stereotypes in media: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nIXUjzyMe0
- Stereotypes that we are taught: http://hellobeautiful.com/hellobeautiful-original/yeahshesaidit/4-stereotypes-that-women-are-taught/
- Heartless Bitch International: http://www.heartless-bitches.com/heartless/collected_quotes.shtml