Tropes vs. Women: #6 The Straw Feminist

Tropes vs. Women is a six-part video series by Feminist Frequency that explores the reoccurring stories, themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows.

The Straw Feminist trope is a deliberately created, exaggerated caricature of a feminist that is used to undermine and ridicule feminist movements. This was probably one of the most difficult and longest videos I’ve made so far, partly because the Straw Feminist is a very complex and twisted representation. I actually cut out about five minutes of actual analysis to keep the video at a reasonable viewing time. The Straw Feminist trope has many more facets and many more examples but I hope I was able to provide a general overview.

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**Full video transcript is available at

** This video is available to be translated into other languages by volunteers like you. Please visit the subtitling page on Universal Subtitles and click TRANSLATE to get started.

by Anita Sarkeesian
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16 Comments Have Been Posted

Excellent point once again!

Excellent point once again! This is my absolute favorite video so far, keep up the good work Anita<3

Great Video

Wonderful job putting together some excellent examples. I'll be honest, although I'm well aware of the stigma associated with feminism, I hadn't realized how many examples there were of the straw feminist in pop culture -- probably because I haven't watched most of the shows & movies discussed.

I wonder what people think of the portrayal of campus feminists in the movie "PCU?" I would say it fits the bill as well.

Lastly, points for using the plural to describe "feminist movements."

Amazing analysis and excellent video overall!

Thanks! and I'm glad you

Thanks! and I'm glad you noticed the plural on movements... I know that there is a long history of exclusion and co-optation in feminism generally, and some very legitimate reasons for rejecting the title, unfortunately this isn't the video to go into that conversation but it was on my mind while working through this one.

ps. I haven't seen PCU... hopefully someone else here can comment on that.


I think PCU is the first example I can remember of seeing the straw feminist trope, and identifying it as such. The premise of this movie is that political correctness has gotten out of hand on a college campus, and the heroes, a group of 90s slacker "frat" members (men and women) have to throw this horribly offensive party to save their frat house or something. I actually think it's a kind of funny, albeit very low-brow, movie, but one of the biggest PC groups the "heroes" have to fight against is the feminist group, who chant things like "Hey hey, ho ho, this penis party's got to go," and don't allow their members to talk to men. In the end, the feminists are brought back to sense by beer (brought to them by men), and the "brainwashed feminist" falls back in love with the main character.

I say all this while also admitting that I loved this movie, despite it's terrible straw feminist trope.


I'm really glad to see you cover this trope. I think it is because of the straw feminists portrayed in media that for so many years I avoided calling myself a feminist. It was after watching some of your earlier videos that I decided that this was silly, and am willing to identify with the word "feminist".

wow really!? That's so nice

wow really!? That's so nice to hear. Thanks. In college I was definitely one of those women who refused to identify as feminist... but obviously I got over that *laugh*

Thank you. I needed this

Thank you. I needed this today. After a particularly rough week filled to the brim with douchebags galore, I was starting to doubt myself and our movements. I had actually begun to internalize this same trope. I began to doubt feminisms and wondered if I would ever feel safe using the word in public again. It's amazing, and frightening, how powerful these tropes can be even to those of us who are so negatively represented.

It really is outstanding how

It really is outstanding how powerful tropes and memes are, how they create and maintain very specific world views. I'm glad we have a spaces (like here on Bitch) where we can talk about them out loud as a form of resistance.

The section on the Power Puff

The section on the Power Puff Girls is interesting since I know Craig McCracken identifies as a feminist and is committed to promoting positive representations of women. (I actually interviewed him and Lauren Faust on feminism and cartoons two years ago. Unfortunately my write up fell through the cracks when I moved across the world two weeks later.) I am going to try to track down this episode.

I also noticed that Lauren

I also noticed that Lauren Faust (who identifies as feminist) was specifically connected to this episode. I'm sure the creators actually believe they were doing something good for feminism but the many complex ways that they completely undermined feminist ideals in this episode was just outstanding and hugely offensive. I probably watched this particular episode nearly 8-10 times and you'd have to have a very, super simple concept of 'equality' to believe that it's actually promoting women's rights... plus, making the "feminist" the villian... *facepalm*

I haven't see the Powerpuff

I haven't see the Powerpuff episode in a while, but I think that it could have worked as a feminist positive episode if the three women who came in at the end identified themselves as feminist and if the villian was only using feminism to manipulate the girls. Also of course, if they portrayed the city of Townsville as not an equality utopia and ended the episode with the girls attempting to fix some of the inequalities in their school. I did like their speech about Susan B Anthony. Sadly they could have used the episode to shoot down the straw feminist trope (the villian) and show everyone what real feminism was (the three women at the end).

This is great

I have enjoyed all your videos and this one is no exception. I knew I was a feminist (even though I didn't have the right word for it then) when I was a kid in Sunday School. I don't remember what the lesson was exactly, but the gist was that men have to be in charge of everything, from the household to government to business, and women's purpose was to assist men (submit if it's a married couple). I believe I cried when I went home that day and asked my mom if it was true that women weren't as good as men. Once I learned the definition of feminist I identified as one. It's amazing how many people have no idea what feminism is, they rely strictly on media portrayals and sad stereotypes. I've also had several people tell me, after they've gotten to know me and I've told them I'm a feminist, that I absolutely am not a feminist. To them, I can't be a feminist, since I wear a bra, am heterosexual, enjoy crocheting and knitting, and don't harbor an intense hatred of men. I ask if they've ever met a feminist like that, and their response is always no. The Straw Feminist trope, for me, shows so well how much the media has an impact on people's worldview. Great video.


Love this. The straw feminist is the WORST. I work in a male-dominated environment, and although we all get along, I get into arguments DAILY because, to them, feminist and feminazi are synonymous. I also work with some women who would never claim to be a feminist... and ALL of this is perpetuated by the straw feminists on television. I believe Beyonce and Lady Gaga have also distanced themselves from the term "feminist". So when even the pop stars who supposedly empower women through their songs can't bring themselves to embrace the term, how can we even hope to change anyone's mind?

Thank you so much for these

Thank you so much for these videos!

As a high-school senior in a supposedly PC town, I get shit all the time for being a feminist. Much like the young woman in your final clip, many of my peers believe in "equal rights" but not "feminism."

Anyway, I'm writing my college application essay about this phenomenon and I wanted to thank you for making awesome videos!!!


Wouldn't mind the trope if it wasn't for....

I actually wouldn't mind this trope if it wasn't for the fact that they tend to focus more on the "bad" aspects of feminism instead of showing a fair balanced range of feminists.

Take Christianity for example... We all have heard about the extreme religious fanatics.... but we all know that there are a wide range of Christians who may not even agree on the same things... that's why there are different branches of Christianity. But what Hollywood does with feminists is like akin to portraying The Westbro church as a true Representative for the entirety of Christianity.

Hollywood often goes out of their way to show people with differing beliefs even if they technically belong to the same religion.... they will even do so for non-religious things like ASPCA and Peta.

So, why the fuck would they not show the different branches of feminism? Every group will have their extremists... I've actually met a few extremists in feminist groups, so I know for a fact that they do exist. But I've also met with women who believed in feminism but did not agree with the extremists' method of doing things.

But then again, this is the same Hollywood who seems to have no fucking idea how things like Computers and video game work.... (just look at some tech-based movies and you'll see what I mean)... so no doubt they have zero idea that there are even such a thing as different branches of feminism.

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