Why more people now identify as feminists
More men and women are proud feminists.
A YouGov survey finds that 30% of Americans now identify as feminists, compared to 26% in 2016. Women are more likely to say that they back feminism with 38% identifying as feminists, compared to just 32% in 2016. But the number of men saying they are proud feminist is rising too: 22% compared to 19% two years back.
Alice Kerry, the associate director of YouGov Omnibus Research, notes that it likely reflects major societal events like the #MeToo movement, the women’s marches around the world, and the increased discussions about pay equity. These issues likely “contribute to an increased awareness in feminist issues, and so lend more people to step up and support the cause,” she says.
And celebs like Meghan Markle, Beyonce and Jessica Chastain identifying as feminists helped the feminist image too, experts say. “It’s easier to be a feminist today, because it’s not that big a deal. Feminism is just not the prickly identifier it once was. It’s much more user-friendly,” says advice columnist and relationship expert April Masini.
Plus, social media has helped the cause, as well. “The podium for feminism is in every home by way of the computer, the personal cellphone — and this is just increasing,“ says Masini. “In the past, you had to get booked on ‘Phil Donahue’ or get quoted in the press … today, anyone and everyone can speak up and be heard more easily.”
The rise in feminism may also be driven, in part, by millennials; many of whom think feminism is important to their identity, says Erika Martinez, a psychologist and former U.S. history professor. “We now have an entire generation of women who grew up believing they could do anything, but then find that’s not reality,” says Lauren Leader, the co-founder and CEO of All In Together, an organization devoted to giving women an equal voice. “It quickly changes for women who might otherwise think ‘feminism’ didn’t represent them to realizing if you believe men and women are equal and should have equal treatment, then you are a feminist.”
Still, the majority (55%) of Americans say that they don’t identify as feminist. Part of this is that some still have a negative view of feminists. One in four think feminists are anti-men, and more than four in 10 (41%) believe that feminists are “too extreme.”
But those who consider themselves feminists often can’t imagine why you wouldn’t call yourself one. “I will always call myself a feminist—and a womanist—because I staunchly believe in equal rights for women,” Chanté Griffin, a Los Angeles-based writer and performer who creates socially conscious art, tells Moneyish. “Perhaps one day the term will no longer be necessary; calling yourself a feminist will be a given for men and women, like calling yourself a human being. Until then, call me a feminist and watch me roar.”
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