I Am Woman: Regaining an understanding of feminism

image 1The Suffragettes and activists like Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Coretta Scott King dreamed of a world where women would be viewed on the same footing as men. It is unlikely, however, that they would have anticipated the fervent backlash to feminism, lead by women, coined as the “Women Against Feminism” movement. But with International Women’s Day coming, the question must be asked: What does it mean to be a feminist in 2016? Is it all about male-bashing and female supremacy?

Examining data from 767 women who took our Gender Roles Test, we focused our analysis on two distinct groups: Self-proclaimed feminists and non-feminists. Not surprisingly, their views of a woman’s and man’s role in the home, at work, and in relationships differed significantly:

Gender Roles at Work

  • 3% of the Feminists and 44% of the Non-feminists believe that men are better suited to management positions than women.
  • 15% of the Feminists and 49% of the Non-feminists believe that men are more cut-throat in business.
  • 1% of the Feminists and 41% of the Non-feminists believe that the most important decision-makers in a company should be men.
  • 8% of the Feminists and 43% of the Non-feminists indicated that their career choice was (or will be) impacted by what is considered appropriate for their gender.
  • 17% of the Feminists and 33% of the Non-feminists feel less intimidated by women in the workplace than men.

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Gender Roles in Relationships

  • 10% of the Feminists and 64% of the Non-feminists believe that during courtship, men should plan the dates.
  • 33% of the Feminists and 77% of the Non-feminists believe that men are much more emotionally reserved than women.
  • 96% of the Feminists and 23% of the Non-feminists think it’s OK for a woman to ask a man out on a date.
  • 97% of the Feminists and 20% of the Non-feminists think it’s OK for a woman to propose to a man.
  • 33% of the Feminists and 85% of the Non-feminists believe that men should be chivalrous.
  • 31% of the Feminists and 69% of the Non-feminists believe that men are more likely to want to have casual sex than women.
  • 11% of the Feminists and 43% of the Non-feminists believe that women should play hard to get.
  • 3% of the Feminists and 49% of the Non-feminists believe that women should have fewer sexual partners than men.
  • 1% of the Feminists and 34% of the Non-feminists believe that women who are sexually assertive are likely promiscuous.

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Gender Roles in Child-rearing

  • 24% of the Feminists and 90% of the Non-feminists believe that women are more nurturing than men.
  • 4% of the Feminists and 72% of the Non-feminists believe that women should do the bulk of the childcare.
  • 6% of the Feminists and 54% of the Non-feminists would think less of a man who was a stay-at-home parent.
  • 3% of the Feminists and 61% of the Non-feminists believe that men should be the disciplinarians in the family.
  • 10% of the Feminists and 66% of the Non-feminists would feel bad about working outside the home while there are children to raise.
  • 3% of the Feminists and 26% of the Non-feminists believe that women who work outside the home are neglectful of their children.
  • 21% of the Feminists and 61% of the Non-feminists think that boys are more likely to act out than girls.
  • 1% of the Feminists and 39% of the Non-feminists think that little girls should be discouraged from being too tomboyish.
  • 7% of the Feminists and 46% of the Non-feminists think that boys should do whatever they can to avoid being called a “sissy.”
  • 1% of the Feminists and 18% of the Non-feminists would teach their son that crying and whining are not acceptable behaviors for boys.
  • 1% of the Feminists and 33% of the Non-feminists don’t want their children to play with toys that are meant for the other gender (e.g. boys playing with dolls, girls playing with toy trucks).

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Gender Roles in Finances and Household Responsibilities

  • 3% of the Feminists and 84% of the Non-feminists believe that men should be the main breadwinners in a couple.
  • 1% of the Feminists and 48% of the Non-feminists believe that men should control the finances in their family.
  • 10% of the Feminists and 95% of the Non-feminists would like to be taken care of financially by a man.
  • 4% of the Feminists and 53% of the Non-feminists would be uncomfortable if they made more money than their partner.
  • 89% of the Feminists but none of the Non-feminists would end a relationship with a man who tried to get them to do most of the housework.
  • 97% of the Feminists and 15% of the Non-feminists would choose (or chose) a man who believes in equal sharing of household duties.
  • 89% of the Feminists and 8% of the Non-feminists prefer to share decision-making responsibilities with their spouse.

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Sense of Femininity

  • 6% of the Feminists and 69% of the Non-feminists make choices about what to wear and how to act based on what is the most feminine thing to do.
  • 11% of the Feminists and 46% of the Non-feminists admitted that they feel like “less of a woman” when they are around another female whom they perceive as being more beautiful.
  • 96% of the Feminists and 36% of the Non-feminists believe that refusing to get married or have children doesn’t make them any less of a woman.

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There are many misconceptions on both sides of the table about what it means to be a feminist. I think a lot of the backlash against feminism centers more around radical feminism, but it’s important to understand that not all feminists are revolutionaries who think that the world should be run by women and that society should become a matriarchy – and even then, people have a right to their own opinion, as long as it doesn’t bring harm to others. The bottom line is that whether you’re a conservative feminist, radical feminist, or traditionalist is entirely your choice – there is no right or wrong. If you are happy with how you live your life, then more power to you.

Instead of trying to convince women that their life would be better in one way or the other, why don’t we stop promoting false beliefs about what it means to be a feminist or a non-feminist?

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Insightfully yours,

Queen D

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One thought on “I Am Woman: Regaining an understanding of feminism

  1. Pingback: What do career-focused women value? The same thing as homemakers and working moms | Queendom Blog

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