Defining Anti-feminism in Today’s Age

Sierra Barrow, Staffer

Feminism today is males and females advocating for equality amongst all genders.

However the movement of anti-feminism is not necessarily considered to be female hating men but men and women afraid of breaking gender norms and delving into a world where equal opportunities are available for all people.

Anti-feminism can mean different things to many different people. APUSH teacher Willie Walker offers his own definition on the topic.

“[It is] the hate that women actually have a voice and that their voice is important to society,” Walker said.

Feminism has been considered to be a taboo and quite restricted topic of conversation throughout the timeline of American History and even before that.

Division of Culture, Arts and Communication at the University of Washington Tacoma Campus Dr. Edward Chamberlain explains the course anti-feminism has taken over time.

“Feminism has taken numerous forms throughout history and feminists have held diverse views on how to advance the cause of gender equality,” Chamberlain said.

The idea of feminism is not based off of the stereotype that it is an extremist group of women in hopes to banish men all together from society.

A misconception about feminism today as described by Feminists Studies professor at the University of Washington Dr. Natalie Jolly focuses on feminists being stereotyped.

“No one wants to identify with something that seems stale or of our parents’ generation. It works along the same lines making ‘feminist’ a bad word so that no one wants to be accused of being a (hairy, loud, angry, obnoxious, ugly, insert-insult-here) feminist. As a result, women (and men) avoid speaking out about gender inequality for fear of social sanction,” Jolly said.

Feminism is not made up of only radical women, feminism is more than the stereotype that it has.

Being a feminist is not a title exactly and it is more of a way of thinking. It is a belief.

“People who are seen as anti-feminist may not self-identify themselves as being anti-feminist. A person’s beliefs about gender are just one part of their identity,” Chamberlain said.

With anti-feminism typically being something viewed as mostly a negative, one can wonder how being an anti-feminist has benefits for both genders.

“There is certainly power in dismissing the relevance of feminism – it is very difficult to stand up and say ‘Hey, there is a problem here’ and we are desensitized to do this through a variety of cultural pressures,” Jolly said.

The anti-feminist movement affects young people today as Walker explains.

“[Anti-feminism] affects the youth, especially high school kids. Especially the teenagers because they have to come up into this world next and they have to understand that it is not just men that are in charge it is both groups working together,” Walker said.

Jolly explains that anti-feminism is a global issue and not specifically centered in America.

“It is a problem for women and girls in China and India, where girl babies are killed because of a preference for sons. It is a problem in the U.S. where women do not occupy leadership positions in government or business,” Jolly said.

The feminist movement has over the past year been highlighted and taking swift actions to speak out for change. Feminism can be a touchy conversation piece due to the objections of opposing individuals.

“I do think that some young men may feel targeted by feminist critique, or what they imagine feminism to be critiquing. The men in my class are constantly saying ‘Yeah, I never thought of that,’”Jolly said.

Being a feminist does not follow its stereotype. The education of its true meaning, as described by Jolly, is a key part of getting people to support the belief.

Being an anti-feminist can not necessarily be defined as hating women. Anti-feminism can be defined by people afraid to color outside of the lines and not follow gender norms.

“Many norms are ingrained in our ways of thinking and acting. Nevertheless, our cultures and societies are continuing to change due to a variety of developments such as activism, the Information Age, entertainment and other kinds of popular cultures that draw in millions of people,” Chamberlain said.

A part of these social norms can be seen as hate from men. With the abstract ways of thinking men can begin to feel uncomfortable with the changes going on.

For a considerable chunk of history men have always been the leaders, the bread winners and the ones that are depended on and now that is changing as described by Walker.

“I think the women are becoming stronger and the men are going to realize it and down the road they may have a problem or the men are just going to fall back and be lazy and just accept it,” Walker said.

Instead of fighting for a cause and picking a side of feminism or anti-feminism the quest for equality should be the goal of the people.

“Things can be equal without necessarily being the same, especially when we have different bodies (so maternity leave may be different from paternity leave, for example) and that need to be discussed as we continue to work for equality and sameness,” Jolly said.