A Win For Feminism!

“The group I would have to hate the most is feminists.”

My third year of high school, I took a sociology class with my fellow juniors, classmates I had known since I was five years old. Growing up in a small town, with little entertainment outside of gossip, we had all become particularly close. Our teacher assigned us to discuss prejudice by openly stating what groups of people we hated. A very provocative task, indeed, and a boy in front of me, who I had known for years, announced that he hated feminists. After all, they were all “politically correct b*tches.”

As a feminist, his admittance was hurtful, but unsurprising. In fact, I genuinely could count on my fingers (and have at least two left to flip off the guy in my class who believed women were less than men) the number of people who openly stated that they were feminists. I had plenty of friends who upheld feminism’s central values of equality between men and women and an end to discrimination and prejudice in all of its forms against any and all groups. However, whenever a discussion turned to one of these topics, the precluding statement was almost always, “I’m not a feminist, but...” In turning to social media and mass media I found the delightfully heartwarming and oft-repeated phrase “feminazi.” Needless to say, I had little hope for the continuation of feminism within my generation.

It is not everyday that I enjoy being proven wrong, but today is one of them. I am very excited to say that women (and men!) in our generation are embracing feminism.  According to a new national survey conducted in part by The Washington Post,  63% of women ages 18 to 34 consider themselves feminists, and one third of men, in general, consider themselves feminists. These are exciting statistics because there is no shame in feminism.

This is not to say feminism is a perfect ideology or movement. There is certainly radicalization, exclusion and discrimination within this belief system, but I have always felt that feminism is what you make of it because of all the topics that it encompasses. Feminism once started as a suffrage movement, then a women-in-the-workplace movement and now a new wave that focuses (finally) on the inclusion of different races, ethnicities, gender identities and sexual orientations. The majority of us can agree that women should be equal to men, in fact 85% of Americans do according to a 2015 Vox poll. This is a fundamental, core value of feminism that we can all rally behind.

The same national survey by the Washington Post found that 70% of all participants thought feminism was empowering, and when focusing on the demographic of young women aged 18 to 34, the percentage sky rockets to 83%. The other female age groups surveyed all had at least 51% identify as feminists and 56% consider feminism empowering.Young women are by far the largest age group supporting feminism.  This trend of young women being more likely to call themselves feminists is continued when looking across the Atlantic at the United Kingdom. UM London found that 69% of British teens aged 13-18 consider themselves feminists.

It is so wonderful that younger women and teenagers are not only seeking equality between men and women, but also are open about it. UM London's managing partner of strategy, states that "It suggests young women are now growing up in a world where they can't see why there should be any questions over equality." I think this is a world we should all love to live in.