The Majority of Teen Girls Now Identify as “Feminists”

 

For years, the word “feminist” was thrown around as an insult, used to tear down strong, opinionated women who sought to ensure that their voices were heard and their rights upheld. But with the help of celebrities, social media influencers and activists who are openly talking about gender equality, it seems that more and more young people are self-identifying with the feminist cause.

According to a new survey of over 2,000 people conducted by the media agency UM London, 69 percent of British teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 18 personally defined themselves as feminists. The group found to be least likely to identify with feminism were those between the ages of 55 and 64, as well as those over the age of 65.

"Our data suggests that feminism has disentangled from its stigmatized past where the term was considered something of a dirty word," Sophia Durrani, the managing partner of strategy at UM London, told Broadly. "With seven out of 10 women aged 13-18 self-defining as a feminist (compared to less than 50 percent of all women) this is worth applauding.”

Perhaps this shift in young people’s interest towards feminism has been influenced by the large amount of celebrities who have used their platforms to advocate for social issues. Researchers at ICM surveyed male and female teens alike on their most influential role models and out of 43 celebrity options, Emma Watson was voted “most influential celebrity.”

Prior to her delivery of the iconic HeForShe campaign speech at the United Nations in 2014, Watson was encouraged not to use the word “feminism” in her speech, as it might alienate people from identifying with the movement for gender equality. But Watson stood firm in her identity as a feminist.

“Women are choosing not to identify as feminists,” Watson acknowledged in her speech. “Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and unattractive.”

Watson’s speech was received incredibly well around the world, as was her mission to dismantle society’s fear of the word “feminism.” She has continued to publicly voice her belief that feminism is an inclusive movement that benefits both men and women.

Activists hope that the widened acceptance of equality as beneficial for all people may encourage more young men to get involved in the cause. The ICM’s study found that only five percent of the teenage boys surveyed identified themselves with the term “feminist.”

“Young people are much more egalitarian-minded than ever before and we’ve moved on from empty ‘girl power’ talk to equality being a norm,” Durrani told Broadly. “This seismic shift could actually mean that a patriarchy that’s been in place for thousands of years could be coming to an end.”

From Rowan Blanchard and Amandla Stenberg to Malala Yousafzai, the number of famous teen feminists for young people to look up to continues to grow. Let’s hope that this generation continues to keep their minds open, to get involved in issues of social justice and to dismantle the idea that “feminism” is the second F-word once and for all.