Is There Room for ‘Anti-Feminists’ in the Fight for Gender Equality?

by | Blog Post

Like any movement for change, with feminism comes anti-feminism. The different definitions of anti-feminism that appear on Google are interesting. Some describe it simply as being opposed to feminism[1], including opposing the changes that are a consequence of the feminism movement[2]. On Urban Dictionary, where users can submit their own explanation, the top definition for anti-feminist describes the group as believing in equal rights but rejecting the modern feminist movement[3].  The fact that people who support equal rights are rejecting modern feminism shows how misconceived feminism is. In fact, recent research by Gina Kruschek[4] highlighted the misunderstandings of feminism in a study which analysed discussions within comments sections on feminist content.

The feminist movement has taken a long time to get going. In the grand scheme of things, women’s rights have only started to change in the last 150 years and there is still more to be done. Actively expressing yourself as an anti-feminist only slows down our progress, which, if you believe in equal rights, is contradicting your values. Feminism, regardless of age, race, disability or religion, seeks to find an equilibrium for all genders. This means less oppression and more choices.

It seems to be that when people who believe in equal rights reject modern feminism, what they mean is that they don’t associate themselves with the extremists of the group. And that’s okay, but outwardly describing yourself as anti-feminist makes room for misogynists and chauvinists to feel comfortable spouting their hate. Anti-feminist and misogynistic comments made in response to feminist articles justify the need for feminism in the first place[5]. If you believe in equal rights, you are a feminist. Own it. As long as the divide between feminism and anti-feminism exists, we can never break the stigma and the true meaning of feminism will continue to be misunderstood.

Tips for responding to anti-feminism/misogynistic discussions

  1. Stay eloquent in your response. It’s easy to become frustrated when someone is challenging your views that you so passionately believe in. Responding in a calm and articulate way helps to break the stigma of ‘angry feminists’.
  2. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes, when a person has nothing else to say, they go for low blows. They attack your character and your lifestyle choices. Always remember that this signifies their inability to offer meaningful contributions to the discussion, and at this point it’s probably best to walk away.
  3. Ignore (or block, where possible) violent or abusive messages. These are usually sent by misogynists who feel threatened by feminism. Messages like these are not worth your time or energy.

Above all, don’t be discouraged from using your voice by the fear of anti-feminist or misogynistic responses. What you have to say is important and there is a whole community here at Women’s Writes who are eager to hear you and support you.

Words by Charlotte Smith, Take a Paws

Photo by Lindsey LaMont on Unsplash

[1] https://www.lexico.com/definition/anti_feminist

[2] Smith (2008) The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History

[3] https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=antifeminist

[4] Kruschek (2019) Stigma in the comments section: Feminist and Anti-Feminist Discussions Online

[5] Helen Lewis: ‘Lewis’s Law’

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