Feminasty, feminazi ... why do millennials loathe feminism?
Young people reckon the label is a dirty word
If new research is anything to go by, the f-word South African millennials consider a dirty word is … feminism.
The newly released SPACE Youth Opinion Survey for 2017/2018 found that while 71% of those surveyed believed in gender equality (particularly in the workplace), only 34% of them considered themselves to be feminists. 44% of the study’s respondents said they support gender equality “but don’t want to be called a feminist”.While the study is not huge by any means – 500 millennials were interviewed telephonically, face-to-face and online – its finding that people who are all for equality of the sexes balk at the label “feminist” is hardly surprising.
Of course it would be easy to assume that this has something to do with us millennials being label-averse (just the label “millennial” makes me cringe). But there’s more to it than that.
Many people’s disdain for feminism isn’t about the ideology of the movement, but rather what kind of people it’s seen to represent. It’s about the denotation more than it is about the connotation.
The word feminist is slung around like an insult on social media, often accompanied by adjectives such as “angry”, “bitter”, “lonely” and “single”. A feminist, it seems, is an angry witch who spews vitriol at the world while throwing men into her cauldron (which is not entirely inaccurate). The word “feminist” probably brings to mind a woman whose face is twisted into grotesque expressions, gargoyle-style, while she screams about how much she hates men.
And yes, that is some of us, but if you believe in gender equality, you believe in feminism and – newsflash – you most probably are a feminist.The fear/hatred of feminists is very evident on Twitter, where to be referred to as a member of “Feminist Twitter” is to be condemned to a dark corner where there are no men and women are burning sanitary pads in a bonfire (sounds blissful, if you ask me).But if people bothered to educate themselves beyond Twitter, they would know that feminism is a simple concept that lacks malice. The award-winning author and problematic fave Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explains it best in her TED talk, We Should All Be Feminists: “… a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes”.Misconceptions about feminism aside, the SPACE Youth Opinion Survey sheds light on other aspects of South African millennial life. Naturally, the most pressing issue for those surveyed was unemployment (61% said it was their key concern in South Africa).
A total of 69% were worried about the economic state of the country, 51% felt that broad-based black economic empowerment policies were ineffective and 69% believed affirmative action is necessary to address inequality.
Despite being portrayed in the media as lazy, entitled and selfish idiots, 90% of the millennials in the study felt “a moral obligation when it comes to helping the poor”. They believed in a decent minimum wage (84%) but only 61% would be willing to pay more personal tax to help make this a reality.With electioneering season in full swing, the millennial vote is one that many a political party is dying to clinch. Unlike our parents, half of us, according to the survey, choose our votes based on policies rather than parties, but 42% have no faith whatsoever in our politicians.
The survey was done by SPACE.tm, a strategy agency. You can access the full report here