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Half of students think feminism is "too radical", survey finds

Over half of students feel the feminism movement is too radical, according to a survey conducted by The Student Room.

Responses to the student online community's poll of over 2,000 students particularly highlighted a negative perception of feminism among male students, with nearly half (46 per cent) believing it meant women getting superior treatment to men, 41 per cent seeing it as representing "man hating", and 31 per cent associating it with "angry women".

The results, timed to coincide with International Women's Day, suggested female students were three times more likely to describe themselves as feminists as their male peers.

Female respondents had a more positive impression of feminism, seeing it as the political, economic and cultural equality of the sexes (64 per cent), the pursuit of equal rights for men and women (62 per cent) and both genders working together to advocate for equality (52 per cent).

The research also shed light on the impact that campaigns like #MeToo and Time’s Up have had on young people, and revealed some stark differences between male and female students.

Male students admitted to being more concerned about offending someone when sharing their opinions on feminist issues (45 per cent), and even reported to feeling tired of hearing about gender inequality (60 per cent). Most concerningly, 65 per cent of male respondents claimed that campaigns like #MeToo, Time’s Up and the Women’s March had no impact on them at all.

Amongst female students, however, the research revealed a very different stance, with 68 per cent of female respondents feeling more hopeful thanks to high profile campaigns. In addition, almost half of female respondents said they felt more informed on feminist issues (49 per cent), and would be more comfortable calling out gender inequality in the future (49 per cent).

The research also revealed that global activism had not just changed young women’s attitudes to gender inequality. One in five female respondents (20 per cent) had been inspired to take action following high profile campaigns by donating to a charity or attending an event. Amongst women who had experienced sexist behaviour in the past, 65 per cent of them said they would be more likely to take action thanks to these campaigns.

Hannah Morrish, Student Choice and Higher Education Lead at The Student Room said: “We’ve seen lots of conversations on the site with students sharing their opinions on these campaigns, and gender inequality in general. It’s encouraging to see from this research that the prominence of these campaigns is having an impact on young women’s attitudes towards gender equality, and is inspiring them to take action.

“However, the fact that young men have such a negative perception of feminism is concerning. It’s clear that there is still work that needs to be done to ensure young men are engaged with this issue, and feel part of the conversation."


Students Top Ten Feminist Icons in 2018

Michelle Obama
Emma Watson
Malala Yousafzai
Barack Obama
Oprah Winfrey
Emmeline Pankhurst
Serena Williams
Maya Angelou
Meryl Streep