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18th Apr 2024

A new study has debunked the myth that feminists hate men

Anna Martin

feminists feminist feminism

We’ve all heard of the angry man-hating feminist trope by now

The idea is reductionist and makes feminism sound less like a movement made to combat gender inequality and sexism and more about the dislike of men as a whole.

Yet the question still stands, is there any basis on which this concept was founded? Science might just have the answer.

A team of researchers led by Dr Aífe Hopkins-Doyle from the University of Surrey engaged nearly 10,000 participants to investigate the accuracy of the stereotype.

From their work, they found that the negative trope of feminists being “man-haters” has reduced both the willingness of women to identify as feminists and show their support for gender equality initiatives.

On top of this, publically identifying with the movement puts women at risk of ridicule in the “manosphere” – websites that promote masculinity and misogyny – where it is used to promote opposition to gender equality and to justify acts of violence.

In a way, if feminists were to harbour some negative feelings towards men it would make sense, these actions and attitudes do little to help things but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Following in-depth surveys, researchers found that feminists in Italy, Poland, the US, and the UK have largely positive attitudes toward men, which are much higher than neutral or baseline values, and do not differ from non-feminists.  

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Credit: Canva

Researchers also extended their investigation to women and men in China (mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau), India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Again, no difference in attitudes between feminists and non-feminists was identified. 

Despite these findings, researchers also found feminists are wrongly stereotyped as having negative attitudes toward men both in absolute terms and relative to nonfeminists’ attitudes.

Even feminists themselves, when asked to estimate how feminists felt about men, got it wrong and underestimated how positive they felt toward men.

In other words, the stereotype of feminists being anti-men persists even within feminist circles.

So where did the stereotype start?

Well, according to the research from the University of Surrey, there are two possible reasons, the first being that it’s an easy way of dismissing what the movement has to say.

This possibility was backed up by the fact that participants who scored highly on a measure of hostile sexism, viewing women as trying to take men’s power, were most prone to seeing feminists as man-haters.

The second is the idea that feminists see themselves and men as different from each other, the reality is that they see themselves as rather alike.

The core aim of feminists remains centred on achieving equality, not harming men.