Feminists are not “man haters,” a comprehensive new study reveals. Researchers find feminists and non-feminists display no difference in attitude towards men, debunking the common myth that the feminists dislike men.
In the most extensive study of its kind, an international 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 that feminists harbor negative attitudes towards men. Feminism is defined as a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression and to achieve gender equality in law and practice. This study was published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly.
Dr. Aífe Hopkins-Doyle, lecturer in social psychology at the University of Surrey, said, “For decades the feminist movement has been dogged by the perception that it is ‘anti-men’ and that feminists ‘hate men.’ This ‘misandry myth’ has been used to delegitimize and discredit the movement and has deterred women from joining it, and motivated men to oppose it—sometimes with violence.
“Feminism has achieved many impressive advances for women and girls, as well as for men and boys, so understanding whether there is any accuracy to the ‘anti-men’ stereotype is important for public debate. People should be forming opinions based on accurate information rather than inaccurate myths and opinions. Across many different groups of people, methods, and national contexts, and using meta-analysis of all our data we found very little evidence for the misandry myth that feminists hold negative attitudes toward men.”
To learn more about feminists’ attitudes towards men, researchers conducted five individual studies with 9,799 participants across nine countries, and a meta-analysis of all data. Following in depth surveys, researchers found that feminists in Italy, Poland, the U.S., and the U.K. have largely positive attitudes toward men, which are much higher than neutral or baseline values, and do not differ from non-feminists.
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 were identified.
Despite these findings, researchers also found feminists are wrongly stereotyped as having negative attitudes to 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 feminists feel toward men.
Looking specifically at a representative sample of U.K. adults, researchers found that feminists, compared to non-feminists, felt men posed more of a threat to women’s dignity and welfare. This was associated, in turn, with less positive attitudes to men. However, counteracting this tendency, feminists also perceived that men and women were more similar, and this led in turn to more positive attitudes toward men. Those surveyed were also found to underestimate feminists’ warmth towards men, which was associated with hostile sexism and a misperception that feminists see men and women as dissimilar.
In addition, researchers also investigated if feminist collective action such as participation and support of the #MeToo movement was linked to negative attitudes towards men. Surprisingly, researchers found participation and support for #MeToo was associated with anger about men’s mistreatment of women, but not with negative overall evaluations of men.
Aífe Hopkins-Doyle et al, The Misandry Myth: An Inaccurate Stereotype About Feminists’ Attitudes Toward Men, Psychology of Women Quarterly (2023). DOI: 10.1177/03616843231202708
New study debunks myth that feminists hate men (2023, November 17)
retrieved 18 November 2023
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