The feminist Factor and the Emerging Electorate

New poll finds the majority of women voters consider themselves feminists

The feminist Factor and the Emerging ElectorateI’m sorry, what was that you were saying about how young women are afraid to call themselves feminists these days?

A poll commissioned by Ms. conducted just after the election found that 55 percent of women voters and 30 percent of men voters consider themselves feminists.

These results are generally 9 points higher than they were in 2008, when the same question was posed to voters, and this upward trend is likely to continue given the strong identification with feminism by younger women and women of color.

Speaking of younger women, a solid majority of them (58 percent) identify as feminists—as did 54 percent of older women, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of Democratic women and a respectable 38 percent of Republican women.

“The feminist factor cuts across race and ethnic lines,” they note. In fact, white women as a whole are considerably less likely than black and Latina women to claim the label, which is in line with the voting differences I’ve noted before. And which perhaps helps to explain why much of the media continues to act as if feminists are unicorns these days.

Unsurprisingly, voters’ views on feminism tend to correlate with their choice of candidates. It’s actually pretty amazing that so many self-identified feminists are Republicans. You’d think they’d be pressuring their party to evolve a bit harder.

But I wonder what we’re gonna do about the fact that older women aren’t as likely to embrace feminism as younger women. Perhaps they’ve been convinced the fight has already been won? Maybe they should be reading more feminist blogs. Just sayin’.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • John

    One other thing about women and feminism, which probably takes an MRA to see. Why do more women identify with feminism after they were given a dictionary definition of it? Either feminism is misunderstood or feminists have not been living up to the definition of feminist. Most people in my graduate class would have identified as feminist (men and women).

    When I brought up the situation at Simon Fraiser University every person in the class took a position opposite what the feminists at FSU were pushing. Simply put they believed that it was only fair for a school with a women’s center to also have a men’s center. I think most people believe in fairness, but is that what feminism is today?

    • Violet

      I think you’ve actually got it backwards. Anti-feminists have successfully managed to spin the word “feminist” to mean man-hating extremist who wants to put women in power over men and get women special privileges that men can’t have. Now feminists are afraid to identify as such because doing so comes with consequences that distract from whatever productive goal you are actually trying to pursue.

      That word is often used as an insult and many people who identify as feminists get abuse merely for identifying that way, before anyone even knows what their feminism entails. I identify as a feminist now because taking away the identifier makes it harder for people to join and work together. But for most of my life I did not identify as such because it was easier to just pursue feminist goals without constantly getting sidetracked and wasting time having to defend the word “feminist.”

  • honeybee

    How many people said “not a feminist” or an “anti-feminist”? Would be good to see the full breakdown of results.

    Nevertheless these are impressive numbers – better then I expected for sure. Seems this feminism thing is catching on afterall! :)

  • The plummer

    Got it backwards? Me thinks NOT! Dictionary definitions are often misleading, and words are of little value. It’s all about ACTION.

    When someone is using slight of hand, such as presenting a dictionary definition of something, meanwhe constantly engaging in behavior that does not align with that definition, presumably for less than benevolence. One can safely assume that the behavior is deceptive at best, and sociopathic or psychopathic at worst.

    I’m sorry that I feel this way, however I cannot help but feel that people whom constantly present the dictionary definition of feminism as what the actions of feminism is actually doing, are nothing but wolves in sheep’s clothing, and how do you expose that fact, one must rip off the clothing for all the other sheep to see that it’s time for them to run!!!!

    • cosmopolite

      What you deplore, I call Trojan Horse feminism ;)