67% in UK support Gender Equality, but only 7% feminists

From FAWCETT SOCIETYOver two thirds support equality for women and men but most resist the feminist label.men-against-violence-against-women

The UK is a nation of ‘hidden feminists’ declares Fawcett Society – Over two thirds support equality for women and men but most resist the feminist label – Over two thirds of people (67%) support equality for women and men.

150 years after Millicent Fawcett first delivered the petition for women’s suffrage to parliament, the biggest ever poll of its kind, conducted by Survation, has shown that there is widespread support for feminist values in the UK (1). However it seems we are a nation of ‘hidden feminists’ with only 7% of people across the UK actually describing themselves as feminist.

 Millicent Garrett Fawcett of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies
Millicent Garrett Fawcett of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies

Unsurprisingly women are more likely to be sympathetic to feminism (74%) and to identify as feminist (9%). The poll found that men very were supportive of equality of the sexes (86% of men wanting this for women in their lives) but perhaps predictably even less of them (only 4%) would identify as feminist.

The Fawcett Society, the leading gender equality charity, has carried out the survey of 8,000 people, undertaken by Survation (2), to mark its 150th anniversary. Chief Executive, Sam Smethers said: “At Fawcett we proudly identify as feminists and encourage others to do the same but we recognise that isn’t for everyone.

TheYoung Feminist Meet took place on 15th December, 2015 at Indian Coffee Home, CP, New Delhi.
TheYoung Feminist Meet took place on 15th December, 2015 at Indian Coffee Home, CP, New Delhi.

The overwhelming majority of the public share our feminist values but don’t identify with the label. However the simple truth is if you want a more equal society for women and men then you are in fact a feminist. “In our survey we also asked people for their instant reaction to the word ‘feminist’. We found the negative responses clearly in the minority as others saw the word as political, referring to campaigners, or offered explicitly positive words.”

The poll asked respondents to say the first word they think of when they hear the word “feminist”. The word triggered a wide range of responses, from negatives such as ‘bitchy’ (26%) to positives such as ‘strength’ (22%), and names such as Hilary Clinton (5%) or political connotations such as ‘suffragette’ (17%). 17% of respondents used words related to gender such as “woman” or “female”. Sam Smethers continues: “


Our survey found that opinion was most polarised amongst young people who were both more likely to be hostile to, and more likely to identify with, feminism. Young people are also more likely to believe that the ‘job is done’ as far as gender equality is concerned while older women in particular take a very different view, no doubt informed by lived experience.” “Feminism is enjoying a welcome resurgence now, particularly amongst young women. But if we want to secure lasting change in our society we need to bring that mainstream majority with us.slutwalk

As feminists, the challenge comes back to us to include those women and men who want to achieve equality but who do not readily identify with the term. “There is an opportunity now to build on this renewed feminist energy and mobilise the mainstream. That is where Fawcett’s focus will be.” The poll found that sympathy for feminist values and identification as a ‘feminist’ varied considerably across age ranges.

Younger women are more likely to self identify as feminist – 19% of women aged 18-24 and 13% of those aged 25-34 describe themselves in this way, compared to just 5% of those over 65. Surprisingly young women and men are also more likely to actually oppose feminism – 8% of those aged 18-34 describe themselves in this way as compared to 4% of those aged 35-44 and just 2% of the over 55’s.tumblr_mpfgjimQ8J1qds652o1_500

Overall sympathy with feminism is lower amongst the young at 61% for those aged 18-34 but this figure climbs to 68% for 35-54 and 72% for the over 55s. Despite being more sympathetic to feminist values as people get older we also see a decline in the proportion of people who actually identify themselves as feminist: 6% for 35-54 year olds and only 3% of the over 55s. Even though there is widespread support for a society where women and men are equal the majority (62%) believe that more must be done to achieve this equality.

Men aged between 25-34 were twice as likely to oppose feminism (10%) than men overall (5%). They were nearly twice as likely as men aged over 65 to believe that women’s equality had ‘gone too far’ (20% vs 11%) and significantly more likely to believe they would be disadvantaged (17%) compared with those men aged 35 and above (Only 9% of those aged 35-44 believed they would be disadvantaged; 4% of those aged 45+) Sam Smethers said: “63569572895973711759440380_joseph_gordon-levitt__big

This recent resurgence in feminism has also been accompanied by an anti-feminist backlash yet the overwhelming support we see in this poll for feminist values shows that anti-feminist activists are in a minority. It is vital we ensure this small group of people do not derail the important work of the feminist movement which such a large percentage of the population supports.

“Whether you embrace the feminist label or prefer to be a hidden feminist, it is clear that the majority of the UK believes in equality between women and men – and this is great news. We need to work together to speed up the pace of change and achieve women’s equality for the benefit of all.”170396a3714d82d705f1cdd2d1b8d6fc

from FAWCETT SOCIETY with thanks

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One thought on “67% in UK support Gender Equality, but only 7% feminists”

  1. Actions speak louder than words. Sure you say you’re for equality, but 2 of your pictures here say stop violence against women, and zero for stop violence against people/men, even though men make up the vast vast vast majority of victims of violence, both criminal and in war. That is what the majority of feminist actions are, focusing on perceiving women as victims regardless of reality.


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