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Antifeminism is opposition to feminism in some or all of its forms.


The Oxford English Dictionary defines an anti-feminist as "one opposed to women or to feminism; a person (usu. a man) who is hostile to sexual equality or to the advocacy of women's rights."[1] The Oxford Online Dictionary defines an anti-feminist as "(adjective) opposed to feminism; (noun) a person opposed to feminism."[2] Collins Online English Dictionary defines anti-feminism as "the opposition to feminism."[3]

In common parlance, anti-feminist is often used to describe an opposition to some or all of organized political activism identified as feminism, especially that which is perceived to be of an extreme or unjust nature.

Sociologist Michael Flood argues that antifeminism denies at least one of three general principles of feminism: that social arrangements among men and women are neither natural nor divinely determined; that social arrangements among men and women favor men; or that there are collective actions that can and should be taken to transform these arrangements into more just and equitable arrangements.[4] Michael Kimmel, a men's studies scholar, defines antifeminism as "the opposition to women's equality." He says that antifeminists oppose "women's entry into the public sphere, the re-organization of the private sphere, women's control of their bodies, and women's rights generally." This, he says, is justified by antifeminists through "recourse to religious and cultural norms, and sometimes... in the name of 'saving' masculinity from pollution and invasion." He argues that antifeminists consider the "traditional gender division of labor as natural and inevitable, perhaps also divinely sanctioned."[5]

It has been argued that "little research has been done on antifeminism whether from the perspective of the sociology of social movements or even of women's studies", and that antifeminism has mostly taken the form of masculinism arguing "that men are in crisis because of the feminization of society".[6]


21st century[edit]

Contemporary issues surrounding antifeminism include:

Concerns of fairness in matters of "Family Law", regarding things like child custody, paternity liability, and child support payment.

Concerns of sex or gender inequality in the criminal justice system, such as fairness in sentencing for like crimes. [7]

20th century[edit]

In the latter 20th century,the term antifeminist was used to describe various opposing beliefs or attitudes surrounding a contentiously debated legislative movement created by feminists known as the Equal Rights Amendment or ERA.

19th century[edit]

In the nineteenth century, the centerpiece of antifeminism was opposition to women's suffrage.[citation needed] Opponents of women's entry into institutions of higher learning argued that education was too great a physical burden on women. In 'Sex in Education: or, a Fair Chance for the Girls (1873), Harvard professor Edward Clarke predicted that if women went to college, their brains would grow bigger and heavier, and their wombs would atrophy.[8] He based his prediction on the observation that college-educated women had fewer children than non-college-educated women. Other antifeminists opposed women's entry into the labor force, or their right to join unions, to sit on juries, or to obtain birth control and control of their sexuality.[5]

Antifeminist stances[edit]

Some[who?] antifeminists have argued that feminism has resulted in changes to society's previous norms relating to sexuality, which they see as detrimental to traditional values or conservative religious beliefs.[citation needed] For example, the ubiquity of casual sex and the decline of marriage are mentioned as negative consequences of feminism.[9][10] Many of these traditionalists oppose women's entry into the workforce, political office, and the voting process, as well as the lessening of male authority in families. Antifeminists argue that a change of women's roles is a destructive force that endangers the family, or is contrary to religious morals. For example, Paul Gottfried maintains that the change of women's roles "has been a social disaster that continues to take its toll on the family" and contributed to a "descent by increasingly disconnected individuals into social chaos".[11]

Most modern-day antifeminists oppose feminism on naturalistic rather than religious or traditional grounds.[citation needed] They view feminism as a denial of innate differences between the genders, and an attempt to reprogram people against their biological tendencies.[citation needed] Antifeminists also frequently argue that feminism, despite espousing equality, ignores rights issues unique to males. Some believe that the feminist movement has achieved its aims and now seeks higher status for women than for men via special rights and exemptions.[12][13][14]

Antifeminism as extremism[edit]

Critics of terms like antifeminism or related anti-feminist activism to feminist activism, have portrayed antifeminism as an attempt to undermine legitimate concerns of women's rights and propagate misogynistic ideology.[citation needed]

The term antifeminism is viewed by some as a loaded word. Writers such as Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Katie Roiphe and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, who define themselves as feminists, have been labeled "antifeminists" by others[15][16] because of their positions regarding oppression and lines of thought within feminism.[17] Authors Patai and Koertge argue that by labeling these women "antifeminists", the intention is to silence them and prevent any debate on the state of feminism.[18]


Symbol used for signs and buttons by ERA opponents

Founded in the US by Phyllis Schlafly in October 1972, STOP ERA, now known as Eagle Forum lobbied successfully to block the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the USA.[19] It was also Schlafly who forged links between STOP ERA and other conservative organizations, as well as single-issue groups against abortion, pornography, gun control, and unions. By integrating STOP ERA with the thus-dubbed New Right she was able to leverage a wider range of technological, organizational and political resources, successfully targeting pro-feminist candidates for defeat.[19]

In India, the Save Indian Family Foundation is an antifeminist organization[20] opposing what they view as biased legislation relating to dowry harassment and domestic violence.[21]

In some other countries, antifeminist organisations have had little success. In Australia, Babette Francis has led the Endeavour Forum[22] (formerly "Women Who Want to be Women") for over twenty-five years but has failed to halt ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), as well as the eventual introduction of medical abortion in Australia, and the successive liberalization of laws related to abortion in Australia within every state and territory.[citation needed] REAL Women of Canada was similarly unsuccessful when it came to preventing decriminalisation of abortion in Canada and same-sex marriage in Canada, while New Zealand's Women For Life became the "Family Education Network" before disappearing altogether.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Anti-feminist". Oxford English Dictionary. 2010. 
  2. ^ "Anti-feminist". Oxford Dictionaries Online. 
  3. ^ "Antifeminism". Collins English Dictionary. 
  4. ^ Flood, Michael (2007-07-18). International encyclopedia of men and masculinities. ISBN 978-0-415-33343-6. 
  5. ^ a b Kimmel, Michael (2004). "Antifeminism". In Kimmel, Michael. Men and Masculinities: A Social, Cultural, and Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. pp. 35–7. 
  6. ^ Blais, Melissa; Francis Dupuis-Déri (19 Dec 2011). "Masculinism and the Antifeminist Countermovement". Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest 11 (1): 21–39. doi:10.1080/14742837.2012.640532. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Clarke, Edward H. (1873). Sex and Education. Wildside. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-8095-0170-0. 
  9. ^ Mary A. Kassian, The Feminist Mistake (2005) ISBN 1-58134-570-4
  10. ^ Carrie L. Lukas, The politically incorrect guide to women, sex, and feminism, Regnery Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-59698-003-6, ISBN 978-1-59698-003-7
  11. ^ Gottfried, Paul (2001). "The Trouble With Feminism". Archived from the original on 20 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  12. ^ Wattenberg, B (1994). "Has Feminism Gone Too Far?". MenWeb. Archived from the original on 13 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  13. ^ Pizzey, Erin (1999). "How The Women's Movement Taught Women to Hate Men". Fathers for Life. Archived from the original on 26 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  14. ^ Janice Shaw Crouse (2006). "What Friedan Wrought". Concerned Women for America. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  15. ^ Judith Stacey, Is Academic Feminism an Oxymoron?, Signs, Vol. 25, No. 4, Feminisms at a Millennium. (Summer, 2000), pp. 1189–1194
  16. ^ Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich, Review: 'Feminist Attacks on Feminisms: Patriarchy's Prodigal Daughters', Feminist Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1. (Spring, 1998), pp. 159–175
  17. ^ BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine,by Margaret Cho (Foreword), Lisa Jervis (Editor), Andi Zeisler (Editor), 2006
  18. ^ Patai and Koertge, Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies, (2003)
  19. ^ a b Tierney, Helen (1999). Women's Studies Encyclopedia. Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated. p. 95. 
  20. ^ 52 J. Legal Pluralism & Unofficial L. 49 (2006) Playing off Courts: The Negotiation of Divorce and Violence in Plural Legal Settings in Kolkata; Basu, Srimati
  21. ^ Save Indian Family: About us, Retrieved 2008-12-31.
  22. ^ Endeavour Forum homepage
  23. ^ Warren Farrell "The Myth of Male Power," Berkeley Publishing Group, 1996

Further reading[edit]

Literature about antifeminism[edit]

  • Redefining the New Woman, 1920-1963 (Antifeminism in America: A Collection of Readings from the Literature of the Opponents to U.S. Feminism, 1848 to the Present), Howard-Zophy
  • Un-American Womanhood: Antiradicalism, Antifeminism, and the First Red Scare, Kim E. Nielsen
  • Kampwirth, Karen. 2006. "Resisting the Feminist Threat: Antifeminist Politics in Post-Sandinista Nicaragua" NWSA Journal. Vol. 18, No 2. (Summer). pp. 73–100.
  • Kampwirth, Karen. 2003. "Arnoldo Alemán Takes on the NGOs: Antifeminism and the New Populism in Nicaragua" Latin American Politics and Society. Vol. 45. No. 2. (Summer) 2003. pp. 133–158.
  • Kampwirth, Karen. 1998. "Feminism, Antifeminism, and Electoral Politics in Post-War Nicaragua and El Salvador" Political Science Quarterly Vol. 113, No. 2. (Summer) pp. 259–279.
  • Cynthia D. Kinnard, Antifeminism in American Thought: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1986, ISBN 0-8161-8122-5)
  • Laura Kipnis, The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability (Pantheon, 2006).
  • Jane Mansbridge: Why We Lost the ERA, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1986
  • Schreiber, Ronnee (2008). Righting Feminism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533181-3. 
  • G. Swanson, Antifeminism in America: A Historical Reader (2000) ISBN 0-8153-3437-0

Antifeminist literature[edit]

External links[edit]