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For the Japanese band, see Anti Feminism.

Antifeminism is an ideology that is broadly defined as an opposition to feminism or some aspect of feminism. The meaning of antifeminism has varied across time and cultures and it has attracted both men and women. Antifeminism may be motivated by general hostility towards women's rights,[1] the belief that feminist theories of patriarchy and disadvantages suffered by women in society are incorrect or exaggerated,[2][3] or that feminism as a movement encourages misandry and seeks to harm or oppress men. For example, in the late 1800s and early 1900s it resisted women's suffrage.[4][5]


Sociologist Michael Flood argues that an antifeminist ideology denies at least one of what he identifies as the three general principles of feminism:[2] 1. That social arrangements among men and women are neither natural nor divinely determined (see sociology of gender). 2. That social arrangements among men and women favor men (see patriarchy), and, 3. That there are collective actions that can and should be taken to transform these arrangements into more just and equitable arrangements (see timeline of women's rights (other than voting) and timeline of women's suffrage).

Michael Kimmel, a feminist 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." Kimmel further writes that antifeminist argumentation relies on, "religious and cultural norms", while, sometimes, proponents of antifeminism advance their cause as a means 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."[1]

Canadian sociologists, Melissa Blais and Francis Dupuis-Déri, write that antifeminist thought has primarily taken the form of an extreme version masculinism, in which, "men are in crisis because of the feminization of society".[6] However, in the same article, they also note that, "little research has been done on antifeminism whether from the perspective of the sociology of social movements or even of women's studies," indicating that an understanding of what the full range of antifeminist ideology consists of is incomplete.

"Antifeminist" is also used to describe female authors, some of whom define themselves as feminists, based on their opposition to some or all elements of feminist movements. Other feminists label writers such as Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Katie Roiphe and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese with this term[7][8] because of their positions regarding oppression and lines of thought within feminism.[9] Daphne Patai and Noreta Koertge argue that by labeling these women antifeminists, the intention is to silence them and prevent any debate on the state of feminism.[10]

The meaning of antifeminism has varied across time and cultures and the antifeminist ideology attracts both men and women. Some women, for example the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League campaigned against women's suffrage. Emma Goldman, for example, was widely considered antifeminist during her fight against suffragism in the US. Decades later, however, she was heralded as a founder of anarcha-feminism.[11]

Antifeminist stances[edit]

Some 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.[12][13][14] For example, the ubiquity of casual sex and the decline of marriage are mentioned as negative consequences of feminism.[15][16] 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.[17] 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".[18]

Some antifeminists view feminism as a denial of innate differences between the genders, and an attempt to reprogram people against their biological tendencies.[19] 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.[20][21][22]


American antisuffragists in the early 20th century

19th century[edit]

In the 19th century, the centerpiece of antifeminism was opposition to women's suffrage.[5] 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.[23] Other antifeminists[dubious ] 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.[1]

20th century[edit]

According to historian Landon Storrs, in the years following World War II antifeminism was bolstered by the prevailing anti-communism of the period. Storrs points to a "striking number" of women in government agencies who were accused of Communist sympathies and to rhetoric appealing to "popular antifeminism" that was often used against them. She concludes that conservative anti-communism harmed the careers of females in government while it "undercut policy goals that many of them shared, and reinforced antifeminism in the wider culture."[24]

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.

In 1989, antifeminism was heavily discussed in Canada following the École Polytechnique massacre. The perpetrator Marc Lépine targeted and killed 14 female students. Many feminist groups and public officials have characterized it as an anti-feminist attack that was representative of wider societal violence against women.[25][26][27] The government of Canada and criminal justice officials feared that extensive public discussion about the killings could lead to further antifeminist violence.[28] As a result, a public inquiry was not held,[29] the perpetrator's suicide letter was not officially released and the resulting police investigation was not made public.[30][31]

21st century[edit]

A protest against an International Women's Day march in Warsaw, Poland in 2010

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.[32]

BBC and Time, among others, have covered a 2014 social media trend "Women Against Feminism" which consists of young women protesting against feminist ideas. They cite issues like demonizing men (misandry) and argue against claims such as that women are being oppressed in 21st century Western countries.[3][33][34][35][36][37]

The Guardian and Jezebel has also reported on an increasing number of women and female celebrities rejecting feminism and instead subscribing to humanism.[38][39] Several women who identify as being humanist and anti-feminist have argued in an article for the Guardian that feminism is a discriminatory ideology and continues to portray women as victims.[38] This article was written in response to Australian Labor senator, Penny Wong's speech on the 11th of April at the Annual Jessie Street Luncheon where she defended feminism, stating, "Feminism is not an extreme term – it is a mainstream movement that has transformed modern Australia for the better."[40]

However, in retaliation to the social media trend, modern day feminists also began to upload similar pictures to websites such as Twitter and Tumblr in response. Most used the same hashtag, "womenagainstfeminism", but instead made satirical and bluntly parodic comments.[41] In November 2014, Time magazine included "feminist" on its annual list of proposed banished words. After initially receiving the majority of votes (51%), a Time editor apologized for including the word in the poll and removed it from the results.[42][43]


Symbol used for signs and buttons by ERA opponents

Founded in the U.S. by Phyllis Schlafly in 1972, Stop ERA, now known as "Eagle Forum", lobbied successfully to block the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S.[44] 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.[44]

In India, the Save Indian Family Foundation is an antifeminist organization,[45] organization is opposed to a number of laws that they claimed to have been used against men.[46] REAL Women of Canada was unsuccessful when it came to preventing decriminalisation of abortion in Canada and same-sex marriage in Canada.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Literature about antifeminism[edit]

  • Nielsen, Kim E. (2001). Un-American womanhood : antiradicalism, antifeminism, and the first Red Scare. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. ISBN 978-0814250808. 
  • 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
  • Faludi, Susan (1991). Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. Crown Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-517-57698-8. 
  • 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)
  • Kipnis, Laura, The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability (Pantheon, 2006).
  • Mansbridge, Jane: Why We Lost the ERA, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1986
  • Nielsen, Kim E. Un-American Womanhood: Antiradicalism, Antifeminism, and the First Red Scare
  • Schreiber, Ronnee (2008). Righting Feminism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533181-3. 
  • Swanson, G. Antifeminism in America: A Historical Reader (2000) ISBN 0-8153-3437-0

Antifeminist literature[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kimmel, Michael (2004). "Antifeminism". In Kimmel, Michael. Men and Masculinities: A Social, Cultural, and Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. pp. 35–7. 
  2. ^ a b Flood, Michael (2007-07-18). "International encyclopedia of men and masculinities". ISBN 978-0-415-33343-6. 
  3. ^ a b Brosnan, Greg (July 24, 2014). "#BBCtrending: Meet the 'Women Against Feminism'". BBC. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  4. ^ Ford, Lynne E. (2009). Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics. Infobase Publishing. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-4381-1032-5. 
  5. ^ a b Maddux, Kristy. "When patriots protest: The anti-suffrage discursive transformation of 1917." Rhetoric & Public Affairs 7.3 (2004): 283-310.
  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.  Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  7. ^ Judith Stacey, Is Academic Feminism an Oxymoron?, Signs, Vol. 25, No. 4, Feminisms at a Millennium. (Summer, 2000), pp. 1189–1194
  8. ^ Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich, Review: 'Feminist Attacks on Feminisms: Patriarchy's Prodigal Daughters', Feminist Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1. (Spring, 1998), pp. 159–175
  9. ^ BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine, by Margaret Cho (Foreword), Lisa Jervis (Editor), Andi Zeisler (Editor), 2006
  10. ^ Patai and Koertge, Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies, (2003)
  11. ^ Marshall, Peter (1992). Demanding the impossible : a history of anarchism. London: HarperCollins. p. 409. ISBN 0-00-217855-9. 
  12. ^ Desai, Murli. The Paradigm of International Social Development: Ideologies, Development Systems and Policy Approaches. Routledge. p. 119. 
  13. ^ Robert T. Francoeur; Raymond J. Noonan. The Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. A&C black. p. 1163. 
  14. ^ Jaggar, Alison M. Feminist Politics and Human Nature (Philosophy and Society). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 75. 
  15. ^ Mary A. Kassian, The Feminist Mistake (2005) ISBN 1-58134-570-4
  16. ^ 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
  17. ^ Busch, Elizabeth Kaufer. Democracy Reconsidered. Lexington. p. 242. 
  18. ^ Gottfried, Paul (2001). "The Trouble With Feminism". Archived from the original on 20 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  19. ^ Leahy, Michael P. T. The Liberation Debate: Rights at Issue. Psychology Press. p. 10. 
  20. ^ Wattenberg, B (1994). "Has Feminism Gone Too Far?". MenWeb. Archived from the original on 13 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ Janice Shaw Crouse (2006). "What Friedan Wrought". Concerned Women for America. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  23. ^ Clarke, Edward H. (1873). Sex and Education. Wildside. pp. 29, 55. ISBN 978-0-8095-0170-0. 
  24. ^ Landon Storrs, “Attacking the Washington ‘Femmocracy’:AntiFeminism in the Cold War Campaign Against ‘Communists in Government’” Feminist Studies 33, (Spring, 2007)
  25. ^ Young, Katherine K.; Nathanson, Paul (2006). Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systematic Discrimination Against Men. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. pp. 59–61. ISBN 0-7735-2862-8. 
  26. ^ Conway, John Frederick (2003). The Canadian Family in crisis. James Lorimer and Company. pp. 163–64. ISBN 978-1-55028-798-1. 
  27. ^ Fitzpatrick, Meagan (December 6, 2006). "National day of remembrance pays tribute to victims of Montreal massacre". CanWest News Service. Retrieved December 27, 2006. 
  28. ^ Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong (1999). "Unbearable Witness: towards a Politics of Listening". Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 11 (1): 112–149. 
  29. ^ Malarek, Victor (December 12, 1989). "More Massacre Details to be Released by Police, but an Inquiry Ruled Out". Globe and Mail (Canada). p. A14. 
  30. ^ Canadian Press (January 12, 1990). "Police scour the life of mass killer". Edmonton Journal. p. B9. 
  31. ^ Poirier, Patricia (March 1, 1990). "Police can't find cause for Lepine's rampage on Montreal campus". Globe and Mail (Canada). p. A17. 
  33. ^ Young, Cathy (July 24, 2014). "Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right". Time. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  34. ^ Eun Kyung Kim (2014-01-08). "Is feminism still relevant? Some women saying they don't need it - News". Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  35. ^ Cathy Young. "Daughters of Feminism strike back". Newsday. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  36. ^ Sarah Boesveld. "Not all feminists: How modern feminism has become complicated, messy and sometimes alienating | National Post". Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  37. ^ Durgin, Celina (2014-07-28). "Anti-Feminists Baffle Feminists | National Review Online". Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  38. ^ a b Hardy, Elle; Lehmann, Claire; Jha, Trisha; Matthewson, Paula. "Am I a feminist? Four women reply (and they're not from the left)". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  39. ^ Dries, Kate. "The Many Misguided Reasons Famous Ladies Say 'I'm Not a Feminist'". Jezebel. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  40. ^ Taylor, Lenore. "‘Feminism is not an extreme term,’ says Penny Wong". Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  41. ^ "#WomenAgainstFeminism goes viral as people explain why they don't need feminism anymore". Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  42. ^ Steinmetz, Katy, "Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015?", Time, 12 November 2014
  43. ^ Rabouin, Dion, "Time Magazine Apologizes For Including 'Feminist' In 2015 Word Banishment Poll", International Business Times, 15 November 2014
  44. ^ a b Tierney, Helen (1999). Women's Studies Encyclopedia. Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated. p. 95. 
  45. ^ 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
  46. ^ Rohit K. Dasgupta; K. Moti Gokulsing (2013). Masculinity and Its Challenges in India: Essays on Changing Perceptions. McFarland. p. 65. 

External links[edit]