For a lot of people, the word "feminist" can stir up some really strong feelings, and the topic of feminism can feel like a hot-button issue in the media. So what does it mean to be a "hidden feminist"? For those who support a lot of feminist values, but don't personally identify as feminists, the term "hidden feminist" may feel relatable. Judging from the data released by the Fawcett Society — a leading charity centered on gender equality and women's rights in the U.K. — two-thirds of people in the U.K. identify with feminist values, yet only 7 percent openly identify as feminists. Hence, the term "hidden feminist."
Where did these numbers come from? The Fawcett Society surveyed 8,000 adults, both men and women, for their Sex Equality: State of the Nation 2016 report by asking them the first word that came to mind when they heard "feminist"; additionally, participants were asked about their perspectives on issues rooted in feminism, such as equal opportunity in employment. In spite of the fact that so few people actually identified as feminists in the survey, the responses overwhelmingly correlated with feminist values and ideologies. There is a lot of stigma around feminism, to the point where people come "out" as feminists; as such, people can be weary of using the feminist identity as a way to describe their beliefs. This is basically where the term "hidden feminists" comes to play.
Think you might be a "hidden feminist"? If you don't necessarily identify as a feminist, but this list resonates with you, you may fit the bill:
1. You Believe Women And Men Deserve Equal Opportunities
An incredible 83 percent of people polled believe women and men deserve equal opportunities. Pretty much all branches of feminism agree that equal opportunity for men and women is a key topic in the discourse. If so many people agree on the basic principle of feminism, why do so few of them identify with the label? There's a lot of misinformation about the basics of feminism out there, namely that feminism's goal is to advance women over men, which is simply not the case.
2. You Believe Equal Society Between Men And Women Would Help The Economy
Nearly three-quarters of people surveyed agreed that a more equal society between men and women would benefit the economy. Breaking down the survey data a bit more tells us that seven out of 10 men agree with this sentiment, and the majority of people who make recruitment (hiring) decisions agree that equality is good for the economy. Only 7 percent of men polled believe the economy would suffer if men and women had a more equal society, which is slightly more than the 5 percent of women who also feel the economy would suffer if they had equality.
3. You Believe Women Deserve Equal Room At The Top
A majority of people polled agreed that men would not make room for women in top leadership positions unless they had to. What does this have to do with feminism? As it stands, gender bias in hiring is still a huge problem, and beyond that, men are still favored over women when it comes to promotions and advancements in the workplace. There are a lot of theories about why men don't see women as leaders as a general rule of thumb, but the real goal to focus on is how to advance women to even out the gender imbalance.
Supporting equal rights for both men and women (as well as people who don't identify with the gender binary, for that matter) is the starting point for identifying with feminism. Feminism, as a movement, has gone through a lot of changes over the years, and is continuing to become more intersectional and inclusive, which is a very good thing. Hopefully as people learn more about feminism and the stigma surrounding feminism lessens, more people will be open to exploring their identifies with the feminist label, whatever it means to them.