To Be or Not To Be a Feminist: A Qualitative Study

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Virginia Tech

This research examined definitions of feminists and the relationship between self-identification as a feminist and willingness to engage in action to reduce inequality between men and women. Two focus groups were held to discuss these issues with undergraduate women. All but one of the members self-identified as feminists. Group members aligned themselves with one of two definitions of feminist. Some women defined feminists as those who desire equality for women. This group distanced themselves from radical feminists. The other women asserted that feminists were concerned with human rights for both men and women. The women emphasized that men as well as women could be feminists. Consistent with social identity theory that posits that important identities are associated with action, the women participated in two types of activities that were related to reducing gender inequality. One type of action was individualist, such as responding to sexist remarks. The other type was involvement with groups and organizations that collectively worked to reduce inequality. The one group member who rejected the label of feminist held views and engaged in behavior consistent with a cultural definition of feminist.

Feminist Activism, Feminist Identity, Feminism, Feminist