Good news! A new study recently released shows that feminism is not dying, but instead is growing! Since 2008, the number of women who identify as feminists has increased by 9 points. A full 55% of female voters call themselves feminists. Now you might think that only a specific group of women identify as feminist, but that’s not true. 58% of women under 30 and 54% of women over 30 identify as feminists. 72% of Democratic women and even 38% of Republican women identify as feminists. Feminism is not just a fad or the interest of one group, but instead an issue every group finds important. And yes, I do mean every group–one in three men identifies as a feminist too!
Even more important, I think, is that there are more women of color who identify as feminist than white women. The world of media outside of the feminist sphere seems to assume that feminists are all white women. Large, mainstream feminist organizations are often led by white women, and those are the people most often asked to speak for the feminist movement. But beyond the mainstream groups is a large number of grassroots, feminist organizations run by and for women of color. Organizations such as SisterSong, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Black Women’s Health Imperative and SPARAK RJ NOW all involve women of color working on feminist ideals within their communities. It is my hope that this information will be used by the large organizations such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the Feminist Majority Foundation to create new hiring practices and new ways of listening. The groups most often asked to speak for our movement should be asking the reporters to speak with women from these other organizations, or finding new ways to connect with these grassroots activists. Hopefully this study wont just focus on how many people call themselves feminists, but who, why, and what they’re doing about it.
Of course, some people might wonder if people who label as feminist actually vote for feminist values. There have been a number of anti-abortion groups and other groups fighting against women’s rights that are trying to take up the feminist label. The study found that 64% of feminist-identified women voted for President Obama in the last election, as did 54% of feminist identified men. There could be more who voted third party as well. So yes, there is a strong correlation between the label feminist and voting for candidates who support women’s rights. There is power in having such a large, diversified group of people under one label. There are so many opportunities beyond electing a President- if we all stay in contact with our local Congresspeople, we can get so much more done.