This is exactly what feminism means to YOU (and it might just surprise you)

GLAMOUR’s big activism survey results are in and, naturally, one of the causes closest to our hearts is feminism. But what does feminism actually mean to each of you? In celebration of our #EveryDayIsWomansDay digital issue starring Gemma Chan, we’ve broken it down for you.

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to girl power, and your varying results on issues – from equal pay to #metoo – prove it. With surprising reactions and – fascinatingly – huge jumps in perspective between the generations; our survey shows we have a lot to learn about how feminism has evolved, and about what still needs fixing in today’s society.

First things first: are you a feminist? I know, a no-brainer, right?


Intriguingly, only 69% of GLAMOUR readers would call themselves one. This number goes up to 82% when we look just at Gen Z readers, but dips to 62% for Gen X. When we flip the question, only 3% of Gen Z would NOT consider themselves a feminist, but a surprisingly high 24% of Gen Xers would happily not label themselves one.

It perhaps all comes down to the rehabilitation of feminism over the years; from a dirty word to a woke essential. Precious few of Gen Z would think that they were not a feminist – labelling yourself one has become almost mandatory in our highly politically aware times – but this was not always the case. Feminism fell out of favour in the ‘ladette’ era of the 90s (the height of Gen X’s party days) and our perception of what a feminist was or, more pertinently, looked like, was somewhat derogatory. Ugly, boring, usually hairy. How wrong we were.

Yet, perhaps the discomfort many women feel with the label still persists, and it could come down to a lack of understanding. Feminism has gone through various iterations over the years, from bra-burning to intersectionality.

Bryony Walker, who works for feminist organisation Level Up, thinks the evolution of feminism is great; even if it means a different thing to each of us.

“I believe disagreement is healthy, it’s where learning comes from,” she says, “What I love is that what the word means is up for grabs, it’s not a static thing.”

With so much fluctuation, it is little wonder that a not-insignificant 12% of you are not sure if you’re a feminist or not. The results show there is still some way to go before ‘We Should All be Feminists’ is more than just a Dior tee slogan.

Though, there was broad agreement on major issues, such as equality between men and women; which 83% of you agreed with and which caused little stir among the generations, and freeing women from judgement, which 42% of Glamour readers agreed was a fundamental part of feminism, there were big differences on some topics.

Women having power means more to Gen X’s idea of feminism (33% agreed) than to just 9% of Gen Z and the idea of ‘having it all’ may have been significant to 11% of Gen X but it found literally 0% of traction with Gen Z.

This shows that what we want from feminism has changed. Our outlooks on certain issues have shifted over time. Millennials and Gen Z are famously unhappy with the status quo – we are the ‘disruptor’ generations, but our priorities are different from those of our mothers’ generation. Other things have replaced grabbing power and that fabled ‘having it all’ battle- such as inclusivity and intersectionality: both a major focus of young feminism.

This opening up of feminism, a preoccupation of the younger generations, is good for society as a whole. Feminist historian Rosalind Miles observes: “That’s because feminism is not a selfish endeavour – it is good for everybody. Equality is good for everyone. Feminism is making sure everybody has choices.”

So what about that big hot-button issue: #metoo? Interestingly, the movement has only emboldened 24% of you to feel as though you can speak up. The survey shows that 41% of you actually feel it has not empowered you at all – and that reaches a high of 51% of Gen X readers.

Yet these stats are in spite of the fact that 67% of GLAMOUR readers say they have been a victim of everyday sexism and a whopping 73% of you say you have experienced sexism in the workplace, 57% of you in the street and 61% of you in clubs.

These results are eerily symptomatic of the world we live in, where a culture of silence still persists among women, where so many of you still feel you cannot speak up, even in a society where the vast majority of you face sexism every day.

So, though it may mean something different to each and every one of you- even those of you who reject the term completely- our survey shows that feminism is still a sorely contested, but sorely needed ideology in today’s society.


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