Millennial Women Identify as Feminists and Act Like it Too

The media loves to paint Millennials as lazy, entitled, self-obsessed and generally a disappointment to society. Millennial women, in particular, are viewed as selfie-loving, vain consumers of all things unicorn and their ties to feminism last only as long as a “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt stays trendy.

These stereotypes, though, underestimate Millennial women in a lot of ways, including their commitment to feminism and social justice. Plus, they don’t necessarily align with current research. Alison Dahl Crossley surveyed 1,400 undergraduate students for her new book, Finding Feminism: Millennial Activists and the Unfinished Gender Revolution.

The students attended three colleges across the country and were male and female, cis and trans, black, white, Latino and Asian. Crossley also interviewed 25 students at each campus for more in-depth information.

She found that young women had a strong commitment to feminism and have a “richer, more nuanced understanding of feminism than is popularly suggested in the media.”

Among the students, 33.5% of women identified as feminist as did 11.1% of men, with little difference between races. LGBTQ students were more likely to identify as feminist than their straight, cis peers.

Those numbers still seem low when you consider that feminism is a belief in gender equality. But to put it in perspective, Millennials are more likely to identify as feminist than as Evangelical Protestants or Catholics.

Women of color, while they identified as feminist as often as white women, were more likely to modify their feminist identity with additional descriptors like “Chicana feminist.” Perhaps white women didn’t feel the need to modify their feminist label because feminism has always included white women, historically at the expense of women of color.

Some students described feminism as something that was “always with them,” like a guiding set of principles. The majority of students surveyed said they had witnessed gender equality in society even if they didn’t believe it had ever directly affected them. Many of the students understood feminism to be intersectional, and that’s why they accepted it.

“I think our generation is actually embracing this more. Women of color are embracing it more as it becomes more inclusive,” said one of the students interviewed. “It’s talking about intersections. I don’t think any other framework is talking about intersections. I think that’s why feminism is going to be successful. That’s what our generation is going to add to it, you know, it’s not about women, it’s about gender, and class and race, and nationality and ability. So many identities.”

Millennials included race, class and sexuality in their descriptions of feminism regardless of their race, class or sexuality, which is a good sign for feminism and the people it benefits (i.e. everyone).

While the concept of feminism may have become commodified in recent years, that doesn’t mean Millennial women have sold out.

Photo Credit: Clarke Sanders

69 comments

Paulo R
Paulo R9 days ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R9 days ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R9 days ago

ty

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heather g
heather g22 days ago

There's no equality yet

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Ellie M
Ellie M29 days ago

ty

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Nicole H

Feminism : total equality between women and men. I only read women should be paid the same loan, women have freedom to be "boss" of their own bodies, etc.. I never see anyone writing about equality in the family. When we have the same loan for the same job - AS IT SHOULD BE OF COURSE - would that change the fact that men come home, take the newspaper, sit in the sofa, and women take care of the children, making / supervising their lessons & homework and then start making dinner. Once everybody has eaten well, mom is doing the clean up of the kitchen, gives the little ones a bath, put them in bed, and then, sort out the laundry and start ironing.... IS THAT FEMINISM ????? NO ! I have never been a very active feminist. But, at home : tasks were divided !! When I did the cooking, my husband took care of the children !! When I did the ironing, my husband did the cleaning !! And when I needed an afternoon of rest, then my husband took our children to the playground, or later to sport events, or theater or bios... and I got my 3 or 4 hours for myself. If there were issues to be discussed about the children, or the housekeeping : we did that in the eve, when kids were in bed. Being equal in sharing and discussing everything : THIS IS FEMINISM !!

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Karen H
Karen Habout a month ago

Truth T, I disagree. The "feminists" you may know are far different from the feminists I know. We don't feel entitled, we don't openly sexually harass men, or any of the other things you list in your comments. Those are not "feminists" - they are abusive women just like there are abusive men. We don't expect the world to cater to us simply because of our gender. We do expect to be treated with respect and not like second-class citizens, which we see every day. Think of Trump during the debates. He constantly interrupted Hillary and talked over her. Other male politicians do the same. Why can't we have opinions? Why can't we state our case without interruption or "mansplaining"? If you wouldn't do it to a man, then don't do it to a woman.

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Truth T
Past Member about a month ago

The problem is, so-called "feminism" is not "a belief in gender equality" but is instead an arrogant exercise in arrogant entitlement and self-aggrandizement--ME-ME-ME to the highest degree. These 'feminists" don't want true equality--they want the world to cater to them just because they're biologically female, whole they demand the right to do anything they want without repercussion or censure--and this includes plundering men's wallets, misandry of the highest order (including open sexual harassment against men), and even physical abuse against men. This isn't feminism--it's sexism.

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Sheila M
Sheila Mabout a month ago

sorry - feminism has ALWAYS included ALL women - P E R I O D

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Janis K
Janis Kabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

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