Get access

DISAVOWING SOCIAL IDENTITIES: WHAT IT MEANS WHEN WOMEN SAY, “I'M NOT A FEMINIST, BUT …”

Authors


  • The present study was based in part on the author's doctoral dissertation at the University of Michigan under the guidance of Abigail J. Stewart, Patricia Gurin, Lorraine M. Gutierrez, and Karin A. Martin. Many thanks to Abigail J. Stewart, Joan M. Ostrove, Irving Zucker, Elizabeth R. Cole, and Eileen L. Zurbriggen for helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Alyssa N. Zucker, Women's Studies Program, The George Washington University, 837 22nd St. NW, Washington, DC 20052. E-mail: azucker@gwu.edu

Abstract

Many women, even as they embrace feminist principles, are loath to be labeled feminists. This study presents a measure of feminist identity that accounts for beliefs and behaviors of self-identified feminists and nonfeminists, and for a third group, egalitarians, who endorse liberal feminist beliefs but reject the feminist label. In a sample of 272 college-educated women, a MANOVA showed egalitarians had levels of feminist consciousness between nonfeminists and feminists. Egalitarians did not differ from nonfeminists on favorable conditions for feminist identity or on feminist activism, but both groups scored lower on these measures than feminists. In a hierarchical multiple regression, feminist identity was a significant predictor of feminist activism, above and beyond favorable conditions and barriers. The importance of self-labeling for invisible and stigmatized social identities is discussed.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary