Who Likes Women's Liberation—and Why: The Case of the Unliberated Liberals


  • Carol Tavris

    Corresponding author
    1. Psychology Today
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      I owe many thanks to Elizabeth Hall and T George Harris of Psychology Today for the opportunity to do this survey, for their excellent editing of the questionnaire, and for their moral and financial support. I am also indebted to Toby Epstein Jayaratne for her research assistance, and to Elizabeth Douvan, Robert Kahn, Judith Bardwick, and Zelda Gamson of the University of Michigan for their expert advice.

Psychology Today, Del Mar, California 92014.


This survey explored a variety of background factors that are related to a person's support of or opposition to the women's liberation movement (WLM), including religion and political preference, perception of sex differences in personality (usually called “stereotyping”) and belief as to whether these are due to biology or culture, and style of marriage (traditional or egalitarian). Also for men, a dimension of sexual threat was related to hostility toward the WLM; for women, experiences with discrimination and to a lesser extent “sexism” contributed to their support of the WLM. The survey found that only a small proportion of men are truly threatened by the movement, but only a small proportion are truly in favor of it; most are caught in the easy middle ground, where attitudes are liberal and behavior is traditional.