More young males than old think feminism caused more harm than good

More Gen Z men than Baby Boomers believe feminism has caused more harm than good

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Young men in the UK are more likely than older generations to believe feminism has caused more harm than good, according to new research that warns of an attitudinal gender divide within Gen Z.

Research from Ipsos, King’s College London’s Policy Institute and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership surveyed more than 3,600 men and women from different generations on their views on masculinity and women’s equality.

Director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London Professor Bobby Duffy said the research shows a gender divide among Generation Z, those born between 1997-2012, on feminist issues and concepts.

“This is a new and unusual generational pattern,” Professor Duffy said. “Normally, it tends to be the case that younger generations are consistently more comfortable with emerging social norms, as they grew up with these as a natural part of their lives.”

However, the research found one in four males in the UK aged 16-29 believe it is harder to be a man than a woman.

Around 16 per cent of Gen Z men feel feminism has done more harm than good, compared to 13 per cent of males in the Baby Boomer generation, aged over 60.

Social media influencer Andrew Tate is viewed favourably by one fifth of the Gen Z men surveyed in the research, and more than a third (37 per cent) of Gen Z men consider the phrase “toxic masculinity” unhelpful.

Although they remain in the minority view, it is a larger proportion of Gen Z men that hold those views compared to Gen Z women, where the vast majority believe it is harder to be a woman than a man in the UK.

Professor Duffy said this points a gendered “fractious division” within Gen Z and explained that both points of view should be listened to carefully.

“That includes much more work on understanding the challenges facing young men today, or we risk that void being filled by celebrities and influencers, and this nascent divide being exacerbated,” Professor Duffy said.

Professor Rosie Campbell, director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, said the research shows a polarisation placing “women to the left of men”, as it’s women who find “toxic masculinity” a helpful term, yet are more pessimistic about future progress on gender equality.

“We’re just at the beginning of understanding what’s driving this but the fact that this group is the first to derive most of their information from social media is likely to be at least part of the explanation,” Professor Rosie Campbell.

Head of Political Research at Ipsos UK Gideon Skinner said it’s important to remember that only a minority of Gen Z males hold negative views of feminism and positive views of Andrew Tate.

“Both young (and more middle-aged) women are most likely to feel that despite the advances of feminism, women’s lives will still remain harder than men’s over the next few decades, and that gender equality has further to go,” Skinner said. 

“But younger men, on the other hand, are more worried that life will be harder for them, and are more uncertain over male gender roles.

“As we have seen in the rest of our research about culture wars, it is important not to exaggerate the divides – it is still only a minority of young men who think equal opportunities have gone too far.”

However, Skinner still urged for action to ensure the “gender split among younger generations” doesn’t grow any bigger than it already is.

“The lessons are that polarisation can increase if we don’t take steps to understand these divisions and do more to improve the prospects for young people’s lives,” Skinner said.


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