Why the Word ‘Feminism’ Makes Young People Nervous

· April 17, 2019
"The word 'feminism' makes young people nervous, and they don't see the need for vindication, they think it's an element of radicalism typical of past generations". 

The word ‘feminism’ makes young people nervous. Conditions of gender inequality are still very common. And, even though there’s been a great generational change, many young people continue to associate the word feminism with radicalism.

Some facts make us wonder whether this younger generation will really be the source of greater equality. Will the next generations overcome problems such as the patriarchy and machismo? The answer, sadly, is not clear. Young people, although more mobilized than previous generations, are not always aware of all the forces that have an influence on the society they live in.

Are the new generations adopting feminism?

On average, new generations tend to copy, in part, what they learn from older generations. Although it’s evident that a part of society is more aware of gender issues, the rest (a good majority) is not. Since there are few people setting an example for these changes within their circles, society, and institutions, they are set to repeat old patterns from previous generations.

'feminism' makes young people nervous

Young people need role models that enrich their understanding and set examples of feminism. Therefore, their duty to the people who’ve fought for equality and will continue to do. The goal is to create an environment where this may be possible.

According to the sociologist Maria Silvestre, younger generations are not regressing, rather they are at a standstill with what they already have. So, the problem lies in opportunities and resources. Currently, young people have more opportunities and resources compared to other generations.

For example, education opportunities are greater than ever. Literacy is practically the norm in our society. Likewise, the number of people with university degrees is at the highest point in history.

However, this widespread level of education can lead them to perceive a level of equality that’s not really there. Thus, it could extinguish their critical spirit in situations of inequality or discrimination.

Why the word ‘feminism’ makes young people nervous

Although we’ve come a long way in the past fifty years, the critical awareness of inequality remains stagnant. Women can now have more professional and educational opportunities. In fact, they can perform jobs that were previously unthinkable and therefore have a greater purchasing power. Even so, the most pressing issues of the youth don’t include inequality.

“The word ‘feminism’ makes young people nervous, and they don’t see the need for vindication, they think it’s an element of radicalism typical of past generations”. 

-Maria Silvestre

This phenomenon affects both men and women, although, obviously, it’s more widespread in men.

a man and a woman equally balanced

Is there equality on the internet?

The relationship between young people and the internet may seem like a perfect space for equality. But that’s not the case, unfortunately. Gender inequality also seems to be prevalent on the internet.

Despite being a more open and freer space, the internet has become another space for inequality. The content that young people share and consume on the internet are mostly sexist and replicate traditional gender roles.

While young men use the internet mostly for playing, focused on games like poker, younger women use it to interact. In other words, young men use the internet to play around and young women use it for socializing.

As you can see,  even while using the internet, the old gender roles are maintained. Even though access to social networks is equal, their use continues to be different based on gender.

And it doesn’t end there. Cyberbullying and sexual harassment are also present in the virtual world. What we see in society also transfers over to the internet. Instead of creating change, the internet echoes many of the macho values in our society.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, we can see that society has a very important role. There are many socialization agents, such as family, school, media, advertising, novels, theater, videogames, and more. All of them influence our culture. However, as usual, they continue to promote gender roles.

Therefore, we cannot wait and hope that the younger generations get rid of gender roles; it’s a monumental task. Instead, we should try to influence the socialization agents so that they create and enrich the number of feminist role models that young people could imitate.

Editor’s note: The generalizations that are present in this article correspond to studies that work with averages. Therefore, we can be sure that there are many young people who are far from following the trend present in this article.