Non-feminist 'more hostile' towards men than feminists, study finds

by Jess McCabe // 31 July 2009, 17:26

One of the hoary stereotypes about feminists is that we are 'man-haters'. I suspect that most feminists are more likely to roll their eyes at this sort of thing - I find it hard to take too seriously, although of course these stereotypes don't spring out of no-where, and they're often a type of silencing technique.

(They're also quite interesting in what they can tell us, I think. For example, an explanation for the man-hating myth could be that our culture is so overly focused on men, and male-privilege is so deeply entrenched, that when feminists criticise the status quo it's read as being anti-men rather than addressing the marginalisation and oppression of women.)

Anyway, some researchers at the University of Houston decided to investigate whether it's really true that feminists hate men. They interviewed just under 500 undergraduates, using something called the 'Ambivalence Toward Men Inventory'.

What they found was that feminists reported less hostility towards men than non-feminists. In effect, not only does this suggest the stereotype is not true, it's actually the reverse.

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Melinda Kanner, one of the researchers, has this interesting observation:

Our work finds that, indeed, non-feminists believe in traditional gender roles such as men being breadwinners and women being caregivers. At the same time, these non-feminists actually appear to resent the confines of the traditional roles they advocate, which presents a paradox for women and men in traditional heterosexual relationships.

Obviously, as a feminist, I'd not say it was much of a paradox: in actually, traditional gender roles are limiting and constricting, and whatever way you swing it, women are not better off in a sexist society. Individual women who don't agree with feminism are still in actually subject to the same shit as women who do identify as feminists or with feminist-like beliefs.

The study's take on this:

Traditional women have more investment in traditional gender roles in which they are both dependent on men and frustrated and subordinated by male dominance. Glick et al. (2004) found in their 16-nations study that hostility toward men was higher among women than among men. Also, hostility toward men was correlated with the national measures of gender inequality. Glick et al. (2004) reasoned that women in traditional nations may feel more resentment toward men for what they view as abuses of power, but that this resentment is not necessarily a challenge to gender hierarchy because it coexists with benevolent beliefs about men’s roles as protectors and providers. The more hostile men are toward women, the more women resent men and show hostility toward men. Heightened resentment of men’s hostility and abuses of power may explain why women’s reported hostility toward men was higher than that of men in more traditional cultures.

Comments From You

Jack Leland // Posted 31 July 2009 at 18:21

This is a study of approx. 450 college students. Not generalizable.

AnonyMouse // Posted 31 July 2009 at 19:06

Interesting results. It does go to show that the right-wing cliche of feminists being anti-men is just that. The non-feminists seem to have the worst of both worlds - they are not standing up for their own rights and being more hostile to men!

polly styrene // Posted 31 July 2009 at 19:11

I wonder if anyone will study hostility towards women.......Or is that only to be expected?

LB // Posted 31 July 2009 at 19:47

Polly - you just took the words right out of my mouth.

Lucas Milliken // Posted 31 July 2009 at 21:52

The study mentions that the only people who qualified as feminists were those who correctly defined feminism. What is the current working and widely accepted definition of feminism? I've been calling myself a feminist for a while, but I want to make sure that I'm using the word correctly. Thanks!

Jess McCabe // Posted 31 July 2009 at 22:04

@Lucus Milliken This is the explanation in the study:

Feminist identification. Respondents were also asked to
define feminism. Although there are many kinds of femi-
nism (e.g., liberal, Marxist, eco-), definitions converge on
an emphasis on the desire for equal rights for women (for a
discussion, see, e.g., Leaper & Brown, 2008; Zucker, 2004).
The definition of feminism in the present study included
any reference to equal rights for women, the acknowledge-
ment of inequality between women and men, and the need
for social change on behalf of women. Two independent
raters, using this rather broad definition of feminism, rated
a subsample of respondents’ definitions for consistency with
our operational definition of feminism. We looked for def-
initions that included these explanations as well as terms
such as liberation and equality and their synonyms. Many
of the definitions of feminism that were coded as not consis-
tent with the operational definition of feminism were cases
in which feminism was confused with feminine (e.g., “Fem-
inism is being ladylike.”). A few definitions included sim-
ple statements such as “feminism is disliking men,” which
were coded as inconsistent with the operational definition
of feminism. Responses were included as consistent with
our operational definition of feminism only if they included
some reference to gender equality; a definition was counted
as consistent if it made some statement about disliking men,
as long as it also included a reference to gender equality.
“Feminists are women who dislike men and want to have
the same rights as men have” was an acceptable defini-
tion. A few definitions referred to feminists as women who
want to be superior to men (Feminism is “when women
think they are better than men”), and these definitions
were coded as inconsistent with our operational definition
of feminism. Inter-rater agreement between two coders
on definitions was 94%. Finally, respondents were asked
whether they were feminists and were classified accord-
ing to one of three categories: feminists, nonfeminists, and
those who were unsure as to whether they are feminists.
The survey included other survey questions that are not
part of the present study and concluded with demographic
questions.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 31 July 2009 at 23:50

Commonly those who know nothing at all about feminism always expect a feminist to explain to them 'just what is feminism?' Similarily those who believe men are innately superior to women always demand and expect women to spend their time telling the man/men precisely why and how the myth of male superiority operates. It is called diversionary tactics and the aim is to once again put men central and women on the periphary.

As Polly said when will a study be conducted on how and why women-hating is viewed as normal and/or a trivial issue. Yes I know Polly did not say 'women-hating' - I have because our patriarchal society is embedded with women-hating so much it has become natural and at the same time invisible.

The ancient myth that feminists are men-haters is also another diversionary tactic because if feminists hate men why does feminism demand social change and critique just how our patriarchal and male-dominant system operates. If feminists hate men why do they commonly say men can change but all too often refuse to do so because it would mean a reduction of male power and privileges, as well as their no longer being seen as the centre of the universe and instead would radically alter our society to one wherein women as a group were equally represented as fully human, not adjuncts of misogynstic claims only males are the norm and women are viewed
as abnormal or failed males.

Hatred is a form of powerless because if one believes social change is impossible then the only course of action is to hate the oppressor.

The study was a very detailed one but all too often when studies are undertaken by men the fact such studies are a small sample are not seen as not representative. One only has to see how the media constantly promotes small sample research which supposedly proves women are inferior to men and yet these small samples are widely accepted as 'the truth.' Yet when research is conducted by female researchers their methodology is always subjected to minute scrutiny by male critics. Is it perhaps because research such as this one finds some very unpleasant findings about how non-feminist women actually view men.

Feminism has never been about hating men but because it directly challenges male-defined structures and male power this poses a direct challenge to the patriarchal order and this is why hysterical reactions such as 'feminists are man-haters' abound.

In fact, the reverse is true because our patriarchal society does hate women but not all women - only those women who dare to challenge how our society continues to be constructed from male-defined and male-dominant ideas and perspectives. Women who do not challenge the patriarchal order are commonly held in contempt by our male-dominant society which is why many non-feminist women hate men, because these women believe they cannot as a group imagine our women-hating society changing.

Good point // Posted 01 August 2009 at 03:24

One problem with this study. It was most likely a 'survey.'

Written with pen and paper.

The people answering this survey, likely check off "I'm a feminist."

Then when asked about hostility towards men...

Do you think someone answering the survey would want the two connected?

Considering the size of this study, measures to get non-bias results were likely not taken.

Paul M. Peterson // Posted 01 August 2009 at 04:52

Some questions I have in response to this: 1.) How did they assess hostility? Was it simply a matter of asking the respondents if they were hostile toward men? People, when asked directly about an illicit emotion like hostility are apt to alter their response. This study may, therefore be subject to a self-report fallacy. 2.) Is there a corresponding "hostility toward women" study underway? If not, why not? 3.) Is it unreasonable to suggest that, as women become more free, the expressions they make in the public sphere are apt to appear more and more negative, inasmuch as they are less censored. Is hostility, publicly expressed, a measure of oppression or a measure of freedom?

Ben hill // Posted 01 August 2009 at 11:21

I feel I must re-iterate polly styrene's post. In many cultures, misogyny is a learned behavior. Feminism (to me) is about equality, and most people have not been even introduced to it unfortunately. I would be very interested in the results of a similar study in colleges of foreign countries.

As a side note, an acceptable statistical sampling begins at n=30. They obviously took a 10x acceptable sampling of opinions AT their college. So if one wanted to interpolate this result as the opinions of just Houston University students, then they certainly could. I believe it is indicative of a greater paradigm though.

Louise // Posted 01 August 2009 at 11:33

@Jack Leland:

This is a cross-gender, cross-ethnicity study involving educated individuals in their late teens and early 20s. If you want to claim that these results are not generalisable to other ages and education levels, you need a reason why and you need to test it empirically before you can claim it's true.

It's a tired old trope that testing a sample makes the results ungeneralisable, but it's not necessarily true. (I'm a psychological scientist, by the way - I do this kind of stuff for a living and wouldn't have a job if I couldn't carry out generalisable sampling and statistics).

Ravn // Posted 01 August 2009 at 13:20

Table 2 also indicates that feminists are markedly less benevolent toward men than non-feminists. You don't comment on that at all - am I missing something?

Jess McCabe // Posted 01 August 2009 at 14:08

@Ravn - my understanding is that 'benevolence' in this context is not all that positive a quality, one example given in the study is the belief women should take care of men "within the domestic context and the conventions of traditional gender-role behavior".

Also to answer the question of why not look at hostile attitudes to women, good point. However, when I was looking into this, it looks to me that the methodology that was used in this research was in fact developed some years ago to measure levels of sexism against women.

You can actually take what seems to be a version of this test here.

Wendy // Posted 01 August 2009 at 15:27

It's curious that women who are perceived as man-haters are called feminists...however men who are women-haters (and there are a lot out there) are simply called...men. Interesting, no?

Jack Leland // Posted 01 August 2009 at 19:48

If you want to claim that these results are not generalisable to other ages and education levels, you need a reason why and you need to test it empirically before you can claim it's true.

No, I don't. The study is methodologically flawed. The sample size itself is unreliable; it should be approx. 1500. And, to generalize it to other education levels and age groups, it should include samples of other education levels and age groups.

I don't need to empirically test a methodological criticism. That's crazy.

Alice // Posted 01 August 2009 at 20:11

I think it's pretty obvious that non-feminist women (particularly anti-feminist women) are more hostile towards men than feminists. For example, the belief that men cannot control themselves around women and that women must therefore take responsibility for preventing rape - this is a pretty anti-male idea, and it's certainly not one promoted by feminists.

Ditto for the belief that men's egos are so fragile that women have to treat them as demigods in order to allow them to function.

DanniiX // Posted 01 August 2009 at 23:56

We need way more sociological/ psychological studies like this - sexism is one of the biggest factors seriously frustrating/ hurting today's women. Only science can battle social myths.

Maybe they should use galvanic skin responses for all the women who adhere to submissive roles and appear to want to; and what's really happening.

I hate the fact so much social myth about men being protectors/ providers exists to justify some abusing women.

I also hate the 'not generalizable' quip. Wish I could get 450 college students for my study!

Jesse R // Posted 02 August 2009 at 06:22

Despite my (delighted) reflexive reaction, this really shouldn't be all that surprising - the domination/submission paradigm unavoidably breeds hate; and really feminism... well, radical feminism, seeks to liberate men from their gender roles too, which is certainly a loving thing to want for someone.

Ally // Posted 02 August 2009 at 12:37

Very interesting post. And how did I know it would bring the "knobjective" dudes out?!

lynx // Posted 02 August 2009 at 22:26

Very interesting...... I'm glad to see almost 10% of men self identified as feminists. that's a very good thing imo. I would have liked to see a version of table 2 that didn't lump asians, latinos, black folks, etc all together as "people of color". It'd be interesting to see what the differences are (if any). I'm also curious how 'benevolence' was defined.

Jenn // Posted 03 August 2009 at 03:59

Not really surprising or noteworthy. I'd be much more interested in how much people hate women. See, because hatred towards men obviously doesn't result in institutionalized social repression and exploitation. Hatred towards women, obviously, does.

QuantumInc // Posted 03 August 2009 at 22:12

I saw this on feministing.com and got to look at the original study. They used the "Glick and Fiske Ambivalence towards Men Index" This measured them against both hostile and benevolent attitudes, one example I saw was "Men act like babies when they're sick"

Feminists would likely see these attitudes as merely stereotypes about men, while non-feminists might accept them are actually true, enhancing both scores. However the score for hostility is enhanced MORE than the benevolence score.

Admittedly though, there is an ounce of truth behind the stereotype in question. If a guy acts like a "typical male" being disrespectful, invading your personal space, taking 'no' to mean 'yes', a non-feminist woman might tolerate it, whereas the feminist women would, horrors upon horrors, stand up for herself! Leaving the "typical male" with the impression that feminists hate him an all other men, whereas in reality all women hate that kind of behavior.

Flewellyn // Posted 03 August 2009 at 22:49

No, I don't. The study is methodologically flawed. The sample size itself is unreliable; it should be approx. 1500. And, to generalize it to other education levels and age groups, it should include samples of other education levels and age groups.

I don't need to empirically test a methodological criticism. That's crazy.

You do have to substantiate it in some way, though. Why is a sample size of 450 inherently unreliable? At least as an exploratory study designed to look for avenues of further research, 450 is quite reasonable.

Your point about generalizing to other age groups and education levels, again, needs elaboration. In what context is this a problem, and why? Again, as an exploratory study, such a limitation is not necessarily a problem.

B. Adu // Posted 04 August 2009 at 10:15

Although I think Polly's point is the most telling.

The results of this study accord with my experience.

It's not that women of all kinds don't hate the way things are, it's more that one would expect those women who uphold trad constructs would have a positive view of men.

They do not.

Those men who resent that fact should be asking themselves why, rather than trying to go into denial about it.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 04 August 2009 at 10:35

I read this the other day, which really sums up a lot for me about this whole issue of feminism being portrayed as 'man-hating' when in fact the more 'traditional'/mainstream view of men is way more man-hating in my view:

From http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/aug/03/the-ugly-truth-women-sexism

"The fact is that nothing in The Ugly Truth is new. Most of its messages are taken directly from relationship advice guides for women. The Ugly Truth is He's Just Not That Into You in spirit, if not in title. The message of these guides, paradoxically, is not that women should subordinate themselves to men because men are stronger and smarter. It's that women should subordinate themselves to men because men are very, very stupid and deeply, unbelievably weak.

The average straight man, if dating guides for women are to be believed, is a fragile, delicate flower, ravaged by primitive desires beyond his control, needy to the extent that he requires constant, fawning admiration (but not too much – the idea that a woman is actively pursuing sex or a relationship will scare him, as he is a skittish creature) and absolutely incapable of dealing with any sort of criticism or challenge from the women in his life. .... [snipped]

A woman's natural desires – to talk about her life, to laugh at jokes that are funny, to disagree with people when they're wrong, to have real orgasms – will drive a man away, if not scar him for life. However, the advice goes, you can actually control men (to the extent that you can get them to date you) by pretending to be someone other than who you are – someone who simply delights in doing every single little thing a man wants at all times. Because men are also, fortunately, so stupid that they won't realise you're lying.

It's strange that feminists are called "man-haters", given the fact that so many sexist prescriptions for women rest on the concept of male inferiority."

Bravo.

Paul M. Peterson // Posted 04 August 2009 at 10:54

It's strange that feminists are called "man-haters", given the fact that so many sexist prescriptions for women rest on the concept of male inferiority." Thank you for adding this, Catherine. That completely puts the issue into perspective for me.

Jack Leland // Posted 04 August 2009 at 11:45

"Gallup and other major organizations use sample sizes of between 1,000 and 1,500 because they provide a solid balance of accuracy against the increased economic cost of larger and larger samples."

http://janda.org/c10/Lectures/topic05/GallupFAQ.htm

I could cite academic sources, but using 1,000+ in random samples is SOP for public polling organizations and quantitative political scientists. It's bedrock quantitative methodology.

Kristel // Posted 04 August 2009 at 13:29

Professor Jack Leland, so you could cite academic sources? Awesome. But you kindly don't, because you realise that might cause fluffy little lady brains to explode. Thank you.

And "bedrock quantatitive methodology". Oh wow.

Where would we be without learned menz like you to put us straight!

philosoraptor // Posted 04 August 2009 at 17:10

Hello -- would you please provide some link(s) to the study and/or to the researchers' web pages?

Flewellyn // Posted 04 August 2009 at 18:53

"Gallup and other major organizations use sample sizes of between 1,000 and 1,500 because they provide a solid balance of accuracy against the increased economic cost of larger and larger samples."

http://janda.org/c10/Lectures/topic05/GallupFAQ.htm

I could cite academic sources, but using 1,000+ in random samples is SOP for public polling organizations and quantitative political scientists. It's bedrock quantitative methodology.

Yes, because sample sizes of 1000+ are necessary for national public polling, because of the size of the US population. For an exploratory study, it's appropriate to initially start with a smaller size.

They can then repeat the study with larger sample sizes later on, in order to refine the statistics.

I haven't read the study myself, but I'd be interested to see what the correlation and significance values were for the measurements.

Jack Leland // Posted 04 August 2009 at 19:47

Kristel,

Gallup and other major polling organizations use 1k to 15.k for precisely the reasons I stated, because the accuracy is higher (95% confidence).

Yes, I could cite to a text on sampling theory with a chart that puts 1500 as the gold standard, but the link I already provided says the same thing. The only difference would be citing an academic text just to cite an academic text. (By the way, I have a political science degree, have conducted and commissioned randomly sampled polls, and am qualified to teach political science at the college level). The academic text I would have to locate is the one from my quantitative methodology/research methods class that I have packed away because I am in the middle of moving. Thanks for the snark!

But, here: http://www.saramitchell.org/wwch8b.ppt.

Julian // Posted 04 August 2009 at 21:12

Jack, it's worth reiterating what Flewellyn said.

'You do have to substantiate it in some way, though. Why is a sample size of 450 inherently unreliable? At least as an exploratory study designed to look for avenues of further research, 450 is quite reasonable.'

450 is reasonable for creating some initial conclusions to develop further upon with further studies. Whilst as it goes larger samples yield fairer results, undermining the results simply because they do not align themselves to methods used by, as you mention, polling organizations and quantitative political scientists, isn't good enough. These aren't public polling organisations or quantitative political scientists, this is a small scale University study which should be taken as it is.

Take it on it's own merit, and 450 is enough for that merit as mentioned.

Tamasine // Posted 05 August 2009 at 10:56

Thanks for posting that, it was interesting to read, as well as their definitions of feminism. I guess, that to some extent, feminists are also less likely to 'hate' men because having a grasp for the need for equality between men/women also recognises the need for equality between other dimensions of diversity eg. race/age/disability/class and to 'hate' all men would assume them as one stereotype, and this is something which is actively challenged.

Jess McCabe // Posted 05 August 2009 at 11:28

@philosoraptor It's not online as far as I know.

Jack Leland // Posted 05 August 2009 at 14:17

450 is reasonable for creating some initial conclusions to develop further upon with further studies.

No offense, but so is watching t.v.. I watched t.v., and I saw something on there, so that's a basis for initial conclusions to develop further upon with further studies. Your defense of the study is materially equivalent to my criticism of it.

undermining the results simply because they do not align themselves to methods used by, as you mention, polling organizations and quantitative political scientists

Those standards are not specialized standards, as you suggest, they are basic methodological standards. If the study fails to meet even basic, minimal standards of methodological validity, it is not a worthwhile study -- we could hypothesize something just as valid (or watch t.v. for ideas just as likely and accurate).

GeeOho // Posted 07 August 2009 at 01:11

Aside from the small sample size ... in today westernised world where information is so available ... it seems like most women identify or relate to feminism in some way ... of course I use the word 'most' loosely.

Yohan // Posted 15 August 2009 at 06:12

OK, so we know it now. Feminist-minded women are less, non-feminist-minded women are more hostile against men.
I wonder, why women are hostile to men in the first place. Out of what reason? And if women are so hostile, why then do they want to get married to men at all?

Seda // Posted 18 August 2009 at 07:46

This is a study to confirm the obvious; the conclusion is one of those "duh" moments. Of course feminists think better of men. By standing firm on the principle that women and men are equal, we (feminist women) have put ourselves in a position of equality with men. As equals, rather than subordinates, we engage fully in equal responsibility, accountability, and fairness. The natural outcome is mutual respect, and a sense of empowerment, or power-with. In subordinate, or power-over/under roles, that mutual respect can never fully develop. If it does, the subordinate/dominant relationship collapses.

And BTW, you guys rock!

Mike // Posted 26 August 2009 at 19:32

@AnonyMouse:
It's not the non-feminists who get the worst of both worlds, but particularly the nonfeminist women. Convenient, eh?

anna // Posted 27 August 2009 at 19:20

eally interesting article (and comments). I am searching around for ideas for a research thesis topic, hoping to focus on a topic around feminism and possibly relationships. Sounds like some people have some ideas? Please let me know

Anonymous // Posted 31 August 2009 at 00:59

Could you give the full citation for the study?

Jess McCabe // Posted 31 August 2009 at 21:37

@Anonymous sure

Kath // Posted 01 September 2009 at 01:20

Courtesy of google and the fact that other bloggers did put a reference into their discussions..

toomanynouns // Posted 21 September 2009 at 04:02

There have been some studies into attitudes towards women. A common finding is the "women are wonderful" effect. Both men and women tend to like women more than men. However, this is usually qualified by the liked women only being those who fit tradtionally feminine roles.
http://books.google.ca/books?id=AaMsbSpcdAAC&pg=PA112&lpg=PA112&dq=women+are+wonderful+prejudice&source=bl&ots=GAPFaBwtvj&sig=3cpxiw-bdc93UcWtzaxJ20lxZak&hl=en&ei=Ley2SomlO43CML-M5doO&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=women%20are%20wonderful%20prejudice&f=false

bella union // Posted 03 October 2009 at 06:30

http://www.understandingprejudice.org/asi/

here's a test that deals with attitudes towards women, and once you've taken it, there are statistics on averages for other countries.

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