WOMEN

When It Comes To Feminism And Reproductive Rights, Survey Says Labels Don't Work

04/10/2015 05:58 pm ET
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New research from Vox revealed that while a very small percentage of Americans identify as feminists, the majority still believe in gender equality.

The survey included 1,067 participants from across the U.S. and covered topics including gender equality, LGBT issues and abortion. Twenty-one percent of participants were between 18 and 29 years old, 25 percent were between 30 and 44 years old, 27 percent were between 45 and 59 years old and 27 percent were over 60 years old. About half the participants identified as female and half as male.

Vox found that only 18 percent of Americans consider themselves feminists. Fifty-two percent of survey participants said that they didn't consider themselves feminists, 26 percent were "unsure" and 4 percent refused to answer the question.

With so few people identifying as feminists, you'd think most Americans wouldn't support gender equality. Wrong. Vox found that a whopping 85 percent of participants responded that they do "believe in equality for women." And 76 percent of participants believe there is still work to be done when it comes to "equality for women in work, life and politics."

While the majority of Americans don't choose to identify as feminists, they support the ideals of feminism. In the great words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "Feminism is the social, political and economic equality of the sexes." It's really that simple.

The survey found that Americans are equally as confused about where they stand on abortion as feminism. When asked about abortion, only 28 percent of participants agreed with the statement: "Abortion should be legal in almost all cases."

However, when the survey question incorporated women, the results changed. When people were asked if "women should have a legal right to safe and accessible abortion in almost all cases," 37 percent said yes.

"That's a jump of nine percentage points in who thinks abortion ought to be generally legal, just by highlighting the fact that a woman is involved in the situation," Vox's Sarah Kliff wrote.

These results indicate just how complicated Americans' feelings about reproductive rights are. "The public has diverse views on abortion. But it's rarely a split between 'abortion is right' and 'abortion is wrong,'" Kliff wrote. "Instead, there is a nuance that the public conversation typically misses: a factoring in of personal circumstances and beliefs that manifest themselves in deeply held individual views."

While many people shy away from labels when it comes to women's issues, it seems that most agree with the idea behind them: Women should have the same social, political and economic rights as men.

Head over to Vox to read the rest of the research.

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