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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Explaining the feminist paradox

Here is a new study, from Sweden:
The feminist movement purports to improve conditions for women, and yet only a minority of women in modern societies self-identify as feminists. This is known as the feminist paradox. It has been suggested that feminists exhibit both physiological and psychological characteristics associated with heightened masculinization, which may predispose women for heightened competitiveness, sex-atypical behaviors, and belief in the interchangeability of sex roles. If feminist activists, i.e., those that manufacture the public image of feminism, are indeed masculinized relative to women in general, this might explain why the views and preferences of these two groups are at variance with each other. We measured the 2D:4D digit ratios (collected from both hands) and a personality trait known as dominance (measured with the Directiveness scale) in a sample of women attending a feminist conference. The sample exhibited significantly more masculine 2D:4D and higher dominance ratings than comparison samples representative of women in general, and these variables were furthermore positively correlated for both hands. The feminist paradox might thus to some extent be explained by biological differences between women in general and the activist women who formulate the feminist agenda. ...

That three-quarters of women are concerned about women’s rights while less than one-third consider themselves feminists is known as the feminist paradox (Abowitz, 2008, p. 51; Scharff, 2012). Part of the explanation for this paradox might result from the fact that there are many different conceptions of what feminism is or ought to be, and that it lacks a commonly established definition. This is not least of all because the underlying ideologies and opinions of the movement have undergone substantive shifts over the course of the 20th century (Scharff, 2012). Today, several different strands of feminism are currently recognized, the most established ones including Womanism and Liberal, Radical, Socialist, and Cultural Feminism (e.g., Henley et al., 2000).

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