Minding the gap between feminist identity and attitudes: the behavioral and ideological divide between feminists and non-labelersedit
Sexism persists in the contemporary United States and has deleterious effects on women and girls. This suggests that feminism–as a movement, a set of attitudes, or an explicit identity–is still warranted. Although feminist attitudes may buffer against the effects of sexism, notably in health domains, we suggest that there may be an ideological divide between those who hold such attitudes while rejecting the identity (non-labelers) and self-identified feminists. Non-labelers engage in less collective action on behalf of women’s rights. On the basis of survey responses of 276 college students, non-labelers appear to be self-interested. We argue that disentangling attitudes from identity is crucial for sharpening predictions about the relation of feminism to other psychological and behavioral variables, and for engaging in broader social change. Furthermore, understanding whether non-labelers’ rejection of feminist identity is rooted in fear of stigma associated with the label, neoliberal beliefs, or other explanations is important to those organizing for reform.