Not all nonlabelers are created equal: Distinguishing between quasi-feminists and neoliberals


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Past research regarding feminist identity has revealed that a significant number of women endorse feminist attitudes yet reject a feminist identity. In the current study, we sought to examine whether these nonlabeling women fall into two distinct groups: (a) one that falls on the same ideological continuum of their feminist peers and (b) the other that represents an attitudinally unique group of women characterized by their neoliberal beliefs that prioritize individual merit as the sole determinant of success. Two samples of undergraduate women self-reported their feminist identity and political and sexist attitudes. In our first sample (N = 231), we used k-means cluster analysis to identify two types of nonlabelers: quasi-feminists and neoliberals. Results revealed that, despite both groups’ shared belief in gender equality, quasi-feminists reported relatively lower levels of meritocratic, just world, and modern sexist beliefs, all of which were similar to those of their feminist-identified peers, whereas neoliberals indicated stronger meritocratic, just world, and modern sexist beliefs. In our second sample (N = 351), we replicated findings from our first sample and subsequently validated these groupings. Specifically, multivariate analysis of variance results demonstrated that, separate from the differences found in relation to the measures used for cluster analysis, quasi-feminists scored lower than neoliberals on measures of ambivalent sexism, social dominance, and equal opportunity beliefs. Women’s individual and collective welfare often hinges on their endorsement of neoliberal and feminist beliefs, especially in the face of unfair treatment. We suggest that activists and policy makers tailor strategies for engaging nonlabelers in the movement toward gender equality to the subtype of nonlabeler in question.

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