Bad Feminists? Perceived Self-Discrepancy Predicts Differences in Gender Equality Activism

Sarah E. Conlin, Martin Heesacker, Blake A. Allan, Richard P. Douglass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study examines why people who believe in gender equality vary in their degree of activist participation. We conducted one study to assess whether US participants’ (N = 333) perceived behavioral or belief inconsistencies, or perceived knowledge deficits, predicted feminist self-identification and activism. Results demonstrated that the effect of pro-gender equality ideology on activism was mediated by our “bad feminist” variable—including behavioral and belief inconsistencies with gender equality, and perceived knowledge deficit about gender equality. Bad feminist self-perceptions (i.e., perceived inconsistencies) also predicted (1) feminist self-identification and (2) self-esteem. With perceived inconsistencies in the model, self-identification predicted activism to a relatively small degree (β = .23). This structural model explained 45% of variance in reported activism. This model represents an empirical study of the “bad feminist” effect and introduces a new framework for examining participation in the feminist movement. Practical implications suggest the need for increased education about inclusive feminism, aiming to debunk myths of a singular definition, with attention to perceived discrepancies or inadequacies. Future strategies aiming to promote engagement with feminism should also take self-evaluation processes into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-88
Number of pages22
JournalGender Issues
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Activism
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Feminism
  • Feminist identity
  • Feminist self-identification
  • Feminist self-labeling
  • Gender attitudes
  • Self-concept
  • Social identity

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