Feminism holds that men and women should have equal rights (e.g. Feminism on Wikipedia).

Preachers in many religions may preach that men and women are fundamentally different, and even that men are superior to women. Followers of such religions may oppose feminism.

I can understand why people would differ widely in their views as to the means of achieving equal rights, as many policies or campaigns can backfire and have unintended side-effects. But is there any non-religious opposition against the aims of feminism? What is the nature of this opposition?

The Wikipedia article on Antifeminism is very limited.

Clarification: I am looking specifically for non-religious reasons cited by non-feminists describing why they oppose feminism.

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    when asking for "What is the nature of this opposition?", are you asking for reasons that the people opposing feminism state, or for reasons stated by feminists to explain the opposition? (which frequently are diametrally opposite) – user4012 Mar 6 '13 at 0:52
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    It should be noted that many religions (Catholicism, many Christian denominations, etc.) are not against the aims of feminism: equal rights for women. But it is true that their actions sometimes backfire, and that their inaction often serves to perpetuate inequality. But this is not anti-feminist. – Andres Riofrio Mar 15 '13 at 17:58
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    the cost is borne by males, so they would be the first place to look – user1726 May 6 '13 at 3:10
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    @Bregalad The Wikipedia article on Feminism has changed considerably since March 2013, the same for its article on antifeminism. – gerrit Aug 17 '15 at 8:46
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    One of the issues is that "feminism" is not a single unitary movement or ideology. There are many strands in feminism, and it is possible to support some while opposing others. Indeed some strands are directly opposed (e.g. some feminists support sex work, while others seek to abolish it.) – Paul Johnson Oct 6 '18 at 19:10

If one agrees that feminism is adequately described by the statement "Feminism holds that men and women should have equal rights", then a majority of people in liberal democracies, including religious people, are feminists. According to this poll carried out in April 2013 in the United States by the Economist magazine and the polling organisation YouGov, 57% of respondents and 67% of female respondents would describe themselves as feminists when given a definition of feminism very similar to that.

However, the same poll states that only a minority - 28% of respondents and 38% of female respondents - answered yes when asked "Do you consider yourself to be a feminist, or not?" I have read of other polls in other developed countries that gave a slightly higher percentage describing themselves as feminist but still not a majority. I don't know enough about opinions in less developed countries to discuss them.

Clearly there are many people who do not accept that feminism is adequately defined by the objective of equal rights between the sexes, which they generally like; they feel that feminism also includes other aspects, which they dislike.

There is a sense in which feminism cannot be solely defined by its desired outcome, equal rights, which is shared by many other political philosophies which have no special focus on women. For it to be worthy of the name, feminism must have a special interest in women and an analysis that says injustices suffered by women because of their gender are sufficiently important to have a movement dedicated to ending them.

My impression is that much of the explicitly political non-religious opposition to feminism comes from those who for one reason or another dispute that the ending of gender-based injustice is an important political objective. They think not that feminism is wrong, but that it is a distraction.

Some left wingers see feminists as rich women complaining about not getting the very top levels of class privilege while remaining complacent in the face of much greater class-based injustice. Some black and ethnic minority activists make much the same diagnosis but with "white women" replacing "rich women" and "race-based injustice" replacing "class-based injustice". Another strand of opposition to feminism comes from those who believe that classifying people as men or women forces them into an over-simplistic picture of binary genders.

There is opposition to feminism that is based on a belief that the feminist movement has taken on repressive attitudes. In this article from the UK Guardian the radical feminist Julie Bindel worries that feminism is in danger of becoming "toxic".

There are also those who do not accept that in modern society gender-based injustice is suffered by women (or not entirely by them, in a softer version). For instance, they argue, a higher proportion of women than men go to university, women usually get custody of children in divorces, men generally die earlier, and much higher proportions of men do the most dirty and dangerous jobs. In addition there have been feminist-inspired moves for the watering down of the presumption of innocence and other legal protections for men accused of rape. For example this document from the group "Women Against Rape" urges that there should be no prosecutions for false allegations of rape, ever. Concern over this specific issue prompts much non-religious based opposition to feminism as it is seen by many.

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    @user how is it misrepresented? To strongly believe that x is against public interest is pretty much demanding there should be no x. – Communisty Aug 22 '18 at 12:11
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    @Communisty I think "demands" might be a stronger word than is merited by the document, or at least includes some implications that aren't inherently included in the document. I would suggest a more measured term like "urges". – Kamil Drakari Aug 22 '18 at 18:04
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    @KamilDrakari I don't think the group urged or demanded.It seems more appropriate to say that the group states:"We strongly believe that the prosecution of women for alleged false allegations of rape is not in the public interest." I don't see any demands or urges, just a statement (with 14 claims without any sources or metrics that does absolutely nothing to address any possible negative ramifications of the proposal) <---- NOT SAYING THE CLAIMS ARE FALSE,there is just no support. eg"Children whose mothers are imprisoned suffer untold lasting harm."If the suffering is untold how do they know? – Crettig Aug 22 '18 at 21:39
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    @Crettig the document in question is a letter directly addressed to a member of the UK Parliament and unambiguously advocating a specific policy decision. In that context I remain comfortable with the term "urges" even if the specific phrasing involved is "X is good" rather than "you should do X". – Kamil Drakari Aug 23 '18 at 13:49
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    @Crettig, I wrote the answer above. As suggested by Kamil Drakan in response to you, I changed "demands" to "urges". However I think it is clear that a letter addressed to the then UK Director of Public Prosecutions starting with the words "We strongly believe that the prosecution of women for alleged false allegations of rape is not in the public interest" is not a mere list of statements, it may not be demanding, but it is urging, a change in policy. – Lostinfrance Oct 6 '18 at 18:44

For those of you looking for a shorter and more digestible answer:

Feminism is a somewhat vague term that can define any number of pro-women movements.

  • Some movements indeed advocate for women to be equal under the law, but
    • One can make the case that there some ways in-which women cannot be equal under the law simply because some scenarios apply to women and not to men. Childbirth is the most obvious example of such a scenario.
    • This kind of feminism, however isn't a very controversial form of feminism

  • The more controversial movements, however Advocate for women to be treated equally in by private entities who aren't involved with the law. This includes issues such as employment practices and Political Correctness.
    • Anti-PC people are opposed to some of these issues
    • there are other people who believe that such issues ought to be outside the scope of law.

  • And then there are other movements that go beyond, and advocate for Women to have extra rights. These movements tend to be somewhat fringe, but not super-fringe.
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    Can you give an example of movements that propose for women to have extra rights? – gerrit Mar 5 '13 at 21:03
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    @gerrit - gender preferences in hiring is the most obvious example. Female specific laws (such as VAWA) are another. Custody issues. All of these are not just some special movements but mainstay feminist issues. – user4012 Mar 6 '13 at 17:16
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    @SamIam that article doesn't say anything about extra rights. The answer starts on a flawed premise (that feminism is a vague term - it's actually well defined and understood). – user Aug 22 '18 at 8:40
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    @user That's laughable... feminism hasn't been well defined in over 10 years. This is obvious if you read any gender science literature. They all start with a definition of feminism as used in that book. It's also a logical evolution when the focus has to switch from tangible problems (lack of voting rights) to intangible ones (veiled discrimination based on often subconscious stereotyping). Arguing that it is well defined and understood is almost always coupled to someone pushing their agenda on what contemporary feminism should be about. – DonFusili Aug 23 '18 at 9:16

I am a non-religious woman who is opposed to feminism because I am a stranger rape survivor. Feminists only recognize two groups of people it seems: us and them. This is because it is based in Marxist ideology but trust me - almost no feminist will admit to it, and most of them don't even UNDERSTAND the roots or CONTEXT from which feminism came. No matter - if you don't agree with them they assume you are some kind of religious bigot. (pot meet kettle)

Feminism has an ever expanding list of unattainable goals, and will not compromise them. Instead they beat people over the head with the metaphorical stick over petty inter-feminism squabbles like whether someone uses the word prostitute instead of "sex worker", and make a mockery of rape advocacy (see: Slutwalk: an "anti-rape" movement formed by two feminists, neither of whom have actually EVER BEEN RAPED, where rape victims are supposed to run around in public in their panties to "protest rape") facepalm

Yes, feminists are so very helpful to us raped people - they want to put us to put our flesh on display to the public to win points from their friends - how cute!

So anyhow, there is actually a lot of non-religious anti-feminism but the FACT that feminism has such an us against them mandate that they often think "anti-feminist" = religious/conservative/racist/mra. This is reductionist in the extreme. I am not an MRA, I am not conservative, I am not racist, and I am not religious, but I AM ANTI-FEMINIST.

I am against feminism because it is extremist ideology on par with religious fundamentalism, and because they ASS_U_ME that if you are against unequal treatment, racism or sexual assault that you also want to support their "pet" causes: BDSM, fat acceptance, polyamory, blogging about their vaginas, calling people who disagree with them bigots and generally being obnoxious, snotty little bitches all over the internet (source see - feministe.us, Amanda Marcotte, Renee the rampaging racist - sorry Womynist Musings, Jezebel.com etc.)

So yes, there are plenty of non-religious anti-feminists. However, the fact that the question is posed this way points to the main issue here. Feminists seem to often have a hard time believing that any women would not just jump on their bandwagon (women's right's yay!) instead of applying critical thinking and deciding whether or not their platform is legit. I think most women fall somewhere in between, but feminists rarely acknowledge criticism about their group from non-feminist women and often immediately assume they are right-wing or religious (because of course in their world there are ONLY TWO options feminist or bigot, you know).

For instance, they typically accuse me of being a religious conservative the minute I raise any sort of objection that their platform is political at it's core and NOT really about "women's rights". Most anti-feminist women I know (and I do know a few non-religious anti-feminists in real life) because they are rejecting feminism for its ignorance and iron fistedness - not because they are religious, conservative, or against women's rights. Also feminism does not equal women's rights. Feminism would not even exist without Marx - where do these ladies think this idea of "privilege" they love to beat each other over the head with online came from hmmmm?

At any rate, there are plenty of non-religious anti-feminists but they are rarely acknowledged. I for one, wish feminists would quit acting like it is their RIGHT to speak for ALL women and that if someone disagrees with them WHY THEY MUST BE A BIGOT. Pot meet kettle. Also, IMO they should stay the hell, out of rape advocacy. Just because someone is a victim of a violent crime doesn't mean they have a right to exploit them.

I swear it's like having your wallet stolen and then finding out that the victim's advocacy group called "Help for Victims of Pickpocketing" is most concerned with "fat acceptance" and "liberation for sex workers" and that unless you support their fringe causes they will label you a bigot. Just because I was raped doesn't mean I have to care about feminism or it's dumb causes, and I really wish they would quit acting like rape victims should appreciate that they blog about rape all the time (never mind that they make advertising dollars off all those "rape clicks"). Ah, feminism - the most exploitative anti-exploitation movement ever!

Anyhow, I am anti-feminst, non-religious and pro-human rights and no that's not an oxymoron. Thanks.

  • Analogies are fun, but typically always going to be partisan--at least in the context of politics. – user1530 Mar 20 '13 at 16:21
  • @gerrit - name one time GWB called a political opponent an enemy? The problem isn't us-vs-them itself, its applying it to politics and not international disputes. – user4012 Mar 20 '13 at 16:30
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    @IMO I'm really sorry for what happened to you, and I understand that you are angry, but maybe this isn't the best forum venting that. I can assure you that despite your bad experiences, there are people out there who genuinely want to help you. – user Aug 22 '18 at 8:45
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    How is bdsm a feminist pet cause? – John Dec 18 '19 at 11:04

The Wikipedia article on Antifeminism is very limited.

In my opinion the natural antonym of feminism isn't "anti-feminism": it's sexism -- which I understand to mean, approximately, that people's role and status in society and social relationships is determined by their gender.

Many religions preach that men and women are fundamentally different, and even that men are superior to women. Such religions oppose feminism.

I'm not sure I agree.

Instead I think there are many people who preach that, but ... when slavery (for example) was a widespread practice, people preached (I'd say "invented") religious justifications for that. I see the "religious" justification as poor excuses though, rather than the reasons (i.e. "why?") that you may be asking about.

I am looking specifically for non-religious reasons cited by non-feminists describing why they oppose feminism [the aims of feminism and not just the means of achieving equal rights].

I'm not sure you'll find them.

Consider this analogy: imagine there were a movement towards financial equality -- e.g. so that poor people become richer.

  • Will anyone speak out against that aim? No, they won't -- it's the American dream, this is the "land of opportunity", and so on.
  • Will anyone speak out against the methods? Yes for sure, they do -- "I'm alright, Jack" -- people oppose taxes (including income, wealth, and estate taxes), public education, the "welfare" state, public health insurance and/or health care, reverse discrimination or affirmative actions, labour regulations (minimum wage, parental leave), the universal wage is a pipe-dream, and so on.

    Incredibly, some people oppose it on religious grounds -- e.g. prosperity theology (see also "protestant work ethic" and Achievement ideology) ... and/or, invoking the spectre of godless communists (it's hard for me to imagine how socialism came to be viewed as a- or anti-religious) -- but I fail to see religion as a motive, just as a poor excuse (I think it's just an exercise of "might makes right" ... or as La Fontaine put it in the 17th century, la raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleur, "the reasoning of the stronger is always superior", also known as ultima ratio regum).

Speaking of "kings", see e.g. the web site Return of Kings (I won't link to it). I take that as an example of something called, more generally the Men's rights movement (Wikipedia quotes sources describing it as "antifeminist" and as advocating "male supremacy" and misogyny) -- I don't think that's religious at all, except perhaps where it allies with anti-abortion advocates (incidentally I'm not sure that "anti-abortion" is a religious principle either, see e.g. Christians in the Hand of an Angry God (part 4), which starts, "So what does the Bible say about the intentional termination of a pregnancy? Nothing. That's right, nothing. It never comes up. Even in the holiness code, which takes time out to preach about the evils of mildew, there isn't a single thing about the intentional termination of a pregnancy.", and goes on to argue that life or at least the soul begins at birth with the first breath and that a fetus might be considered like property ... that whole screed, in 5 parts, is more generally about how "religion" came to be linked with "right-wing" politics in America).

Also apparently there are some men who believe that women are privileged, in society, and that men are relatively exploited and socially conditioned to be subservient. To the extent that feminism may propose (even) more advantages to women, I suppose these men would be against that aim. I can only offer this link as a reference to that -- What is the red pill philosophy? -- because I'm unfamiliar with their writings.

Another kind of antifeminism (apart from outright male supremacy or dominance), which also isn't necessarily religious (and which may be even more widespread than male supremacy, e.g. I imagine that successful and/or traditionally-educated women, too, find it appealing) comes from Social conservatism -- who, I suppose, argue that traditional gender roles are good. I think this isn't necessarily antifeminist -- "Marry, be a wife and mother, stay at home ... or don't, it's up to you!" is a type of equality -- but (e.g. per that Wikipedia article) I think it often is (and may also be opposed to the "aim" of feminism and not just the methods).

There's some link between conservatism and religion too (e.g. religion existed in the past, is traditional).

Finally I suppose there are people whose view is that "equal rights" exist already (and that therefore, I don't know, feminists advocating change are intent on disrupting the lives of others, making a name for themselves for some useless/trivial/invented reason: see also "grievance politics","victim mentality", "identity politics"). On that subject I note, too, that the OP summarises feminism as "equal rights for men and women" -- which ("rights") might restrict the topic to "theoretical legal rights" rather than "actual social opportunities" (allowing you to oppose anything more than "equal rights" as political "overreach") ... and which ("men and women") might be heteronormative, and exclude equal opportunities for children especially including girls.

P.S. It isn't only a matter of politics and economics (and sociology), it's also a matter of interpersonal relationships -- e.g. I presume that feminists oppose criminal sexual harassment, however the whole topic of "harassment" is controversial and criticised ("Though the phrase sexual harassment is generally acknowledged to include clearly damaging and morally deplorable behavior, its boundaries can be broad and controversial. Accordingly, misunderstandings can occur"). Therefore I suppose that feminism (or feminists) might be viewed as wanting to police sexual behaviour -- "innocent flirting" too, for example -- or conversely, to license it. Wikipedia says "In most modern legal contexts, sexual harassment is illegal" but it also says that wold-whistling might be considered "a form of sexual harassment in itself" -- I say this to show that the boundaries maybe aren't clear. I suppose that there's "illegal harassment" but also "legal (or not-illegal) harassment", that feminists might be anti both forms, and that that is not entirely popular.


Yes there is a great deal of non religious opposition to feminism. All of which utterly reject the idea that feminism seeks equality, as do the vast majority of respondents in the wider public.

Broadly speaking these groups fall in three categories.

  1. Red Pill philosophy, which is fairly overarching
  2. Men Going Their Own Way or MGTOW which both advocates and advises men to not live with or marry women, but not necessarily be celibate.
  3. Men's Rights Movement or individual MRAs who seek equality in the areas where feminists discriminate against men.

    Roughly speaking MRAs seek to change the system and MGTOWs seek to leave the system.

    As to your clarification of why they oppose feminism it is due to feminist policies and priorities which deliberately seek to disadvantage men and families more generally, are utterly graceless by nature and oppose MRAs when legitimately seeking equal rights.

    An excellent documentary of the MRM is available called, "The Red Pill" by Cassie Jaye (2016).

  • What is "red pill philosophy"? – gerrit Aug 21 '18 at 19:50
  • @gerrit It's an MRA thing. – user1530 Aug 21 '18 at 21:07
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    This answer could be good if it was cleaned up to remove the unreferenced claims and took a more detached, impassionate tone. – user Aug 22 '18 at 8:49
  • @gerrit Per this, "red pill" appears to be a view a) that women are privileged, and men are disadvantaged and exploited; b) that women view men in a certain way, and that men must behave accordingly (i.e. as "alphas") in order to have one or more "successful" relationships c) that people are somewhat robotic, motivated by biology and instinct, and deceitful when they reason and communicate (and so that you need to see through these lies and social conditioning etc.). – ChrisW Oct 8 '18 at 13:06

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