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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    (some) comments removed. Please don't treat the comment section as a mini chat room, if you'd like to discuss the topic of question, feel free to do it in our actual chat room. Post comments are only meant for asking clarifications and for improving a post.
    – yannis
    Mar 5, 2013 at 9:52
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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, 2013 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. Mar 15, 2013 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, 2013 at 3:10
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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.) Oct 6, 2018 at 19:10

3 Answers 3


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.

An additional source of opposition to feminism relates to 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.

Edit, 23rd February 2021: The link to the document from the campaign group "Women Against Rape" I referred to in the above answer has now gone dead. However it can still be read on the Internet Archive / Wayback Machine here. The time of first publication seems to have been June 2011.

The document is an open letter addressed to the then UK Director of Public Prosecutions from Lisa Longstaff of the campaign group "Women Against Rape" and co-signed by 30 other organisations and 15 individuals. It begins, "We strongly believe that the prosecution of women for alleged false allegations of rape is not in the public interest." It then lists several reasons why the signatories of the letter held that opinion. At the time the letter was written, the post of UK Director of Public Prosecutions was held by Keir Starmer. Note that his becoming first an MP then leader of the Labour party (and also becoming Sir Keir Starmer) all lay in the future.

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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, 2018 at 12:11
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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, 2018 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". Aug 23, 2018 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. Oct 6, 2018 at 18:44
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    This is missing a very important group of opponents: those that do not believe that women should have equal rights, as it is convenient for them if they don't. I'd even go as far as to argue that the majority of religious opposition is from this camp, and the religious rules only serve as pretext. Feb 23, 2021 at 13:43

Yes, there is a great deal of non-religious opposition to feminism, all of which rejects the idea that feminism seeks equality.

Broadly speaking, these groups fall into 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 why they oppose feminism, it is due to feminist policies and priorities which deliberately seek to disadvantage men and families more generally, and oppose MRAs when legitimately seeking equal rights.

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

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    What is "red pill philosophy"?
    – gerrit
    Aug 21, 2018 at 19:50
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    @gerrit It's an MRA thing.
    – user1530
    Aug 21, 2018 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, 2018 at 8:49
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    @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, 2018 at 13:06
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    @AcidKritana There's a difference between Red Pill guys and MRAs. They all agree that the system is broken, but the Red Pill guys say "we should exploit the broken system for personal benefit", the MRAs say "we should fix the broken system", and the MGTOWs say "we should abandon the broken system".
    – nick012000
    Feb 23, 2021 at 10:09

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, 2013 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, 2013 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, 2018 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, 2018 at 9:16

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