Lisa Marie Hogeland’s article “Fear of Feminism: Why Young Women Get the Willies” is a well argued and heavily evidenced study of why young women are so adverse to feminism. Along with the evidence presented, the examples Hogeland gives show plenty of reasons why women would be afraid of feminism, but I strongly disagree with all of them.
Hogeland claims that feminism is inherently political, so fear of feminism stems from a fear of politics. This is just wrong, and it’s a view that comes from a misunderstanding of American society since nearly everything that we as a country experience and do has some affect to or stems from politics either directly or indirectly. This claim also has some hints of internalized sexism of a sort that politics is something that women just naturally fear, which is slowly being proved untrue just by the growing number of women involved in politics.
Another reason she gives is homophobia, as women just fear being considered lesbians as well as fearing lesbians and this has been proved wrong by the way society treats members of the LGBTQ community overall. This article was written in the early 1990s so she may have been correct then, but the argument is invalid now given recent studies have shown that a majority of Americans support LGBTQ legislation.
A third argument of Hogeland’s is that women believe that being a feminist will cause men to not want to be in relationships with them since not many men are feminists or support the feminist movement. This has also been a more recent change as more and more men are supporting feminism, but there are still a portion of people who do think like this so this is one argument that isn’t completely wrong, but it is a slowly fading factor.
Another thing Hogeland says is that people as feminists are not helping the younger generation by trying to tell them that “feminism itself is safe” when she claims that “it is not” (658). This is like trying to claim that feminism is dangerous, which is itself a dangerous thing to say since it’s actually opinions like this that scare women away from feminism. If women think that they are going to be harassed or attacked for believing in the things that feminism believes they are not going to want to consider themselves feminist for fear of endangering themselves.
In my personal opinion, the reason so many younger women fear feminism is simply because a majority of the time feminism is greatly misrepresented and the only way to fix that is to stop making people think that feminism is something it’s not.