Working women who engage in feminist activism report more experiences of gender harassment on the job, regardless of whether or not they identify themselves as feminists, a new University of Michigan study indicates.
“A woman who personally adopts the feminist label may not ‘out’ herself as such to others,” said Kathryn Holland, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in women’s studies and psychology. “Women openly engaging in activism for women’s rights may pose a more obvious threat to the existing gender hierarchy—a hierarchy that grants more power to men than women.”
I could give a shorter version of that. Women who engage in feminist activism experience more gender harassment. Everybody hates a feminist.
“Sexual harassment can be devastating to women, both personally and professionally. However, we found evidence that engagement in feminist activism may help protect against or remediate some negative occupational outcomes,” Holland said.
The intersection of feminism and harassment presents working women with a catch-22, she says.
“On one hand, behavioral displays of feminism could prompt sexist and sexualized hostilities from co-workers,” Holland said. “On the other hand, not engaging with feminism could increase the chance that women will suffer professionally if harassed, not to mention the fact that avoiding feminist activism diverts energy from a cause committed to advancing women inemployment.”
It will work itself out, in a few hundred years.