‘Woke’ Gen Z men are actually more likely than baby boomers to believe feminism does more harm than good, research says (2024)

Gen Z has often been touted as the most inclusive generation yet. It’s the demographic that’s leading discussions around mental health, sexual experiences, and politics. But new research shows that feminism doesn't make the cut in their progressive views.

For a growing cohort of young men, the radical belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as their male counterparts is even harmful.

That’s according to a new study from King’s College London’s Policy Institute and Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, in partnership with Ipsos U.K., which has uncovered that older men actually have more progressive views of the equality of the sexes than the next generation of men.

Perhaps surprisingly, Gen Z men are more likely than older baby boomers to believe that feminism has done more harm than good.

In fact, one in four U.K. males aged 16 to 29 believes it is harder to be a man than a woman, and a fifth of those who have heard of the self-proclaimed misogynist Andrew Tate look favorably on him.

Not expected

The data is in stark contrast to what most believe about men today versus their “pale, stale, and male” predecessors: The public was most likely to think the oldest group of men believe equal opportunities for women have gone too far, the research said. However, millennial men followed by Gen Zers were significantly more likely to actually feel that way.

It’s clear that young men—who are witnessing the push to pull women up the ranks—are worrying about their own future careers: Around 20% of Gen Z men think it’ll be “much harder” to be a man than a woman in 20 years’ time. In comparison, for men over 60 years old, this drops to just 9%.

“This is a new and unusual generational pattern—normally, it tends to be the case that younger generations are consistently more comfortable with emerging social norms, as they grew up with these as a natural part of their lives,” professor Bobby Duffy, director of the policy institute at King’s College London, said. “This points to a real risk of fractious division among this coming generation of young.”

The rise of misogynist influencers

At the same time as young men are turning away from feminism, misogynist men are rising in popularity online. According to Duffy, men who are feeling sidelined are filling that “void” by tuning into influencers like Tate and having their views affirmed.

Despite facing charges in Romania, which he denies, of human trafficking, rape, and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women, Tate still has a loyal legion of fans with 8.7 million followers on the social media platform X alone. His popular Instagram and Facebook accounts were taken down, and while he been banned from ever having a TikTok account, content posted under the hashtag #AndrewTate has racked up billions of views.

In one video that led to him being ousted from the British version of Big Brother, he was seen hitting a woman with a belt. He claimed it had been a consensual act.

Since then, the British American kickboxer turned influencer who proudly calls himself the “king of toxic masculinity” has openly said that women are a man's “property” and "belong in the home”—and teachers have been ringing the alarm bells over increased misogyny in the classroom as a result.

And Tate is only one of many antifeminist podcasters who've risen in popularity in recent years. Another name that resonated with over a third of young men in the study is the bestselling author, influencer, and Canadian academic Jordan Peterson, who speaks up for “demoralized young men” and says Tate offers “forthright aggression” as an alternative to “cringing defeat.”

Meanwhile, the female influencer Pearl Davis, who has amassed nearly 2 million followers on YouTube, where she often collaborates with Tate on videos, has argued that women should not vote and that men should be able to hit women back, and she has detailed the “problem with diversity hires.”

What does this mean for the future of women at work?

Previous research has suggested that Gen Z are most likely to see increased diversity as a “good thing” and that they’d “take a stand” against outdated workplace practices, like sexism.

So young businesswomen pinning their hopes on Gen Z to help make the workforce more equitable for them and speed up the dial on gender parity—only seven of the U.K.’s top 100 firms are led by women—may be crushed by the new data.

So how can workplaces become more inclusive when the next wave of men coming into them have less progressive views than their predecessors?

While it may be easy to say this is a phase that will pass, the “unusual generational pattern” can be seen beyond Britain: Half of young men in America also believe they face some kind of discrimination, and less than half identify as feminists, according to analysis by Daniel Cox, the director of the Survey Center on American Life. Meanwhile, only half support the #MeToo movement, compared to nearly three-quarters of women.

Similarly, Gallup’s data shows that young men around the world are becoming increasingly conservative, while women are becoming more progressive.

Young men today are entering the workplace at a time when women are holding senior positions for the first time in some companies' history—and it could be the reason why Gen Z men are feeling sidelined and in turn, threatened by feminism.

In her 1991 book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, the feminist author Susan Faludi argued that a backlash against women’s rights was “a recurring phenomenon” that “returns every time women begin to make some headway towards equality.”

Are you someone who believes feminism has done more harm than good in the workplace? We'd like to hear your experiences. Email: Orianna.Royle@fortune.com

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

‘Woke’ Gen Z men are actually more likely than baby boomers to believe feminism does more harm than good, research says (2024)
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