One in three men believe feminism does more harm than good

On the occasion of International Women's Day, Ipsos unveils the results of a global survey conducted in 30 countries in collaboration with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London.

International Women's Day 2022 - Ipsos

 

Key findings

  • Only two in ten deny the existence of gender inequality, but views are split on the benefits of feminism 

  • Concerns about online abuse remain, with one in ten men saying it’s acceptable to send someone unrequested explicit images  

  • Four in ten have experienced online abuse or seen sexist content but one in three believe many women overreact 

  • Victim-blaming attitudes are found in a minority across the countries asked 

 

Gender Bias - Ipsos

 

Men are more likely to question the existence of gender inequality and the benefits of feminism  

The majority of people globally disagree gender inequality doesn’t really exist, with a global country average of 55%. However, despite evidence that gender inequality globally has only increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, just under a fifth agree (18%). Men are more likely to agree that gender inequality doesn’t really exist than women (21% vs 14%). In several countries, the proportion of men who agree is double the proportion of women (including Australia, 30% vs 14%; Romania, 27% vs 13%; and Russia, 30% vs 12%). 

Men are also more likely to be sceptical about the benefits of feminism and to question the existence of gender inequality today: 

  • A third of men think feminism does more harm than good (32% global country average) and believe that traditional masculinity is under threat (33%).  

  • Women are less likely to agree, with a fifth (20%) agreeing feminism does more harm than good and a quarter thinking traditional masculinity is under threat today (25%). 

  • A fifth think that feminism has resulted in men losing out in terms of economic or political power or socially (19%), with men more likely to agree than women (23% vs 15%).  

 

Victim-blaming attitudes toward violence against women are held by a minority, but only around half disagree outright with victim-blaming statements 

Around half disagree that violence against women is often provoked by the victim (global country average of 55%) and that women who say they are abused often make up or exaggerate claims of abuse or rape (53%), and a minority expressed concerning views in relation to violence against women:  

  • Around one in seven say violence against women is often provoked by the victim (15%), including 13% of women. The same proportion say that women who report being abused often make up or exaggerate claims (15%, with 20% of men and 10% of women agreeing).  

  • While three quarters disagree that it’s a woman’s obligation to have sex with her boyfriend or husband even if she doesn’t feel like it (76%), one in ten agree (9%).  

  • Younger people are more likely to agree with all three sentiments. For example, around one in five Gen Z and Millennials agree that violence against women is often provoked by the victim (18% and 19%, respectively, compared to 14% of Gen X and 11% of Baby Boomers).  

 

Online Harm - Ipsos

 

Women are more likely to receive online harassment and to feel affected by it  

Harmful and misogynistic content is prevalent online: 

  • Two in five (45% global country average) say they have experienced online abuse or seen sexist content in the past two years.  

  • Of the examples of harmful content surveyed, the two most commonly viewed forms are comments or images suggesting men are superior to women or suggesting that women cause many of the problems faced by men (16% each).  

  • Women were more likely to say they had noticed both these messages, perhaps being more likely to notice and remember these messages (19% of women vs 13% of men noticed comments suggesting men are superior, and 18% of women vs 13% of men saw comments suggesting women cause men’s problems).  

  • In terms of online harassment, women are more likely to have received sexual harassment. A fifth (19%) have been sent unrequested comments or compliments on their physical appearance and one in 10 (11%) have had sexist or misogynistic language directed at them (vs 10% and 5% of men, respectively).  

Women also seem to be more impacted by online abuse, as among those who have viewed comments or images online which suggest men are superior to women or that women cause many of the problems facing men are more likely to report that they have stopped saying what they think online (32% vs 26% of men), experienced lower self-esteem or self-confidence (26% vs 18% of men) and experienced panic attacks, anxiety or stress (18% vs 13% of men) as a result of online abuse. 

The majority agree that women should not have to put up with online abuse (78% global country average). Agreement is lower amongst men (74% vs 82% of women) and younger generations (75% of under 50s vs 85% of over 50s). However, people are split as to whether the best way for women to deal with online abuse is to ignore it, with 35% agreeing and 39% disagreeing. 

People are slightly more likely to agree than disagree that men are mainly to blame for online abuse (35% agree and 27% disagree). However, people are split on whether many women overreact to things that people send them or say to them online (33% agree and 31% disagree), and agreement is higher amongst men (36% vs 30% of women).

Most think harmful and abusive online behaviour is unacceptable, but acceptability is higher among men, frequent internet users, and younger generations 

When asked about various forms of online abuse, the vast majority find them unacceptable. However: 

  • A quarter think sending unrequested comments or compliments to someone on their physical appearance is acceptable (25% global country average), with men more likely to agree than women (28% vs 22%).  

  • Around one in 10 think the following forms of online contact are acceptable: using generally abusive language (11%), homophobic or transphobic comments (9%), sexist or misogynistic language (8%), racist language (8%), posting personal details online (8%), and sending unrequested sexually explicit images (7%). Men are more likely to find all these forms of online contact acceptable. Six per cent find sharing someone’s intimate images without consent acceptable. 

  • More frequent online usage was associated with viewing forms of online harm as acceptable. For example, those who use online gaming sites at least once a month were more likely to view sharing someone’s intimate images without their consent as acceptable than those who never use social media, messaging services, or online gaming (11% vs 2%).  

  • Younger people tend to be more likely to find harmful online behaviour acceptable than older generations. For example, 10% of Gen Z and Millennials find sending someone unrequested, sexually explicit images acceptable, compared to 6% of Gen X and 3% of Baby Boomers.


This 30-country survey was conducted between Friday, January 21, and Friday, February 4, 2022, on Ipsos’ Global Advisor online survey platform among 20,524 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, 21-74 in Singapore, and 16-74 in all 24 other countries.

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