I asked my 15-year-old sister why she isn’t a feminist

Only 19 per cent of 18-24 year olds identify as feminists


I’m a feminist, a loud, proud, entirely unembarrassed feminist.

My 15-year-old sister however, is not.  According to the Fawcett Society only 19 per cent of 18-24 year old women would describe themselves as feminist.  A spokesperson for the charity said “feminism is enjoying a welcome resurgence now, particularly amongst young women. As feminists, the challenge comes back to us to include those women and men who want to achieve equality but who do not readily identify with the term.”

Here lies perhaps the biggest stumbling block – the reluctance stems partly from the visibility of stars like Katy Perry, Sarah Jessica Parker and Gwyneth Paltrow rejecting feminism due to what they see as extreme views – Perry saying the label is “too strong” for her.  If these are the people young girls look up to then naturally they too will reject feminism in fear of being different or going against the grain, meaning that eventually, despite its current resurgence we could face a feminism drought.

Because of this, I decided to talk to my sister, Caitlin, about feminism.

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Why do you say you aren’t a feminist?
I mean, I don’t say I’m 100 per cent not a feminist I just wouldn’t call myself one because I don’t understand the whole concept. The bad side of it is publicised way more than the positive side which gives off the wrong impression to me.
So, what do you understand a feminist to be?
I understand a feminist to want equal rights for women, but I don’t know if there are different levels and types of feminism as it’s never really talked about in school or with my friends.
Do your friends identify as feminists?
One of my friends does but she takes sociology so I think she knows more about it – the rest of us aren’t really bothered about it.
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Do you think you should all learn about feminism in school?
I think we should learn about it in school as it is a part of our modern society, we could talk about it in PSE and RE lessons – if it’s in the news we should be learning about it, we can’t be expected to just know.
Do you think you’ll embrace feminism as you grow up?
I do think as I grow up I’ll embrace feminism but who knows what feminism will lead to in say 5 or 10 years time.
Have you experienced sexism?
I don’t experience sexism on a regular basis but in school I see that in certain subjects like IT there are only three girls in my class, so I feel like I stick out a bit.  I don’t know why girls don’t want to do subjects like that.  It’s what I might want to work in the future and it’s not nice knowing there aren’t many other girls who are interested.
What impression do I give you of feminism?
Sometimes I feel like you judge what I say and bite your tongue, I’m not bothered by it but I get frustrated when you are confrontational about your beliefs.
Do you want the political, social and economic equality of the sexes?
Of course I want equality for both sexes but some people believe that men are the dominant sex over women, so realistically it will probably be a long time. However feminism has come a very long way, I mean, before 1928 women under 30 couldn’t vote, and before 1918 women couldn’t vote at all, that’s not even 100 years ago.
The lesson I wanted Caitlin, and others who feel like they can’t label themselves as feminists, to take away from this is that everything she said makes her a feminist, and that she shouldn’t be scared to call herself one.  Say you’re a feminist, shout it from the rooftops and be proud.