Recent research conducted by Ipsos for King’s College London’s Policy Institute and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership indicates a significant generational divide among males aged 16 to 29 regarding attitudes toward feminism and masculinity. The study, polling over 3,600 people, reveals that boys and men from Generation Z are more likely than older baby boomers to believe that feminism has done more harm than good, suggesting a potential risk of fractious division within this emerging generation.
The survey shows that one in four UK males aged 16 to 29 believes it is harder to be a man than a woman. Additionally, a fifth of those surveyed expressed a favorable view of social media influencer Andrew Tate, a British-American former kickboxer with 8.7 million followers on X, despite facing charges in Romania related to human trafficking, rape, and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women. Tate has openly identified as a misogynist.
The research further highlights that 16% of Gen Z males feel that feminism has done more harm than good, compared to 13% among those over 60. Bestselling author and Canadian academic Jordan Peterson, known for advocating for “demoralized young men,” is viewed favorably by 32% of 16 to 29-year-old men, as opposed to 12% among women of the same generation.
Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute, notes, “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.”
The study reveals that 37% of men aged 16 to 29 consider the phrase “toxic masculinity” unhelpful, indicating a divide in perceptions within this age group.
Prof Rosie Campbell, director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s, suggests that the rise of social media as the primary source of information for this generation may contribute to these contrasting views. She notes, “Young women feel they can own the idea of feminist identity … [Young men] hear a lot about girl power but don’t, at this stage in their lives, understand the inequalities that we know are in the world when you hit work and childcare.”
Ethnic minority men, particularly those following Andrew Tate, express a higher likelihood of agreeing with his views on male identity and gender roles. However, the researchers caution that sample sizes are too small to determine which ethnic minority groups might be driving this trend.
As societal discussions around gender, feminism, and masculinity continue to evolve, the research underscores the importance of understanding the varied perspectives within Generation Z, particularly as they navigate the influence of social media in shaping their attitudes and beliefs.