Increasing opposition to feminism and gender equality in the Norwegian society?
In recent years, a tendency towards increasing equality scepticism and antifeminism has been observed in a number of countries. This is not the case in Norway – on the contrary.
At the same time as the struggle for women’s basic rights, gender equality and anti-discrimination continues, there has in many countries been a burgeoning mobilisation of movements that promote antifeminist ideologies. This polarisation of attitudes has been visible in, among other places, Europe, the United States and South America.
With this increasing polarisation as a backdrop, researchers Ragni Hege Kitterød and Mari Teigen have examined whether similar developments are occurring in Norway.
“We find no tendencies towards increasing polarisation in views on gender equality. On the contrary, we find a growing consensus on gender equality as the ideal”, says Kitterød.
A growing number of people believe gender equal family roles represent an ideal
Kitterød and Teigen have based their analyses on both international and national studies, and mapped the attitudes of women and men in Norway to questions regarding:
- Women’s professional work
- Men’s participation in the home
- Division of labour among couples with children
- The continued gender equality development
- Induced abortion
They also explore changes in support among the population as a whole and among various groups.
Among both women and men, support for gender equal family roles has increased. It is still the case that more women than men are supportive of gender equality in the family, but the increase has been greatest among men.
“Differences remain between groups regarding support for gender equality, e.g., according to age and level of education, but such differences are less pronounced than before. We interpret this as gender equality having become a value that is shared by the majority”, says Teigen.
Gender differences becomes less pronounced over time
The analyses show that there is support for gender equality among the population, also in relation to the other questions.
The number of people who believe women and men are biologically different in terms of thoughts and feelings is decreasing. This pattern is seen in both sexes. There is also a large and growing support among both women and men for the right to induced abortion.
However, gender differences persist in relation to one question.
“A vast majority of women believe that women continue to be discriminated against, and this share has also seen a slight increase. Among men, just under half believe the same, and this share has remained stable over time”, Kitterød elaborates.
Is Norway an exception?
There is little evidence that the polarisation of opinion observed in other countries has gained a foothold in Norway. Even though women are to a greater extent than men positive to gender equality and women’s rights, the gender difference in support for gender equality has decreased over time. This may indicate that Norway is moving in a different direction than other countries in terms of gender equality and feminism.
Why are we not seeing the same tendencies towards antifeminist mobilisation in Norway as in some other countries?
“There are many factors that contribute to persistent high levels of support for gender equality in Norway. For instance, gender equality has provided increased freedom and opportunities to make choices, despite gender-determined expectations. This applies to both women and men. There are also some powerful driving forces in antifeminist mobilisation in a number of countries, which have been less prominent in Norway. In Southern and Eastern Europe, the Catholic Church has mobilised against gender equality, as have extreme right-wing populists and national conservative movements”, says Teigen.