How is the feminist movement affecting teens today?

Written by

The Hook Team

Published on

March 17, 2017
Time to read: 3 minutes
Feminist Movement - Hook Research

Last weekend, Hook Research attended the Women of the World Festival and sat in on a panel of four adolescent girls discussing their views on the feminist movement as teenagers. Whilst there was a genuine buzz of positivity and empowerment, there was also a real sense of just how much work we still have ahead of us, particularly among the younger generations…

‘Some guy told me to get back in the kitchen’ – Feminists facing a backlash in schools

One revelation from the festival was the backlash that feminists are facing in schools. Mixed schools were reported by the panel as creating environments that pressured girls into silence, with boys stating that sexism doesn’t exist – despite the experiences of their classmates clearly suggesting otherwise (in one example shared by the panel, male pupils were heard describing the feminist movement as being about girls ‘unleashing their inner sluts’). Plan International UK’s 2016 report found that sexual offences in schools have more than doubled in recent years to an average of 10 each school day, with two thirds of victims being girls or women.

Continuously, girls report incidences of sexual assault and sexism happening in front of teachers, only for the situation to be ignored. Some of the comments around sexism in schools submitted to The Everyday Sexism Project, founded by Laura Bates, offer some examples of the sexist remarks being swept under the carpet:

“A boy in my class told me ‘Just shut up, you ugly fat cow’ when I made a mistake. Teacher ignored. Never put hand up again’

“I shouted out the wrong answer in class the other day. Some guy told me to get back in the kitchen.”

Feminist Movement

Feminism online – avoiding ‘social suicide’

The general consensus from the Teens Talk Back panel was that social media was a more free space to share thoughts on the feminist movement and inequality, whereas doing so in the classroom was – according to some of their friends – ‘social suicide’.  Shan Hama, a 16 year old member of Plan International UK’s Youth Advisory Panel, said that her peers at school thought she was radical for discussing the feminist movement, but online she discovered a sense of solidarity where she could freely discuss these topics. It seems that she’s not alone: 46% of girls aged 13 – 21 say that social media empowers them to speak out about things they care about.

Yet the online space also opens the door to the very real issue of trolling and cyber bulling. 44% of girls self-harm due to cyber bullying with 49% of girls aged 11 to 21 say the fear of abuse online makes them feel less able to share their views. This however, does not mean they don’t share.

When asked how they deal with online harassment, the panel assured us that they would ‘continue to speak out for the rest of their lives’. Confirming this, Girls Guiding’s Survey  found that the majority of girls they spoke to were committed to challenging sexism when they see it; these girls are reclaiming the internet to express their views and have a voice.

Is it possible to take part in the feminist movement and stay safe?

The Teens Talk Back panel called for social media platforms to take responsibility in keeping young women safe online, saying that options for reporting accounts were lacking. Similarly, Plan International’s UK research suggests that measures designed to protect girls were ineffective or had negative consequences for girls, reinforcing a sense of voicelessness by often barring girls from the internet.

As a result, girls have been educating themselves, stating ‘activism shouldn’t deteriorate your mental health’. Staying safe online is currently trending among activists and political bloggers, with influencers releasing posts that girls use to create safety strategies and still remain a part of the feminist movement.

While it’s clear that adolescent girls are finding ways to challenge sexism, the risks to their well-being and safety reinforces just how important it is that society takes more responsibility. Plan International UK calls for schools to begin engaging boys, parents and girls in conversation and the pressure for social media platforms to begin tackling the issue is stronger than ever.

It’s a bittersweet fact that girls and women are leading the feminist movement – we urgently need to create environments where they can be heard, encouraged, and supported by society.

Enjoy reading this blog? At Hook, we’re always on the lookout for the latest trends in youth, media, and entertainment. Follow us on Twitter or sign up for our newsletter and make sure you don’t miss out on our weekly updates!



You should probably settle….

It’s Autumn which only means one thing – Married At First Sight (MAFS) UK on E4. Whilst undeniably entertaining, MAFS crystallises a point about dating and life made by Oliver Burkeman in his book Four Thousand Weeks. That point is that people should be more...

Spider-Man: The Ultimate Origin Story

In the vast universe of superheroes, one name stands out as an emblem of relatability, resilience, and redemptive power: Spider-Man. So, it makes sense that he's the cultural phenomenon we have chosen as this months Hook Top Trump! Since 1962, Peter Parker’s everyman...

A new era of Big Brother

When Big Brother launched last century it was totally new and authentic. Contestants had no idea that Big Brother would pull in huge audiences, and acted accordingly: some contestants were comfortingly humdrum feeding chickens and reading books; and some, like Nasty...

Hook’s Iconic Animated Male Leads for Kids

As promised, following last week's non- animated and animated iconic female leads we have the male leads. All of us at Hook Towers have collaboratively put these lists together in response to The Guardian's top 50 kids' shows to binge over the summer. There were so...

Creating Little Happy Learners with Sophie David

Little Happy Learners was founded by Sophie David, an ex primary school teacher and Early Years Foundation Stage specialist. Using her expertise in education, Sophie launched Little Happy Learners in 2019. She now has over 170k followers on her Instagram page, a...

Ninja Turtles: A Timeless Pop Culture Phenomenon

The world of pop culture is riddled with iconic characters, but few have stood the test of time quite like the Ninja Turtles.  And their blend of martial arts, mutant animals, heroism pizza eating and catchphrases.At its core, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the DNA...

Team Hook’s Favourite Books

September is always a big month for parents and kids alike, because it always means one thing: back to school. There are a lot of things that can be associated with the start of a new school year; for kids it’s the excitement (and sometimes nervousness) of new...

Free Resources to Support Learning at Home

To help welcome children in primary aged groups back to school, we’ve put together ten free resources. These can be used at home to support your child with different areas of learning. Area of learning: Managing stress and worries Resource: @TheMindfulnessTeacher Age:...

Hook’s Iconic Non-Animated Male Leads for Kids

As promised, following our recent post and in response to The Guardian's top 50 kids' shows to binge over the summer... we have the non-animated male leads. A lot of tough choices and some disagreements here at Hook Towers... especially over The Suite Life of Zack and...

More posts in this category

get a digest of our latest thoughts delivered to your inbox


Don't Miss Out!

Each month, Hook's experts create a roundup of hot takes and insights into the Kids and Media industries...for free!

This information will never be shared with third parties