Feminism is associated with a variety of positive outcomes; for example, feminists are more educated than their non-feminist counterparts (Rudman and Phelan, 2007), and identifying as both women and feminists enhances women’s leadership aspirations (Leicht et al., 2017). However, it may be surprising to learn that being a feminist may improve your sex life.
Feminists may have a more positive body image than their peers who do not endorse feminist beliefs. Researchers have found, among women of diverse sexual orientations, that endorsing feminist beliefs is associated with body pride and body appreciation (Swami et al., 2019). A negative body image, conversely, is associated with sexual difficulties (see Swami et al.).
The authors suggest that feminism may “act as a buffer against negative body image.” In fact, merely being exposed to feminist ideals may increase women’s satisfaction with their physical appearance (Peterson et al., 2006), which can enhance women’s feelings of sexual attractiveness and sexual self-efficacy.
Erotophilia is a personality trait that predisposes individuals to have positive feelings toward sex and more positive reactions to sexual situations (Bay-Cheng and Zucker, 2007). Researchers have found that feminists (both heterosexual and bisexual) score higher in erotophilia than their non-feminist counterparts. Feminists may also feel increased sexual power due to their rejection of sexual double-standards (Bay-Cheng and Zucker). The authors suggest that feminists may not only respond more positively to sexual stimuli but also reject the “constraints of gendered sexual norms.”
For both men and women, having a partner who endorses feminist beliefs may lead to increased sexual satisfaction. Researchers surveyed heterosexual men and women about their own beliefs, their partners’ beliefs, and their relationship health and quality. These researchers found that for both men and women, when their partners showed more feminist attitudes, the individuals themselves reported greater relationship stability and enhanced sexual satisfaction (Rudman and Phelan, 2007). Future research should examine these relationships among feminists of differing sexual orientations.
Bay-Cheng, L. Y., & Zucker, A. N. (2007). Feminism between the sheets: Sexual attitudes among feminists, nonfeminists, and egalitarians. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31(2), 157-163.
Leicht, C., Gocłowska, M. A., Van Breen, J. A., de Lemus, S., & Randsley de Moura, G. (2017). Counter-stereotypes and feminism promote leadership aspirations in highly identified women. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 883.
Peterson, R. D., Tantleff-Dunn, S., & Bedwell, J. S. (2006). The effects of exposure to feminist ideology on women's body image. Body Image, 3(3), 237-246.
Rudman, L. A., & Phelan, J. E. (2007). The interpersonal power of feminism: Is feminism good for romantic relationships?. Sex Roles, 57(11-12), 787-799.
Swami, V., Barron, D., & Furnham, A. (2019). Feminist beliefs, empowerment, and positive body image: Exploring associations and between-group differences as a function of feminist self-labelling.