These days, it appears to me, that to call oneself a feminist has become the latest trend. There is an increasing number of men who are clamoring for women empowerment, in everyday conversations they do not forget to remind others how they are sensitive to the issues related to women, they show their sympathy towards the sufferings of women, their Facebook wall is often flooded with posts on feminism and inspiring stories of women. That looks quite promising, isn’t it? Indeed, on a personal note, I feel it is a good thing. However, only to an extent because we need to understand that people are not always what they preach they are. Nowadays, in apparently progressive and liberal environments, for feminist women, the biggest source of disappointment is not the misogynist men, unfortunately; it is some of the ‘feminist men’ who are only using the term to appear as acceptable as friends, as companions or prospective lovers and whose beliefs and actions often contradict in public and private spheres of their lives.
Kate Iselin, in her article “Why I won’t date another ‘male feminist’”, shared her experiences of encountering some so-called “feminist men” who “use the term “feminist” as either bait or an alter-ego”:
“I had lunch with a man whose openness about sex and sexuality impressed me until I declined his offer for an afternoon quickie-his response made it clear that his feminism had no room for my apparent frigidity. Then there was the gentleman who messaged me every second day to ask my fem-pinion on everything vajazzling to Lena Dunham’s memoir. When I finally asked him to cool his jets he responded furiously that I should be grateful for this incessant questions and I was lucky a man wanted to hear my opinion at all.”
This strikes a personal chord as I remember one particular incident where a self-proclaimed feminist man got aggressive towards a girl who refused his proposal for love (or rather, should I say lust?) and branded her as unattractive over a heated argument on WhatsApp:
“Go to hell! You are not beautiful enough. My friends laughed at me saying my choice is bad….yes, go to hell”.
Basically, he implied that she should be grateful that an ‘enlightened’ feminist man was showing interest in her should be considered as a blessing by her. Despite the evidence, she faced the backlash of common friends who could not fathom why a progressive man would react like this. After all, his social media posts bear testimony to his feminism. Clearly, the girl must have done something wrong. Just like with misogynists, the accusing finger was directed at the girl herself. Back to square one, you see!
But then, how do we go about distinguishing these fake or faux feminists? It is important for women striving for empowerment and equality to know who their allies are, and who are standing beside them only for potential sexual benefits. Unlike dealing with misogynists, it is quite more complicated to deal with the bunch of ‘fake feminists’ as the image they construct of themselves through continuous preaching often helps them defend their shady activities.
With regard to these ‘fake feminists’ or ‘faux-minists’, let us ponder over Wendy Gittleson’s some suggested ways on how to identify them from men who truly believe in feminism and practice it in the real sense:
- He tells you what feminism is and isn’t-
“A faux-minist might tell you that are you aren’t really a feminist if you don’t support his ideas of feminism.”
Absolutely! Once a female friend of mine had a heated argument with a self-proclaimed feminist man over fake feminism; following which he went around telling everyone:
“I am more feminist than her. She is not a feminist. I read more feminist literature than she ever did. God damn it, she is not even a good scholar!”
- Not All Men– the writer suggests that a faux-minist is likely to deny the benefits of his male privilege and in discussions pertaining to feminism, he is prone to using the phrase ‘Not All Men’ like chanting a mantra. Basically, he is brandishing his feminism to all.
- He thinks that women are at least partially to blame for abuse if they don’t leave- Faux-minists will make bold statements, like that they’d kill any man who tried to hurt a woman. There might even be a grain of truth to that, but still they aren’t capable of actually empathizing with the victim. They simply want to be the knight in shining armor.
Exactly the motto of their endless preaching! They want to appear as savior of womankind.
- He is VERY concerned about slut-shaming – Faux-minists do hate slut shaming, but ……..They generally have no problem fat shaming or shaming a woman for covering too much or for not dressing up.
Most crucially, I feel, one characteristic common amongst these faux-feminists is that for each of them, a woman’s empowerment is all about engaging in sex, with him preferably. It does not truly matter to them if she is being discriminated against at the workplace or not if she succumbs under societal pressures. All they are looking for most, is, sexual pleasure and crave to have(or rather say, possess )feminist women as friends and girlfriend(s)as shining trophies to serve as evidence of their enlightened worldview and feminist outlook.
Let me conclude with a quote(author unknown) I came across on a post by an acquaintance ”
“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does.”. Likewise, merely calling yourself a feminist does not make you one, your acts do.