Beware of “Woke” Men

Many of us active, college feminists seek to surround ourselves with men and women who share our same fervor for gender equity. When you stumble upon those seemingly all-too-rare “male feminists,” it almost seems too good to be true! He has the dreamy eyes of prince charming AND can use the phrase “systematic oppression” in a sentence?? Unfortunately, it usually is too good to be true. Oftentimes, behind those circular Harry-Potteresque glasses and grungy denim jackets lie deception and misogyny. Here are a few ways to gauge how “woke” the men in your life really are.

    Men who label themselves as feminists are often more than eager to tell you that. However, as with any movement, we must be wary that our privileged allies do not overpower the marginalized voices of the movement. In an attempt to speak out against misogyny, men sometimes end up dominating a conversation that does not belong to them. Don’t be afraid to speak up if a “woke” man constantly interrupts or invalidates women’s arguments! Whether it be in a women’s studies class, a political conversation, or just casual coffee-shop banter, true male feminists must learn to check their privilege and know when to be quiet and listen.

    Along these same lines, when self-proclaimed male feminists find themselves in a conflict, it is often difficult for them to separate themselves from their “woke” title and accept fault. Many male feminists are locked in the mindset that “because I’m comparatively better than a portion of them that are truly and objectively awful, that means it’s not really worth calling me out,” as Adam Rotstein satirically proclaimed in his humor post “Hey, It’s Me, a Woke Misogynist Sliding Right On Into Your DMs.” If men truly want to fight the good fight, they must be willing to adapt their beliefs and open their ears to what we have to say. Feminism is no place for stubborn pride.

    When pursuing any form of relationship, there are a few tell-tale signs to watch for that differentiate a true male-feminist from a toxic “woke misogynist.” For starters, pay attention to his sense of humor. Does he use sexist derogatory language, like “slut” or “bitch,” even as a joke? If you notice it to be a pattern, proceed with caution. These kinds of jokes, even if seemingly harmless, nurture aggressive patterns of thought and behavior.

Additionally, when men seek out our affection, we must pay attention not only to the message of their words but the language itself. Many male feminists attempt to empower women ineffectively. If a man seems to only compliment you by putting other women down, such as statements like “you’re not like other girls,” they are likely harboring some deep-seated misogyny. This behavior comes from the patriarchal mindset that there is only room for some good women, so in building one woman up, we must, in turn, let others fall. When we let men talk down to other women this way, we are normalizing this sort of mindset and perpetuating a culture of hostility.

In a world with far too much sexual violence, we must be increasingly careful with whom we are intimate. “Woke misogynists” will sometimes use their seemingly gentle exterior to coerce women into pushing their boundaries. This manipulation tactic is seen again and again in harassment and assault recounts. If a man seems to be using his reputation as “one of the good guys,” as an excuse for mistreatment for women, HE IS NOT A TRUE FEMINIST. No one gets a say in your personal boundaries except you.

Now, I’m not saying that all men are trash, but a #FEMINISM button pinned to a vintage Jansport sometimes just isn’t gonna cut it. We must be analytical of our male allies in order to maintain a positive direction for this movement. If we let “woke” men use their title as allies to refute their faults, they can not learn from their mistakes. So, a final message to all my feminist men out there: no one is too “woke” to listen, learn, and grow.



Rotstein, Adam . “Hey, It's Me, a Woke Misogynist Sliding Right On Into Your DMs.” McSweeney's Internet Tendency, McSweeney's Publishing LLC., 30 Nov. 2017.