So...You Think You're a Feminist?

So…you think you’re a feminist? Maybe you’d like to be one. Maybe you’ve spent a large chunk of your life admiring all the women who have stepped forward, and proudly claimed the title—even despite the controversy. Maybe you’re one of the women whose internalized misogyny prevents them from every associating with the feminist movement. There might even be a chance you’re one of the toxic men who only value feminists’ bodies, rather than feminist politics.  In the era of liberal mentalities, female empowerment, and sexual liberation, men have begun to catch-on to the popularization and glamorization of feminist values, and, not surprisingly, these same men have adopted this feminist sex-positivity and wage equality to their own advantage—sexual conquests and otherwise.  Though I’d love to reduce men to simple mindedness and stupidity, when it comes to sex, male energy becomes the spokesman of clever cunningness. But these men aren’t alone, fake feminists come in all shapes and sizes (women and non-binary folks included). And while I am an avid believer that the feminist movement should be all inclusive, we must still work to correct any subtly or overtly anti-feminist behaviors, otherwise “feminism” will always be viewed as a logically-inconsistent, morally contradictory movement, with irreparable flaws.  So how do you, as a staunch feminist, spot the fake fans? Here are some tips in your investigative pursuits. 

They claim to be a feminist, but continue to slut-shame women.  If your feminist beliefs are dependent on but’s and except for’s, chances are your feminism is defective. At its core, feminism is the support of a woman’s right to choose, whether or not you agree with their choice. Though I am not suggesting every woman or man who claims the title of “feminist,” has to encourage premarital sex or radical kinks, what I am suggesting is every feminist can and should value a woman’s bodily autonomy. I mean, slut-shaming, in this economy? Couldn’t get you laid, no matter how hard you tried. 

They disrespect women they’re romantically dating  I once dated a man who proudly claimed the label of “feminist.” Too bad he was the King of Gaslighting, and spent the majority of our turbulent 11 month relationship being emotionally and mentally abusive towards me (a woman). Even after our relationship, he was standing up girls on dates and sleeping with women and never calling them again. Part of being a feminist, undeniably, is treating any and all women with the respect they deserve, which yes, involves being a respectful romantic interest. 

They only respect women they’re sexually attracted to Of course it’s easy to be kind and courteous to people you want to have sex with. Any man can open a door or pay for a meal for someone they’re sexually attracted to. What’s the real challenge is applying that same respect and courtesy to the women, you have no sexual intentions with. A friendly reminder to all you fake male feminists out there, women are more than sexual play toys. They were not born to be your sexual servant. Thus, you should do selfless acts of kindness, not just acts of kindness that will earn you brownie points in the bedroom later. 

They ignore female sexual pleasure  Returning to the example of my less than pleasant ex, you can’t be a feminist, and ignore a woman’s sexual needs. Remember, disrespect isn’t black or white, but comes in a spectrum of colors (including the 50 shades of gray of ignoring your female partner’s orgasm). 

They contribute to women-hating culture  If the words, “you’re not like other girls” leaves their mouth, they are not (repeat not) a ”real” feminist. Other punishable coined phrases of anti-feminists include (but are not limited to): “girls are drama,” “I don’t get along with other women,” or “I’m just one of the bros.” Support femininity in any way you can. Don’t demonize innocent women, and certainly don’t stigmatize spending time with your fellow girl gangs. 

Their feminism isn’t intersectional  If your feminism is stuck in the second wave, and only advancing the interests of upper-middle class white, cis women, then you need to do some reevaluating. It’s like calling yourself fashionable, but still wearing low rise jeans. Update your fashion already, get your style (and your feminism) up-to-date. Support women of color, queer women, and trans women in all your feminist efforts. 

They call attention to their feminist beliefs at every given opportunity (in an annoying and unproductive way).  Nothing says turn-off like a man constantly announcing he’s a feminist. We get it. You support women—gold star for bare-minimum human decency. Unfortunately for all you men whose opening lines start with feminist banter, I refuse to reward you (sexually or otherwise) for simply believing in the equality of genders, especially when men so often use feminism as a form of sexual currency. A popular delusion is that you can quote Judith Butler, instantly claim your prize of a round of applause and a coupon for a free blow job. SURPRISE, women, especially feminists, have higher standards for their romantic interests. Plus, don’t forget, that if you have to remind everyone that you’re a feminist, chances are you’re just insecure about your standing in the feminist community, or worse, you’re using a political platform for ulterior (and manipulative) motives. 

While it’s important to recognize these signs, despite popular belief, these tips and tricks to sniffing out “fake feminists,” aren’t intended to strip people of their feminist identities. Instead this exhaustive list is only to serve as a looking glass and time of reflection into our feminism. Even the most confident of feminists may be guilty of one or more of these offenses. Much like I mentioned earlier, feminism, like any other identity group is made for imperfect people, but must be a group devoted to progress. 

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