By this point, most of us are probably familiar with Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) – they’re the men (and a handful of women) who believe that all of men’s problems can be blamed on the rise of feminism, when in reality, they can be traced directly to the patriarchy feminism fights.
Cracked did a great article on Men’s Rights Activists, but there is another type of man who is almost worse. This type of man understands white privilege. In fact, this type of man actually calls himself a feminist. He might believe in fighting the pay gap. He calls himself “pro-choice” (more on that in a bit). This type of man takes women’s issues to the voting booth. But this type of man isn’t a feminist and he is far more dangerous than your run-of-the-mill MRA because you might believe him.
I call this man a faux-minist. He is in no way a feminist. His goal isn’t to listen to women and help make their lives better. A faux-minist will tell you how your life can be made better and boy will he feel good about himself.
A faux-minist might charm you with his tales of solidarity and he himself might even believe that he really believes them, but in reality, he’s only trying to get into your pants or he’s trying to out-feminist you just for the sake of winning an argument. So, how does an educated feminist avoid a charming faux-minist? Here are the signs, but keep in mind that you should never confront a faux-minist. They will do everything in their power to defend their identity of superhero feminist. You have to outsmart them and fortunately, that’s easy.
10. He is VERY concerned about slut shaming – Slut shaming is a problem at least as old as the Bible. Cultures have slut shamed everything from showing too much ankle to sleeping with men we aren’t married to. It needs to stop. That being said, it’s far from the only way women are being shamed.
Faux-minists do hate slut shaming, but only when very attracted women are the ones made to feel shame. They generally have no problem fat shaming or shaming a woman for covering too much or for not dressing up.
Mention that a skimpy outfit you see might look good on an overweight friend. See how the man reacts. If it’s anything but positive, he is just as guilty of shaming as the slut shamers he rails against.
9. He is pro-choice, his choice – Many men are fine with abortions. A faux-minist, though, will take the issue very personally. He will brag that if he gets a woman pregnant, he will be there for her and the baby, even if they never marry. All he asks in return is that he’s made part of the decision as to whether she keeps the baby.
That doesn’t sound too terrible, does it? Many feminists would involve the father in a decision like that. The difference is that when you push a faux-minist on the issue, he almost always comes out on the side of the man having to have a choice in the matter.
A true feminist realizes that as much as the man wants to be involved, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s the woman who spends nine months getting fat, growing varicose veins and all the other unpleasantries that go with being pregnant. If a woman chooses not to go through that, no one should be able to override that choice, not even the father of the baby.
8. He won’t hold a door open or pay for a date – I’m all about equality, even with doors and paying for dates. I hold doors open for people. It’s just the right thing to do. As for dates, I’m of the school that whoever asks should pay. That being said, women still make 77 cents to a man’s dollar. If you are dating a man who believes equality means treating you like he might treat his buddies, he’s a faux-minist, or maybe just a jerk. They can be hard to tell apart.
7. As hard as he’s tried, he sees nothing wrong with catcalling – This one gets to the crux of faux-minism. Faux-minists, unlike actual male feminists, are incapable of a.) putting themselves in a woman’s shoes (figuratively, of course) and b.) acknowledging that there might be aspects of patriarchy that can only be seen from women’s eyes.
Most men will never understand why catcalling can be anything from annoying to humiliating to frightening. I’ll admit that I’ve occasionally been flattered by compliments from strangers, but catcalls are something different. Catcalls are intrusive and inconsiderate.
The thinking is this: Men are entitled to their own thoughts, women are not. If our thoughts are too serious and it shows on our faces, we’re told to smile. We might be dressed in our most powerful interview suit, practicing interview answers in our heads, only to be told that our ass looks great in that skirt.
The real problem with catcalling, though, is that women were not put on this earth to amuse or entertain men.
6. He thinks that far too many men are falsely accused of rape – The difference between an MRA and a faux-minist on this one can be razor thin, but while MRAs might believe that women should be prosecuted if a rapist isn’t convicted, a faux-minist might opt for less severe penalties if any, but the fact remains that faux-minists will on one hand say that rape is a real problem, but they always know someone who was falsely accused and that is just as big a problem in their minds. The fact that 98% of rapists will never serve time in jail doesn’t sway them in the least.
5. He thinks that women are at least partially to blame for abuse if they don’t leave – Abusers tend to isolate their victims. They leave them without money, without friends and they take them away from their families. Leaving an abusive man is easier today than it was in the past, but it’s still not easy, especially if a woman still sees good in the man.
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.
4. He thinks that society is too PC, especially when it comes to issues like gender roles – If a woman loves pink (the color), dresses and six inch heels, that’s great – I love those things sometimes too. If a woman chooses to be a stay-at-home mom, that’s beautiful but if women aren’t given options, that’s when we have problems. Little girls have far fewer options than they did when most of us grew up. Girls’ toys come in one color – pink. Girls’ clothing is often hyper-sexualized at a very young age. It’s not PC to object to the fact that the only shorts available these days for a six-year-old barely cover her bottom. It’s a real concern for many.
3. He also thinks society is too PC in the workplace – If a woman wears a low-cut top, she wants her breasts to be admired, a faux-minist might say, completely ignoring that she might wear that top because it elongates her neckline.
Just like a faux-minist always knows men who have been falsely accused of rape, they know men who have lost their jobs or they know businesses who have closed because a man dared flirt. Listen, faux-minists, sexual harassment is VERY difficult to prove. Mere flirting is not sexual harassment. Your friends, if they exist, probably did horrible things to the women in the workplace.
2. Not all men – a faux-minist will repeat the mantra “not all men” in almost any discussion about feminism. A feminist man, on the other hand, will likely inventory his own behavior and accept that even if he can’t see it, there’s a possibility he’s blind to what women go through and that he benefits from male privilege.
1. He tells you what feminism is and isn’t – Feminism is as individual as a feminist. Women, like all people, tend to advocate for the issues that directly affect them or loved ones, or that they have personally witnessed. A faux-minist might tell you that you aren’t really a feminist if you don’t support his ideas of feminism, which again, have nothing to do with empathy for women.
Not all faux-minists are men. There are many women who call themselves feminists but believe that the only way for women to succeed is to both play by the rules established by men and to ignore thousands of years of deeply engrained sexual inequality. Female faux-minists are often trotted out as “proof” that “female victimhood” is a myth when they are instead the real victims.
Now, for the true male feminists. I know you don’t see this article as being about you, because it’s not. It is with you that we truly do stand in solidarity.
Featured image via Pixabay.