1. You Defend Problematic Women
Defending problematic women in the name of feminism simply because they are women makes it harder for people to see the validity in other points regarding feminist issues. When you are a fake feminist defending those fake feminist terms, take a step back and be open-minded to see some other perspectives.
THE SOLUTION: BE OPEN-MINDED AND ADMIT WHEN STUFF IS PROBLEMATIC
2. You Generalize All Experiences
When you generalize the experiences of all women, you dismiss the fact that every woman has different experiences which inform their identity, their struggles, and understanding of what it means to be a woman. Instead of generalizing, take note of intersectionality.
Intersectionality is the recognition of how every person has different parts to her identity, and these different social identities contain different struggles that are interconnected and cannot be seen separately from one another.
Identities are complex! A woman’s experiences with discrimination definitely extend past sexism (e.g. racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, and so much more). Their experiences will not be the same due to differences in race, class, and much more— and these differences have a huge impact on their experiences as women.
THE SOLUTION: ACKNOWLEDGE INTERSECTIONAL IDENTITIES AND THE DIFFERENCES AMONGST THE EXPERIENCES OF DIFFERENT WOMEN
3. You Believe Your Way Is The “Right” Way
There is no “right” way! Being a feminist means knowing and emphasizing the fact that women are free to make their own choices— as long as they aren’t hurting anybody. Take nude selfies for example— saying that a woman is less of a feminist for posting naked pictures of herself makes you a fake feminist because you are tearing her down for loving her body and posting about it. A woman should be living her best life, and other women should be praising them for doing just that! The amount of clothing you wear does not equate to how great of a feminist you are. Instead, doing what you want and telling people what to do determines how great of a feminist you are!
You’re also a fake feminist if you expect a woman to openly discuss her identity with you and/or others in the name of feminism and education. By telling somebody that it is their civic “duty” or “obligation” to discuss parts of their life, identity, and experiences in hopes that it will educate others is exploitative. Nobody “owes” you their life story and forcing women to “inspire” others is counterproductive, not to mention that it puts a lot of pressure on them! Let a woman do whatever the hell she wants. Don’t force somebody to speak up until they are ready and until they decide that they even want to do that. Don’t shame a woman for being a “quiet” feminist and let her live.
In a world where we are trying to teach young girls that they can do whatever they set their heart to, let’s encourage them to do whatever the hell they want at whatever pace they need to do it at.
THE SOLUTION: DON’T TELL PEOPLE WHAT TO DO!
4. You Speak On Behalf of Other Women
Sometimes, listening is just as effective as speaking. Your perspective is not the only one that exists, and if anything, their experience will inform your understanding and perspective, only to make it fuller and richer. Actively listening to somebody’s experiences is so important and vital to understanding their raw experiences. They have trusted you enough to talk to you about something as important as you know, their identity… so listen up!
THE SOLUTION: LISTEN UP!
5. You Capitalize On Embarrassment and Shame
Being a feminist means you advocate for equality. Believe me when I say, I’ve met my fair share of rude pigs (this is an understatement) who don’t believe in gender equality, but that doesn’t mean “men are trash.” I know a ton of allies who don’t identify as women, who also firmly believe in the importance of women’s rights and feminism. So don’t shame people, and maybe try to combat ignorance with education. Have respectful discussions, speak your mind, actively listen to the experiences of others, and perhaps everybody’s understanding of gender equality will benefit from these respectful discussions. It’s far more productive to lift our women up, as opposed to tearing others down.
THE SOLUTION: COMBAT IGNORANCE WITH HEALTHY AND RESPECTFUL DISCUSSIONS
Maybe you’re feeling a little defensive because you do these things, but sometimes feeling defensive reaffirms the fact that you meant no harm and/or didn’t know.
Feminism is so complex. And everybody has their own way of being a feminist based on their own experiences. There aren’t too many ways to “do it wrong,” other than failing to be open-minded enough to see the validity and complexity in a variety of experiences.
At the end of the day, you gotta let people live their best life. Don’t dismiss their problems and treat them all the same. Don’t tell them what to do or how to act. Don’t speak on behalf of them. Listen to them. Appreciate them. Believe in gender equality and don’t be afraid to express so, in whatever way you please.