I write today to warn you of a trap. A trap that I have fallen into, one that I will probably fall into again, so I need to keep a watchful eye.
I call myself a feminist. I believe in ending sexism.
The primary way I have “supported” feminism in the past has been to share knowing looks with others around me who I respect, who I feel understand feminism. I have made jokes which are intended to show that I understand privilege, power, and inequality. I have shown women that I understand by conversing with them about glass floors and ceilings, pick-up artists, chivalry, and unsafety at night.
But you know who doesn’t need to hear about feminism? Feminists.
My main motivation for discussing feminism has been to prove myself, to show that I am in the know, that I understand and support feminism. But I haven’t been supporting feminism, because I haven’t talked to any non-feminists about it! My jokes are disguised (not intentionally, but this is how it turns out on reflection) to reveal that I know to those who know, and be simply perplexing who don’t. I’m not being an ally, I’m being a suck-up.
The truth is, even though I still have much to learn, even though I’ve been a phony, I do know more about feminism than most men. Any man who has the guts to call himself a feminist does, even if he is a little bit of a phony.
I am taking the next step by believing in myself. I don’t need to prove to anyone else that I’m a feminist for their approval. I need to speak up to those who don’t understand. I need to explain feminism and show that I care, not that I know, to people who don’t. I need to stand up for women especially when women aren’t around. Feminism isn’t a pick-up line.
Avoid the trap! Be loud and clear with me! When we are least likely to be approved of, say I am a feminist!