I am wary of self-proclaimed “feminist” men.
I have seen them too many times, they come crawling out of the woodwork every time we raise a feminist issue: “I am pro female liberation!” “I reject patriarchal structures, so I cheat on my partner regularly!”, “let me make it all about my penis!” Shit, I even prefer your garden-variety sexist (I am egalitarian! That’s why every time there is a discussion of how to reduce rape and assault, I am gone to use male rape survivors as a bludgeon to make women shut up! Privilege isn’t real, I am unemployed!). These attitudes are depressingly common in feminist circles, and they are part of the terrible trend of privileged people stomping in anti-sexist, anti-racist, and social justice spaces to steal the spotlight and make everything about them. (By the way, white feminists, we are also guilty of that.)
However, there is another type of deep-cover sexists. The know-it-alls. They are the ones who claim to have read Žižek and Adorno (but, of course, they have not read a single female author), the ones whose mouth will fill with words at the mention of feminism and its intersection with anarchism and will explain everything to you, conveniently dumbed down to be understood by your female brain. The “let me lecture you about how you are not a real feminist because you wear lipstick”, or affirm that any woman who has undergone aesthetic surgery is just a pornified sexbot. They will dictate queer theory without as much talking to an actual queer person.
These attitudes, let me emphasize it, are a HUGE red flag. Not only is erasing the actual oppressed members of the feminist and queer communities, but too often their words are accompanied by predatory actions. I have met too many women who tell the story of how the same guy tried to make out with them while they were unconscious or drunk out of their minds. I have met too many men who have berated women for not sleeping with them, for not being “liberated” enough. Too many men in the feminist circles with a harassment history who claim that every woman who raises their voice to dennounce them have just misunderstood his intentions.
All the situations mentioned before are real and have happened either to me or to people close to me. So yeah, I am careful around too loud feminist men. I’m not saying that men cannot be good feminists or good allies, but we should always let actions speak louder than words.
Words by Esther Nelke
Illustration by Judy Mièl