Nowadays, practically everyone knows what feminism is. Practically everyone vouches for it, rightfully condemns misogyny, and celebrates a potential future where gender discrimination for all genders – whether between men, women, and other nonbinary genders – have completely been eradicated. We owe this propagation of feminist virtues in the 21st century, in part (but not completely), to the Internet – as with most things, the online world was mildly responsible for spreading feminist rhetoric and convincing most younger generations that casual sexism and misogyny can no longer reign. And popularizing feminist discourse is very much a good thing – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with it’s own fair share of negative consequences.
Nowadays, everyone is logged onto the internet. They have social media and mobile apps by Malaysia mobile app developers, like news media apps and other social platforms, installed onto their phones; making it much easier for many things, like feminism for example, to spread among the digital generation. But the heavy normalization of feminism on the Internet has given rise to a more negative branch of the discourse – i.e. ‘performative feminism’.
For those who are unaware, ‘performative feminism’ falls under the topic of ‘performative activism’ – as it’s name suggests, it is a type of feminism that is merely performative. In other words, a performative feminist is one who says they are a feminist, will openly encourage feminism, and will often fill their Twitter or Tumblr feeds with demands of change, without actually doing anything else to really promote said change. These people can be anyone, influential or not – from celebrities who openly endorse feminism, to brands who tout similar feminist rhetoric, to only the best mobile app development companies in Malaysia who constantly shout ‘gender equality!’ on their social media on top of telling you to ‘visit us for mobile app development companies Malaysia’. No one’s saying that these are necessarily bad things – in fact, encouraging feminism is an excellent first step to achieving actual gender equality. But that’s where the troubles begin – it is only a first step.
Most of the time, performative activists are those who start and end with just that ‘first step’. They will encourage feminism, demand gender equality on the Internet, and may wear shirts outside proudly with the words ‘I support feminism’ on it for all to see. But feminism – and indeed, all types of activism – is not just about vocal support; it’s about actually doing things, contributing to a practical effort, that can move things along towards actual gender equality. If you think about it, you can write in your bios and Twitter handles that you’re a ‘feminist’ all you want – but what good does that actually do in supporting gender equality? What else do you actually do to support the actual feminist effort, other than flaunting to the world that you apparently ‘are’ one?
In the end, performative feminism is like starting a race but never finishing it. The first step is great, but you need further effort, further steps and momentum, to actually carry the spiel past the finishing line. Do not just shout ‘gender equality!’ from the rooftops and be done with it – shout it while actually doing something that helps. Below are some good steps into actually promoting gender equality – but remember: they, too, are only steps. Do more research, continue to evolve with the times, and we might actually get somewhere rather than a trendy new media thing:
Search Yourself For Internal Biases
This is likely the most difficult thing to accomplish on this list. No one likes to admit that they have internal biases – but most of the time, we do. Yes, women are not exempt from this either. Growing up in a world that promotes implicit sexism means that we, however unknowingly, also internalize these implicit biases; and these can manifest in seemingly innocuous acts or comments that are actually secretly misogynistically charged. No one expects you to find and purge yourself of all your biases right away – the process is a life-long effort. But you’re only really a ‘feminist’ when you continue to try.
Stick Up For And Promote Feminist Voices
This is especially true for cisgender men who, however much they didn’t really think about it, did in fact grow up mostly benefiting from the gender bias. That’s not to say that men do not suffer their fair share of hardships under gender stereotypes (e.g. toxic masculinity being but one example), but in cases where your inherent male privilege can be leveraged to help someone else, use it! If a woman is being harassed or not being taken seriously in a male-dominated workplace, or if one of your friends (yes; your friends are not exempt, either) makes an offhand casually sexist comment or joke, call them out. Teach those who can be better to be better, and teach those who don’t that their actions will not be tolerated. But most of all, even when sticking up for others, do not let your voice drown out theirs. Lift up their unheard voices, and support them in that way rather than talking over them (this is not only true for men with women, but also cis women with trans women, and white women with women of color). Because if you tout your own kind of feminist rhetoric and end up drowning out the voices of people who desperately want to be heard, you are not helping anyone – least of all them.
Promoting actual gender equality is incredibly difficult, especially since we’ve spent so long in a world that was so casually sexist with no consequence. But with a little time and effort, we can prevent ‘performative’ feminism – and move on to actual feminism instead.