This piece by Nona Willis Aronowitz, "Meet the Woke Misogynist," is very good, and will probably be validating for a number of people who spend time in this community.
Now that feminism has become more fashionable, it's harder to tell who our true allies are. Self-proclaimed male feminists are everywhere, from dating apps to Silicon Valley to Hollywood. Many men now want to be equal partners and parents. They believe a woman should be president and they follow Kamala Harris on Twitter. They would never dream of saying indisputably sexist things in public. Many male feminists are genuine, even if they're not perfect. They will try and sometimes fail on their way to enlightenment. We care about the men in our lives, so we are happy to explain what they've done wrong. We will gently chide our guy friends for objectifying their female lovers or about how their favorite films don't pass the Bechdel test.The larger point is, of course, that there are plenty of men who have realized that purporting to be feminist gets them lots of cookies and access to women, whose trust they can then exploit.
And they'll usually listen, because being a male feminist is admirable. Being a male feminist can even get you laid.
It's an old racket under a new mantle: Insinuate yourself as someone who cares, someone who is special, and use the good faith you've been afforded to make your victims doubt themselves when you inevitably abuse them, and then exploit that carefully cultivated doubt to protect yourself from accountability.
It is a timeworn pattern of predators. They have insinuated themselves under the banner of The Good Stepfather, The Caring Priest, The Cool Teacher, The Family Values Politician, and on and on. The Male Feminist is just the latest iteration.
And the problem, of course, is that there are good stepfathers and caring priests and cool teachers and family values politicians who aren't secretly having affairs. There are also male feminists who don't treat feminism as a rap for progressive pick-up artists.
Which is why it's not always evident, right away or ever until the abuse starts, that these guys are wearing a mask.
The takeaways from that are:
1. It isn't your fault if you get taken in by a predator who's wearing the mask of male feminist.
2. Trust your instincts. If you see red flags, heed them. You don't owe anyone your trust, especially if they haven't earned it. And a male feminist who doesn't feel like he has to earn your trust is sending up a big red flag. Other common red flags with predators wearing the mask of male feminist are: Using the fixed state ally model and showing a lack of deference to women's actual lived experiences, in order to position themselves as an expert on womanhood.
3. Beware the self-proclaimed male feminist who seems more inclined to say he's a feminist than show he's one. As I've said before: I don't know if any of my closest male friends, including my husband, have ever said: "I'm a feminist." If they have, it's been rare enough that I don't remember it. They don't have to say it. They show me, by making themselves trustworthy and practicing feminism, every day.