“If You’re Such a Feminist, Why Won’t You Show Me Your Boobs?”

The Hijacking of Feminist Language by Male “Allies” Reveals an Insidious Objective

Graphic Caity Hall

Some men have come to realize that showing their ‘‘feminine’’ side makes women swoon.

Mix some black nail polish, piercings, high-waisted pants with a tucked in shirt, and the ladies come running.

I want to say this phenomenon began with the rise of Zayn Malik, but that’s another point for another time.

Leaning into more feminine fashion has become increasingly popular among men, but leaning into the feminine has also been interpreted in a very different way.

Men have also begun dressing up in feminist language, presenting as allies to gain “activist points,” but then use this status and language as a tactic to manipulate and silence the women they’ve fooled.

When I was in high school, declaring yourself a feminist was met with unsavoury responses.

Using feminist language received eyerolls and loud sighs five years ago.

In CEGEP, the attitude changed: feminism was no longer taboo, it was celebrated.

I found a group of like-minded people, and I felt safe. Feminism provides a space and culture where a lot of women can feel safer.

Now that feminist language has broken into the mainstream, the feminist safe space is being infiltrated by men who are looking to take advantage.

Someone toxic can abuse people while acting as though they’re just trying to be a “good feminist.”

A survivor of this kind of abusive relationship shared their story with the Fourth Wave, a London based feminist activist group.

She explained that her setting her boundaries “triggered” her partner, but she would have to listen to his boundaries for hours on end.

She was expected to do so or else she would look like a “bad feminist.”

Her partner twisted the meanings of feminist teachings in order to get what he wanted.

He took advantage of her, sexually assaulted her, and incessantly put his own needs before hers.

After she left, her partner told her he hadn’t “consented” to a breakup and revoked consent to all of their previous sexual encounters.

He tried to convince her that the only way to right her wrongs was to get back together and “unrape” him.

Call it what you want: victim blaming, inverting the abuse, or gaslighting. These are all dangerous forms of manipulation that leave the survivors in a haze.

Using feminist words that are almost sacred to us, against us, turns everything upside down and makes you forget the difference between right and wrong.

It comes in degrees of severity, with high-level manipulation being top tier, really 10/10 stuff.

The victims of manipulation try to convince themselves that whatever they’re being accused of is true.

How could my partner be wrong when they speak just like me? I must have done something wrong if they’re using such strong language.

Low-level would be the kind of stuff you see on twitter account @SheRatesDogs, where women send in the unsettling DMs they receive.

Most notably among these, “if you’re a feminist, why won’t you show me your boobs?” and using “I brush my teeth” as a reason to get back together.

These tactics remind me of the early 2000s and the rise of pick-up artistry.

I remember guys from high school trying out their moves on the girls in our grade, it was cringey to witness and even worse to be on the receiving end of.

One guy told me that the reason he always asked for high-fives from girls was so he could look down their shirts through the armhole when they lifted their arm.

The same guy would stare at a girl’s upper lip to make her feel uncomfortable because it would look like he was staring at her boobs.

He was also the same guy who would get upset when the girl he liked ended up dating someone else.

Hijacking feminist language and playing the psuedo good guy is a tactic that uses women as pawns in spaces meant to be safe for them.

It’s unsettling to see women being used as a means to an end, with the end here being sexual satisfaction without regard for consequences or the humanity of the other.