10 Tell-Tale Signs You're Dealing With A Fake Male Feminist

Fake feminism (or pseudo feminism as it is sometimes also called) is the process of faking your support for the movement rather than really truly believing in the cause. Sadly, too many people have experienced the fakery, usually with cis men who label themselves as feminists when they don't actually support the movement.


All too often, this practice is done with ulterior motives. As noted by The Guardian, it rears its head in the dating world in particular, where, Kate Iselin writes, men usually fall into "one of two categories." There are those who pretend to relate to feminism in order to rid themselves of patriarchal guilt, and those who use the movement as a facade in order to attract, and disrespect, women. 

The latter is actually part of a process coined by Vice as "wokefishing," whereby men pretend to support feminism to attract women but then attempt to gain dominance over them. Fake male feminists have become so common that the concept has even been parodied on mainstream TV. In fact, back in 2017, "Saturday Night Live" aired a sketch titled "Girl At A Bar" in which a faux feminist man was removed from a bar after boasting their fake beliefs to pick up women.


But how on earth do you know if a cis man is actually a genuine feminist or if there's something much more sinister going on? Women.com has you covered with all the tell-tale signs you need to look out for.

Real feminists' words will match their actions

One of the best ways to find out if you're dealing with a fake feminist is to compare their words to their actions. Anyone can talk the talk and spew a few buzzwords, but only those who are truly invested in a cause will walk the walk, too. "If you want to know if someone is an ally or a fake feminist, pay more attention to their actions than their words. If you feel you are being undermined or disrespected by their actions or microaggressions but they protest otherwise, you are right to be wary," author Nichi Hodgson explained to Glamour.


If the man in question claims to be a feminist but doesn't attend feminist marches or isn't proactive in helping the cause for equality (by raising awareness of issues like the gender pay gap or the #MeToo movement), that probably means your suspicions are correct. Equally, if he's always boasting about his liberal beliefs but he never puts in the work to learn how to do better when it comes to his treatment of women, that's another sign this person is not a true feminist.

Fake feminists make women feel inferior

In some cases, a fake feminist will do the most to try to convince you that they care, which will likely be to your detriment. True feminists are usually happy to meet someone with the same beliefs as them and will want to support and encourage you — not put you down. So, if you're around a fake feminist, you may find that they try to insinuate (or even flat-out state) they're more educated on the subject with you, even if they aren't. "An ally will never try and explain feminism to you, or claim they know more about it, even if they are well-read or researched," Nichi Hodgson told Glamour.


The same goes for a man who doesn't ever truly praise a woman on her successes, particularly in the workplace. If you find the man in question regularly tries to downplay the accomplishments of the women around him, maybe suggesting they only got there with a man's help, that's something to think about. 

Similarly, if you find this man is constantly speaking over you and won't give you the opportunity to get your opinions across in conversations, or he's always speaking down to you by mansplaining even the most basic of concepts, he's probably not the feminist he wants you to think he is.

Genuine feminists aren't only interested in the movement when they can benefit from it

A man who's only pretending to support feminism will probably only use the concept when he can personally get something out of it. For example, if you're asking him to pull his weight around the home when it comes to things like chores but he responds by telling you that you should do it all to prove you're a strong, independent woman — that's obviously not a true feminist. If he only ever mentions the movement when he has something to gain or he's encouraging you to do something you don't want to do, be very wary. 


This also goes for men who don't discuss their feminist beliefs in front of other men or large groups. If he's out with the guys and one of them makes a sexist comment he laughs at, or he fails to call them out about what they've said, he's not a genuine feminist. We get it: sometimes it's tough to be the only one speaking out for an important cause, but the only way we can ever really make societal change is by educating those around us about why their words and actions are so harmful.

Their take on gender roles is skewed

Fake male feminists may outwardly claim they're progressive and support the idea of women's liberation, but they'll only have open-minded opinions on gender roles if they truly back the cause to the core. For example, a fake male feminist may outwardly share their liberal thoughts that it's a woman's own choice what she does with her life, but when it really comes down to it, they may still speak or think negatively about women who choose to stay childless or never marry. 


Equally, they may (consciously or subconsciously) have traditional beliefs when it comes to the division of labor in the household. If they're still living in the dark ages and gender stereotyping by claiming there are certain things men should do (like take out the trash) and certain things women should do (like cooking or childcare) they're clearly not progressive enough to truly support the feminist movement.

To learn more about how they truly feel, try asking about their thoughts on gender roles. Or, if you're close with their family or friends, try asking them about what they're really like behind the scenes. If you decide to go directly to them, try not to be too accusatory (everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, after all!) but remember a true feminist will know that there's nothing wrong with a woman taking on traditional gender roles or not — as long as it's her choice to do so.


Real feminists don't support fake feminists ... or misogynists

If the man you're questioning still consumes media created by people who are famously outspoken in not supporting feminism, that could be a red flag. Of course, everyone deserves redemption and almost everyone has said something they don't mean at one time or another. However, if the creator of the media (from books, to movies, to TV shows) they consume is unapologetically misogynistic, still supporting their work is a likely sign that the person you're questioning isn't as progressive as they want you to believe.


The same goes for the company they keep. While we can't be held totally responsible for the behavior of others, if the guy you're a little suspicious about has a close circle of friends you know aren't exactly staunch supporters of feminism — but he continues to hang around with them without educating them — chances are he may actually share their beliefs. After all, you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep!

He thinks comparing you to other women is okay

Though things are changing, traditionally, being a woman can feel like a constant competition against other women -– whether it's for jobs or relationships. If the man you're questioning intentionally or otherwise pits women against one another, that's not a good thing. One specific example to look out for? A man who compares the appearances of a group of women when he's out and thinks it's okay to tell you which one he finds most attractive.


But don't think all comparisons will come across as being glaringly negative – fake feminists may actually use this tactic but frame it as a compliment. One of the most common ways you may see this happening (right in front of your eyes) is if a man tells you that you're not like other women or you're more mature than other girls your age. Though it may sound like a positive thing on the surface, in reality, it's still planting the seed of competition between women — and that's something a genuine feminist should never do. Women aren't inanimate objects to be compared and pitted against one another. We're all unique and beautiful in our own ways.

A genuine feminist should be into more than just your appearance

A genuine feminist will be more interested in your personality than your appearance. We know, it's nice to be complimented on the way you look from time to time. And a man noticing you look amazing (because you do!) isn't always a bad thing. But if you feel like the man you're questioning is only ever focused on what you look like and not on your intelligence or your personality, then those alarm bells that started ringing are probably right on the money.


Just like the way many fake feminists pit women against one another, often without women even realizing it, this too could come across as a compliment — so you'll want to look carefully for it. A man may say things like he loves the fact that you don't (or do!) wear a lot of makeup or you don't feel the need to dress up all the time, but if he doesn't balance it out with words about other things like your generosity or kindness, he's unlikely to be the feminist he claims. After all, you're more than just the way you look, and how you choose to present yourself is for you to decide — not for someone else to influence.

Being a feminist is not about being right all the time

If you're genuinely interested in feminism and believe in the cause, being right about everything to do with the subject probably isn't going to be your ultimate goal. After all, part of being involved in the movement is about constantly learning and finding new ways to show your support. For a faux feminist, though? They'll probably go to any extent to prove they know their stuff (even if they don't) and will be determined to be proven right no matter what the situation.


That usually comes down to control, and there are a few ways you may be able to tell you're in the presence of someone who's merely using feminism for their own gain instead of really embracing it. A fake feminist could be persistent in trying to win every argument, regardless of the situation. The person in question will likely also be quick to shift the blame to someone else if they're ever called out over something, and will likely also show the tell-tale signs of insecurity. 

Beware of the feminism introduction

In dating situations, many men introduce themselves as feminists or put the term on their dating profile — but there can be a few issues with that. For one, it can be rare for genuine feminists to feel the need to shout about their beliefs. All feminists should be proud, but if they're a little too vocal, that can often be a sign of wokefishing (when a person uses woke terms to attract someone, but doesn't actually believe in them). One way to test out if someone means what they tell you early on? Give them the benefit of the doubt, but see if they mention those views naturally in conversation as time goes on. If they don't, they were probably never serious to begin with.


Equally, if someone's putting out their views so boldly on their profile, they should be proudly displaying it elsewhere too, right? Doing a social media check should give you a better idea of if they really have a deep affiliation with the cause, or if it's just a buzzword to them. In fact, Twitter user @annnalog actually found out about their love interest's true beliefs by checking out their TikTok likes! "If you realize someone's actions aren't living up to what they've put on their dating profile, they aren't practicing what they preach and might have just been jumping on the bandwagon of a hashtag for the sake of it," Plenty of Fish employee Kate MacLean told Dazed.

Beware of the uber defensive feminist

One of the best ways to really get to the bottom of if someone is a sincere feminist or a faux one is to sit down and talk to them about it. Presuming this is someone you trust and want to keep in your life, having a frank conversation can only improve your relationship and help them better understand their behavior. Think of a few examples of things they've done that made you question if they're truly practicing what they preach, then explain how it made you feel. "You can presume best intent — i.e. perhaps they are not willfully trying to undermine you — but that their actions affect you all the same. If you can suggest what you would prefer them to do, that's also helpful," Nichi Hodson explained to Glamour.


How they react to this candid conversation will likely tell you everything you need to know. If the man you're suspicious about gets angry and starts to vehemently defend himself but doesn't make an effort to change the behavior (knowing it made you uncomfortable), you'll know he was never a genuine feminist to begin with. Those who feel a deep connection to feminism and are sincerely furthering the cause won't need your approval. But if he's willing to talk through your concerns and offers genuine explanations for your examples while also making a concerted effort to do better, you've likely got a bona fide feminist in your life.