Fem-Baiting: When Empathy Becomes Exploitation

Fem-bait-ing: noun – The act of a man creating content that is disguised as understanding and empathizing with feminine issues in order to earn women’s approval for personal gain. But why, oh why, do some folks feel the need to don the feminist cape when it suits them? Is it for the Instagram likes? The Twitter retweets? Or perhaps just a sneaky attempt to land a date? In today’s blog, we’ll dissect this peculiar behaviour further. And while we may never know for sure, one thing’s for certain – it’s time to call out these performances for what they are: a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Grab a glass of wine, and let’s dive in…

Breaking Down the Anatomy of Fem-Baiting

Picture this: A guy who’s never had to worry about societal expectations regarding appearance suddenly becomes a self-proclaimed authority on body positivity, shouting from the social rooftops that he loves stretch marks and cellulite but you come to find he exclusively likes airbrushed photos of Instagram models. Or a dude who just discovered Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk decides he’s the new face of feminism. Suddenly, he’s quoting Bell Hooks and retweeting Gloria Steinem like there’s no tomorrow. But ask him to name three policies that could improve maternal healthcare, and you’ll be met with a deer-in-headlights stare. Or perhaps, a fella who couldn’t locate the clitoris with a map and a flashlight suddenly fancies himself a feminist icon, discussing period pains like he’s an honorary member of the menstrual cycle. It’s the equivalent of a man simply putting on a pair of heels and declaring himself an expert on the perils of wearing stilettos. It’s like watching a toddler don a superhero cape and proclaim themselves the defender of truth and justice, or like watching a pigeon try to play chess – amusing, yet ultimately futile.

These fem-baiters are like chameleons, changing their colors to blend in with whatever feminist cause is currently en vogue. One minute, they’re championing body positivity, the next they’re mansplaining why the gender pay gap is just a myth. It’s like they’ve cracked the code to Pandora’s box of likes, shares, and DM slides. Suddenly, they becomes the poster boy for progressive masculinity, championing causes they never even knew existed until it became Instagram-worthy. It’s enough to make your eyes roll so far back into your head, you might just see your own brain. But for the men out there, it’s important you understand why fem-baiting is such a prevalent issue, and why it strikes a nasty chord with so many women

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that genuine empathy and understanding are crucial components of any discourse surrounding gender issues and/or equality. Men should actively participate in conversations about women’s rights, and their support is invaluable in dismantling patriarchal structures. However, fem-baiting diverges from authentic allyship by its insincerity and opportunistic nature. Moreover, fem-baiting perpetuates harmful stereotypes and reinforces gender norms. By commodifying women’s experiences for personal gain, these creators contribute to the objectification and trivialization of women’s struggles. It reduces complex issues to mere marketing tools, exploiting genuine pain and suffering for clicks, likes, and shares.

But perhaps the most insidious aspect of fem-baiting is its impact on women’s trust and empowerment. When men co-opt feminist rhetoric to advance their own agendas, it undermines the credibility of genuine feminist voices. It creates a sense of disillusionment and skepticism, making it harder for women to discern genuine allies from opportunistic actors.

Spotting the Signs: Are You Being Fem-Baited?

Oh, but you didn’t think I’d let you swim through these murky waters without a trusty life raft of advice, did you? I have devised a foolproof fem-baiting detection kit just for you…

  1. First up, watch out for the “I’m not like other guys” proclamation. It’s the mating call of the fem-baiter, signaling his supposed uniqueness in a sea of toxic masculinity. Spoiler alert: he’s usually exactly like other guys, just with better vocabulary.
  2. The Virtue-Signaling Viking: Those who proclaim their unwavering support for feminist causes from the mountaintops but conveniently vanish when it’s time for tangible action, like confronting their buddies about their sexist jokes or behaviors. Their commitment to the cause may be as flimsy as a paper umbrella in a storm, and their vocal allyship often masks a startling lack of commitment beyond performative gestures.
  3. Then there’s the “I love women” monologue, complete with a dramatic pause for effect. Sure, buddy, we all love women – some of us enough to actually listen to them without interrupting.
  4. The Empathy Imposter: Watch out for those who claim to understand the struggles of womanhood with all the authenticity of a cardboard cutout. Their empathy may be as genuine as a knock-off Rolex.
  5. The “I Have Lots of Female Friends” Brag: Beware of those who boast about their extensive roster of female friends as if it’s a badge of honor. Quantity doesn’t equal quality, and having female friends doesn’t automatically make you a feminist ally.
  6. And who could forget the classic move of centering himself in conversations about women’s issues. It’s akin to crashing a wedding to deliver a monologue about one’s own romantic conquests – tone-deaf and utterly misplaced. Sit down, buddy, you’re not the star of this show.
  7. The “I’m a Feminist, But…”: Keep an eye out for those who preface their statements with “I’m all for equality, but…” before launching into a diatribe about why feminism is unnecessary. It’s like saying “I’m pro-education, but let’s go burn down the library.”

Fem-baiting may be a catchy term, but let’s call it what it really is – faux feminism at its finest. So, to all the fem-baiters out there, we have a simple message: Stop it. Just stop. We see through your thinly veiled attempts to win us over, and frankly, we’re not buying it. If you want to be an ally to the cause, great! But leave the performative activism at the door and actually put in the work to understand and support women’s rights. Until next time, my loves, stay cheeky, stay woke, and never underestimate the power of a well-timed eye roll.

P.S – And before I have an army of disgruntled gentlemen pounding on the metaphorical door, I always like to see both sides of the coin so next week, I’ll be doing a piece on Toxic Femininity ( yes, it’s most definitely a thing… ) Stay tuned for that !

HJF for First Rounds On Me

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Hannah Glasby

Hannah Glasby

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