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is faux-feminism better than no feminism?

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Feminism seems to have increased in its cool factor over the last few years. Gone are the days when the stereotypical feminist was a dowdy, sagging womyn, gnarled fist perpetually in the air.

Today, she’s anyone who wants to say she is one. She can be a stripper, a mother, a 16-year-old runaway or a Hollywood celebrity.

The definition of who a feminist is or the sorts of values she upholds has become less defined, less specific, a matter of personal choice and taste. But, the broader a definition is, the broader the range of people who will be able to relate to it. Even men are openly stating that they are feminists.

All positive stuff, right? The more people on board, the more power we have in spreading the message. So does it really matter how faithful a person is to the original tenets of feminism anymore? With all the celebrity endorsements, new pop-feminism seems to take on a kind of plastic commercialism. A faux feminism.

What is faux feminism anyway?

To me, it’s a difficult thing to pin down. A faux feminist is someone who openly states that they are a feminist, but doesn’t practice or uphold what feminism really is. But, this is getting problematic already. We know now that feminism’s definition has been broadened to such an extent that everyone has their own version of what it is. So how can that mean that there is such a thing as faux feminism when it’s so individualised?

There are some feminist fundamentals that we should implement and make staid just to have some clarity. Feminism is about ensuring equal opportunities and rights for both women and men. It’s about freeing women from discrimination and subjugation from men and patriarchal systems. If this is a part of an individual’s definition of feminism, then can they still be a faux feminist?

I don’t think so. Feminism today seems to be more about a declaration of self-empowerment rather than a declaration of a mission towards gender equality. Certainly this can and should be a part of their feminist world view, but when I see these celebrities like Beyonce, Lena Dunham and even Samantha Jones from Sex and the City declare themselves as feminists, I feel like it’s more about their character than the fundamental philosophy.

Having said that, simply being a woman who is empowered, independent or any other buzzword synonymous with feminism, does push tenets of feminism out into the world. They’re living their politics. It does encourage and open up discussion and insights into who is and isn’t and what is and isn’t feminist.

So, who is a faux feminist? S/he is someone who is posing as feminist, but not actually propagating the feminist message. But then again, who are we to denounce someone who has the right to individualize a definition too broad now to ever be defined? The bottom line is that feminism is experiencing a fourth wave and it’s broader and more vague than ever. It sometimes seems less about pushing equality and more about pushing the individual.

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