Just like your Steve Madden slides from middle school, feminism is all the rage now. All the cool kids are doing it. Everyone wants to be it and be associated with it. Heck, even Christian Dior made a t-shirt saying we should all be feminists. I remember my mother sneering at the idea of spending $50 on a pair of shoes for me. She’d just moved to the US from Kenya and that $50 could have educated one of my female cousins for an entire semester. My only option to don the famed Steve Madden slides was to the get Payless knockoffs. From afar my pair looked just like the real thing, but when you looked close you could tell the platform on my “Steve Madden” was built from rubber and fabric instead of leather.
Yeah, I could walk around in my slides thinking that I’m cool. My notion of cool back then embedded in capitalism’s desire for consumerism and uniformity and based on that paradigm, I knew I was a fake. I was terrified to take my shoes off as someone would notice that in place of the the black and white “Steve Madden” laid an unknown label, identifying me as a faker, a fraud. My love affair with Steve Madden parallels the state of feminism currently. Many possess it, while others who are not willing to invest in it are simply buying symbols to fake the ideal. However, the consequences of fake feminism surpass a teenager’s desire to fit in.
Fake feminism allows a false “feminist” male master of industry like Harvey Weinstein to claim allyship while using his power and resources to dehumanize women, making them objects and pawns to meet his sexual needs. Fake feminism protects such a man because it’s paradigm dictates that one only needs to invest in objects or causes that showcase one’s interest in equality for all; actions are separate. That’s how such a man can maintain the paradox of sexual deviancy and a desire to pursue equality for women.
Fake feminism allows a company like the “State Street Corporation” to claim allyship by merely placing a statue of a “Fearless Girl” on Wall Street, while underpaying its black female executives. What else do you want from them? They already bought the symbol.
But fake feminism is like buying a Nike label and sewing it on your shoe. Your shoe might be called a Nike by people who see it, but your shoe will never be a Nike.