I know, I know: It has gotten very confusing to live in a time when most of the mainstream believes in gender equality. I get it. It can be really perplexing to see a woman -- maybe even an attractive woman -- do things like go to work and earn her own money and, say, buy her own dinner and drinks and general livelihood without the help of a man; it can be doubly confusing when she does the same job as her male counterparts, just as competently, and then demands she be paid the same, because she's a feminist, dammit.
Conservative talk radio host Doc Thompson totally gets it too. What's more, he gets how difficult it can be when a person doesn't look like the stereotype of an unshaven, braless, makeup-free feminist woman, but instead just looks like your average human being -- except secretly, she (or he!) is someone who believes that everybody, regardless of gender, deserves the same rights, opportunities, treatment and respect. It is almost too scary to contemplate.
To cope with the challenges of navigating the 21st century while still believing that women are subordinate, Thompson decided to compile a shorthand guide to spotting the feminists (because they're out there, hiding in plain sight). He issued this call to his Twitter followers on Sunday:
— Doc Thompson (@DocThompsonShow) May 3, 2015
The responses began to pour in from an array of people sorely confused about the definition of "feminism" or of "feminist." Apparently, #HowToSpotAFeminist is as simple as looking for a woman who is "wearing a pantsuit," or who "drives a Jeep with oversized tires," or "uses the word phallus a lot," or dates "'Pajama Boy' emasculated beta-males, then complain(s) that there are no 'men' out there."
Of course, there was also plenty of mention of feminists being people who "play the victim" and "murder babies," but we already knew that, right? (Oh, and a feminist is always, undoubtedly a woman -- never a man who fights for or even believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. But we already knew that too.)
As the #TCOT crowdsourcing continued on Tuesday, however, a beautiful thing began to happen: All of those feminists whose covers were about to be blown decided to make the whole process easier, by using the hashtag themselves.
If the misguided initial responses to Thompson's #HowToSpotAFeminist roundup provided an illustration of how completely off-the-mark people's conceptions of feminism are, the co-opting of the hashtag by real, live, ever-so-difficult-to-spot feminists offers a clarifying and witty counterpoint -- as well as a positive sign that sometimes, online sexism and misogyny can be drowned out. Here are some of the best #HowToSpotAFeminist guides:
#HowToSpotAFeminist Someone who's noticed that the 19th century ended a while ago.
— JRehling (@JRehling) May 5, 2015
#HowToSpotAFeminist Stand next to her with you arms out while she's on the weight machine or balance beam.
— Sarah Marian Seltzer (@sarahmseltzer) May 5, 2015
#HowToSpotAFeminist usually the person being verbally abused on Twitter for espousing that women are people deserving of equality, dignity
— soulkhan (@soulkhan) May 5, 2015
#HowToSpotAFeminist We carry around water bottles of man tears to stay hydrated and radiant.
— kitty (@howdyitskitty) May 5, 2015
Check their hands. They're most likely rough and worn from elevating the voices of those most marginalized. #howtospotafeminist
— Alison Turkos (@alisonturkos) May 5, 2015
Find the person whose radical notion of gender equality makes you feel angry because of your unresolved mommy issues. #HowToSpotAFeminist
— Katie Halper (@kthalps) May 5, 2015
#HowToSpotAFeminist the fifth arm is usually a bit shorter
— Lindsay Ellis (@thelindsayellis) May 5, 2015
#HowToSpotAFeminist They believe in equality. That is all. You can't spot him/her based on hairstyle, clothing or any other arbitrary thing.
— Cara Lynn Shultz (@caralynnshultz) May 5, 2015
They turn solid purple during the Full Moon. #HowToSpotAFeminist
— Michal (@inkasrain) May 5, 2015
#HowToSpotAFeminist? Look in my direction.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) May 5, 2015
They're the person in the room who can read and look up words in the dictionary to understand... like "feminist". #HowToSpotAFeminist
— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) May 5, 2015
#HowToSpotAFeminist *raises hand, waves at everyone* We are everywhere.
— Eve Vawter (@EveVawter) May 5, 2015
Even Woman Against Feminism got in on the action:
I don’t need femimss #HowToSpotAFeminist ? You cannot. You will never even know she is there. Until it is too late.
— WomanAgainstFeminism (@NoToFeminism) May 5, 2015