How To Write About Feminists

By Shanaia Malkani
Cover Image: The Riptide Magazine

About the piece: The article below is written with caustic humour, overt sarcasm and nuanced parody of the popular stereotypes and tropes used to represent a dreaded version of ‘feminists’, which alienate and caricature not just the philosophy but also the people believing in it. Shanaia’s take on the topic refuses to shy away from the fallacies of this representation, and gives a startlingly clear image of just how absurd it can be.
Always use words like ‘feminists’ or ‘man haters’ or ‘angry’ in your title.

Subtitles may include words like ‘radicals’, ‘lesbians’, ‘oversensitive’. Other useful words are ‘pro-choice’, ‘non-feminine’ and ‘social justice warriors’. Note that you acknowledge that not all feminists are the same, although you will nurse them as such.

Never have a picture of a lucid woman on the cover of your book, unless that feminist has written an angry famous book about it. A black motorcycle, the pride flag and unshaved armpits; use these. If you must include a feminist, make sure she has a tattoo that says ‘the future is female’ or something of that sort to conform with your pre-existing biases. 

In your text, treat feminists as if they were one person.

She is an unattractive woman that owns 8 cats and will die alone. She hates marriage and has ‘daddy issues’. Don’t get bogged down with precise details though.

Feminists are furious: they are all over the internet, and use fake #MeToo to evoke sympathy from people. They also have substance and fight for basic fundamental rights but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions intimate, reminiscent and imprecise.

Make sure you mention their favourite poison of choice: beer, because their sole purpose in life is to defeat gender stereotypes.

Taboo subjects: regular and/or well-adjusted women, rape jokes (since feminists have an erratic temper), and symbols pertaining to religion and men.

Throughout the book, adopt a condescending voice, mansplaining to the reader in an ‘I-think-they-should-chill-out tone’.

Establish early on that you love feminists and believe in gender equality and do not confuse it for misandrism. Feminism is the only belief to have – take advantage of this. If you are a man, take pride in the fact that you cooked dinner for your wife that one time and thus, you can call yourself a feminist. If you are a woman, justify to the people around you that you support stay-at-home moms. Feminists are to be pitied, worshipped or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, feminists are doomed.

Your feminist characters may include patterned shirts and cardigans.

They are extremely peculiar looking, with holes and patches and green eyeshadow. In no way should they resemble ordinary people. Note that something extremely traumatic or severe had to have happened for any of your characters to be feminists, as they are not permitted to want equality otherwise. There is a young boy that witnessed his mother get beat with a belt and so he understands feminism; except he won’t say anything during locker room talk.

Your modern feminist is…

A pseudo-intellectual girl whose favourite movie is “10 Things I Hate About You”. She wears big glasses and has perky breasts and she’s the college student that will admire Shakespeare but call him out on his internalised misogyny in English class. Everyone will sigh, although they realise she has a point: she also has deep brown eyes and a fondness for cargo pants.  

Among your characters, you must always include the lesbian that has all of your quintessential feminist qualities. Everyone confuses her sexual preference for her identity, but that does not matter: she must look utterly helpless. She can have no past, no history; such diversions can ruin the dramatic moment. Moans are good. She must never say anything about herself in the dialogue except to speak of her (unspeakable) suffering.

Be sure to include jocks that wear varsity jackets and have blue eyes: they are usually the villains of your story that enhance the qualities around your protagonist. They agree with feminism but they believe the #FreeTheNipple movement is a bit extreme. Additionally, they wonder why it is called ‘feminism’ if the basis of it is its impartiality. Your hero is the technology-driven “woke” girl that will not stop ‘hash-tagging’ on Instagram. Bad southern characters may include a man with a distinct accent who wears brown shoes. Your readers have to believe that this man is the root cause of feminism. But do not get tied up in the logistics of it: you need to keep your readers engaged. 

Have your characters talk about their childhood suffering, but not growth or maturity, layers, or humourous tendencies.

You do not want to confuse them for actual human beings. They are feminists. 

Describe, in detail, how they’re incapable of finding a partner. They knit sweater vests all day and cry a lot. Illustrate for your readers how their physical appearance is the least bad thing about them and how their siblings misunderstand them. Do not feel bad about this: you are trying to get human beings to understand the utter plight of their helplessness. 

After black celebrities and transexual women, environmental activists are a feminist’s most important people. Do not offend them. You need to ensure they know you do not follow Donald Trump, lest they create a banner for you too; often a book cover with a witty line and some stick figures will do magic for sales. Remember that while you talk to these activists, do not mention chivalry, as they believe the notion is deeply embedded in the inner recesses of sexist men. Never ask them if they think unequal pay is a myth.

Readers will be put off if you do not talk about the hair of feminists.

It is always a pixie cut and is edgy and a bright red. There is always a bold new trend that feminists are trying out, and they wear garbs for clothes to carry all that audacity. When writing about the distaste for nail polish and pink, make sure you mention that feminists are loud and opinionated.

You’ll also need a septum ring and an intricate story on how your main character came to be a feminist. Include events such as alcoholism, female infanticide and sexual assault. Sexual assault always works. Always end your book with Taylor Swift saying something about togetherness or gold. 

Because you care. 

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