How to Convince Somebody to Be a Feminist

So there's someone in your family, friend group, or range of acquaintances who seems like a prospective feminist. They understand human dignity, they cringe at injustice, and they treat those around them with respect. Here is how to introduce them to the feminist movement in a friendly and patient manner.


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    Ask them why they aren't a feminist. Listen closely to their viewpoint. Many non-feminists harbor misconceptions about feminism. They may believe that...
    • Sexism is not a serious problem
    • Feminists want women to be superior to men; they want to do to men what patriarchy has done to women
    • Feminists hate men
    • Feminists are ugly lesbians with short hair who never shave (Some are, some aren't. Feminism welcomes people from all walks of life.)
    • Feminism is only about white, middle-class, cishet, conventionally attractive, thin, non-disabled women
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    Clear up their misconceptions. This can require quite a bit of education and preparation, which makes it a daunting task. Take deep breaths, collect your thoughts, and speak calmly and logically.
    • Explain that feminism is the belief that all people have equal human dignity, and deserve equal respect and opportunities (or something to that effect).
    • Point out any good articles that you know.
    • Address any individual misconceptions with facts or basic logic. ("No, feminists value consent, so we do not believe in forcibly castrating cis men.")
    • Acknowledge any pain. The feminist movement is not perfect, and there are legitimate areas of concern:[1] toxic callout culture, lack of intersectionality in certain communities (e.g. ableism, exclusion of trans people), and more. Help them find a welcoming feminist space, or let them do their own work separate from feminism.
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    Notice how open they are to new ideas. A person who would make a good feminist is someone who listens and learns, asking questions, and speaking up if something doesn't match their personal values system. They are interested, and they don't view it as a personal attack. If a person seems bored, or even takes it personally, then drop the subject. You aren't going to get anywhere.
    • A friendly but less interested person may identify as a feminist ally—they agree that inequality is bad, but aren't interested in learning the technicalities. They'll give a thumbs up as you fight rape culture or promote LGBT rights, but won't initiate anything. If so, that's okay—they support you, and you did well.
    • Some people may want more information before diving in. This means that they are critical thinkers, and could become great feminists. However, if they are ridiculously skeptical or patronizing, then they probably are trying to make a fool out of you.
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    Be prepared for bigotry. Some people will get defensive when their ideas are challenged, will insist that they know best (even if they haven't read a thing about feminism), or will act like they are being attacked. End the conversation and walk away. These people are not willing to understand, and they are not the type of people you'd want in the feminist movement, anyway.
    • They may be more open to it when they are older and less likely to take everything personally.
    • Remember, an open woman-hater can be easier to ignore than a woman-hater who is convinced that he is a feminist.
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    Offer to share some articles or books. If someone is interested in feminism, they may want to hear recommendations from you. Or they may want to do their own research. Offer resources, but don't push. Each person learns in their own way, at their own pace.
    • If you are in college, you might take a gender studies course together.
    • Warn them away from any misleading resources.
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    Remember that learning takes a long time. It'll be a while before (if ever) they're up to speed on things—so be careful about overwhelming them with terms like cisnormative, rape culture, and gender performativity. It takes a while to unlearn and relearn things from a more critical perspective. They will do problematic things, they will voice annoyingly common misconceptions, and they will be confused. Use patience, and try referring them to other sources to prevent exhaustion.
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    Remember that they are different from you. Maybe you focus on rape culture and transgender rights, whereas they're interested in ableism and racism. They will develop viewpoints different from your own, and will care most passionately about ideas that may be different from your own. This is okay—feminists are not mindless clones of your viewpoint, but critical individuals with their own perspectives.
    • If their perspective is actively harmful (e.g. they are being transmisogynistic), then it's absolutely okay to call them out.
    • Debate them if they are open to it, but don't try to force your viewpoint onto them. Remember to respect their opinions and autonomy.
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    Focus on other things too. It's great to have feminist friends and family members whom you can discuss issues with—but feminism is not the entirety of your relationship. Remember to enjoy other aspects of your relationship as well, and to have fun together.


  • If someone is reluctant, don't push it. Maybe they aren't in a place in their lives where they have time or interest in feminism. This is okay. Don't strain the relationship by bothering them with a topic they don't want to discuss.
  • Be very careful of any misogynists or people who identify as MRAs. They may harass you if they find out that you are a feminist. Call the police if they begin making threats or start stalking you.

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Categories: Feminism and Sexism