So what are strong women to do if even the men who seem like good feminists might be misogynists, too? With right-wing men who oppose women’s rights, what you see is what you get. With these bogus male feminists, it can be crazy-making — especially since women are so often taught to subsume our own doubts and even our own experiences if men tell us we’re interpreting things incorrectly. Of course we want men to champion women’s rights, and we shouldn’t look skeptically on the men who stand up for all of us.
We should look at the male feminists’ relationship to power: Are they willing to cede and share some of what they have to qualified women, or do they use women as helpmeets and steppingstones for their own careers? When women challenge them, how do they react? — are they respectful or resentful? When they’re pushing for women’s rights, what’s more important to them: the result or the recognition?
There is no way to divine whether or not a man is a secret abuser. If the allegations are true, then the former New York attorney general is surely not the last faux-feminist man to be outed as a vicious misogynist. But he could be the last one who might think that strutting his feminism in public will be enough to protect him if he exploits women in private.