The same thought strikes me when I look at social media. Many of my friends spend hours virtue-signaling (another word that is fast approaching redundancy) on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. But if I ever ask them about it, they’ll explain that they only shared the sanctimonious meme because everyone in their office did, or they just thought that is what you have to do. They don’t really ‘believe all women’, they just think that’s what you say online. It’s like they’re all agnostics in the Middle Ages. It’s easier to repeat the litany than go against the grain.
There’s often a profit-motive, too. I know a woman (who shall remain nameless) who spends her time promoting her feminist bona fides on Instagram. She posts endless shots of herself with cod-motivational messages about her body shape, the #MeToo movement, or the importance of her orgasms. She used to be a close friend so I always found her Insta-feminism particularly cringe-inducing.
Then, at a wedding recently, we had a cheering, drunken rapprochement: we bonded over how awful Instagram is. She only does it, she said, because she is trying to find her way as an influencer — one of the few career avenues open to cash-poor Gen X mummies in suburbia (now that is a feminist issue worth raising). The woke version of herself wasn’t true: it was a digital career move.