'Micro-feminism' explained: This TikTok trend is fighting gender inequality in tiny ways

Three screenshots of TikToks from women sharing about "micro-feminism"

TikTok trends come in all shapes and sizes: dance routines that low-key feel so hard they must have been created by a professional choreographer, “de-influencing” popular products in the name of reducing wasteful consumerism, and even using filters on “get ready with me” videos for a good cause.

Gone the way of de-influencing, a new trend has taken hold on the social media app that could have tangible implications socially and culturally. It’s called “micro-feminism.”

Essentially: It’s the small, subtle changes someone might make — especially in the workplace — to fight gender inequality.

“Instead of like, standing up, burning your bra, and screaming at people, it’s like little acts that make men pissed off,” TikTok creator Katie Wood said in a video about the subject. “And it’s my favorite f—ing thing to do.”

Wood then goes on to rattle off some ways she does this in her job as an attorney.

For instance, she said, if somebody at her job says “I have to talk to the board,” or the chairperson of the board, CEO — you name it — she will always reply with “let me know what she says.”

“Always she,” Wood emphasized. “By default.”

Of course, feminism, too, comes in all shapes and sizes, but the gist of the movement is that people of all genders deserve to be liberated from oppression. While “bra-burning” and “standing up and screaming” can certainly be useful tactics to meet this goal, practical, everyday actions like these also make a difference.

In fact, they are likely a response to “microaggressions,” or the small, daily ways someone may experience oppression (Think: this clip of a man assuming a woman was a flight attendant, when seconds earlier she had indeed introduced herself as a pilot.)

Wood is not the only creator making the rounds on TikTok to discuss micro-feminism. 

Creator Ashley Chaney asked viewers what their favorite “micro-feminism” act is, after she shared how, if she is emailing a group of people, she will always address the email to the woman first, and the man second.

Both Wood and Chaney’s original TikToks are abuzz, as thousands comment with ideas of their own.

“I write real estate contracts, and I always put the wife’s name first,” one commenter wrote. “The husbands question it a lot, even though it makes zero difference to the contract — just their ego.”

“I addressed my wedding invitations as ‘Mrs. & Mr. Jane Smith,’” another wrote.

“When a group of male coworkers complete some kind of project or presentation I say ‘great job gentlemen’ or ‘great job boys’ in the same way professional men say ‘great job ladies/girls,’” one user shared.

“When I send emails I no longer say ‘I just wanted to reach out…’” another person said. “Saying just diminishes the importance of my message.”

While these small actions are exactly that — small — seeing thousands of women come together to share them and discover which other tiny ways they can reclaim their power seems to be empowering more than just colleagues on the other end of an email.

Plus, as major corporations cut their diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, fighting back against harmful stereotypes are vital to regaining equal footing in the workplace — and hopefully, reminding employers why DEI work is so necessary.

“This comment section made me realize we are all making small steps each day,” one TikTok user said. “And it deeply matters.”

Header images courtesy of @facebrook, @katiewood____, and @iamashelychaney/TikTok

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April 4, 2024 10:26 AM
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