Performative Activism

What does performative activism look like?

Activism performed to gain social standing

Performative activism is when a person participates in an activist movement, not because he believes in the cause but because he wants to be popular. The phrase became popular in 2020 during the George Floyd protests when celebrities were accused of joining in to gain fans, instead of out of a genuine commitment.

This fake activism often occurs online, especially on social sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The person may post that he is for a certain issue, but doesn't actually do anything, like donate money or protest for change.

Typically, this "activist" act is done on purpose to appear a part of something or to look like he has the same interests as his followers. Other times, the person may do it naively, not realizing that his posts come across as fake to those doing the actual work.

One example of performative activism is when Emma Watson posted a black image for "Black Lives Matter" (BLM) on her Instagram account but altered it to appear similar to her "style" and serve her own purposes. Another example includes celebrities posting images of themselves "protesting," but are actually just photo ops.

The term is similar to "Slacktivism," which is a combination of "slacker" and "activism" and describes people who try to be activists but don't want to put forth much effort. Performative activists may also be called "Posers," which are people guilty of bragging that they live their life one way but don't actually like like that at all.

Example

"All these influencers are showing their true colors with their performative activism."
"Yeah, I saw one person selling a BLM shirt with her brand on it."

When you are accused of performative activism

Related Slang

Usage

Last Updated: June 5, 2020

Performative activism definition

This page explains what the slang term "Performative activism" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the Slangit team.

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