Performative Allyship

What does Performative Allyship mean?

Allyship that’s done just to look good socially

Performative allyship is a term that describes the act of pretending to support a marginalized group, like the BIPOC or LGBTQ community, without any real commitment or empathy for their struggles and equality. It’s more about showing off and getting approval than genuinely caring. This term came into common usage around the mid-2010s, but it really took off during the 2020 protests following George Floyd’s murder.

This term is often used to call out individuals, particularly celebrities, and companies who portray themselves as allies of marginalized groups purely for the sake of their image. The motivation behind performative allyship can vary, from wanting to gain more followers or avoiding the label of being racist or homophobic. This kind of allyship is most commonly seen on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

A performative ally might post about opposing racism or prejudice against the LGBTQ community, but their actions (or lack thereof) don’t support their words. They might not donate money, protest, or take any steps towards effecting real change. This behavior is not restricted to celebrities; everyday users can also unknowingly engage in performative allyship.

For instance, a person might post on social media condemning a racially motivated crime but then resume their normal activities. They might appear to be allies briefly, but they don’t consistently advocate for the rights and equality of the BIPOC community. When George Floyd was murdered in May 2020, many people expressed outrage but soon returned to their usual posts about food, babies, and pets. True allyship requires more than just a hashtag; it demands continuous efforts in both the virtual and real worlds.

The term performative allyship is similar to slacktivism, a portmanteau of “slacker” and “activism”. Slacktivism refers to people who attempt to be activists but don’t want to put in much effort. Performative allies might also be referred to as “posers”, individuals who falsely claim to live their lives a certain way.

Example for using ‘Performative Allyship’ in a conversation

Hey, did you see that post about allyship on social media?

Yeah, I did. It reminded me of performative allyship.

What’s that?

It’s when someone acts like an ally to a minority group just to look good and gain social standing.