Geek Feminism Wiki

A double bind, or a catch-22, or a "choice of no lesser evil" is a situation where there are two options exclusive to each other, and where no correct or more beneficial choice can be made. It can be a form, but not the definitive case, of a false choice.


  • speaking out as a member of a marginalized group: if they speak out in a measured or deferential way about oppressive behaviours, their concerns are often ignored. Should they raise their concerns in a more pointed or incisive manner, they are berated for being "incivil".
  • You're being emotional: a woman can either express her emotion, and be berated for being irrational, too sensitive, etc., or limit her emotional expression, and be dismissed as unfeminine, uncivil, etc.
  • beauty duty: a woman can either be dismissed as a "failed woman" (by not fulfilling beauty standards), or be labelled "sexually free game" (by fulfilling beauty standards).
  • attractiveness: a woman can either be attractive to straight men, and therefore be seen primarily as a sexual object, or she can be unattractive to straight men, and therefore not worthy of their attention.
  • suck it up and deal: if you fail to give examples of sexist comments or behavior, you're accused of inventing a problem. If you do give examples, almost any example can be dismissed as something women would be able to deal with if they were motivated.
  • responding to flirt, sexual advances as a woman: simply, slut if you accept, ugly witch if you don't. In more detail:
  • if she is straightforward in accepting, she's labelled as a slut or too active, "scary", perhaps undesireable, or face any sort of backlash for responding in the unexpected way;
  • if she is vague in accepting, she's mistaken as unenthusiastic, perhaps labelled as too cold or boring or undesireable or a cocktease, or simply slutty for accepting at all;
  • if she is straightforward in rejecting, she's considered to be grossly offending a gracious gift, and labelled any number of the following: a cocktease, a killjoy, a gold-digger, a lesbian, conceited, frigid, unattractive and undesirable, hateful, delusional in her assumed expectations, etc.;
  • if she is vague in rejecting, she's assumed to be playing hard to get or implying she's pretending in order to not seem slutty or to avoid being caught or that she can be persuaded, or that she wants to be persuaded, or her rejection may simply go unnoticed or purposefully ignored with the available excuse that she should have made herself clear if she wanted to be understood.