Geek Feminism Wiki

Nonconsensual lemonade-making is when a person complains of something hard or upsetting and is told to cheer up/look on the bright side/look for the silver lining. This term is derived from the common saying "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade", which admonishes people suffering hardship to find a way to feel good about it or turn it to their advantage. This term was coined by Twitter user hashoctothorpe in a closed Slack community.

Nonconsensual lemonade-making happens most commonly when a listener feels a need to provide advice but doesn't know what to suggest, or when a listener doesn't know how to provide support except through advice. It is silencing by directly policing the feelings of the marginalized person; it is an explicit call for the marginalized person to drop any negative feelings about the discrimination they've experienced. It's an especially common response to a complex situation with no obvious solution.

This is also commonly experienced by people with disabilities/disabled people and people with chronic illness, and in those cases it is especially related to the listener's desire to soothe their own distress by changing the emotional tone of the conversation and stepping away from the knowledge that the upsetting situation may not be able to be changed.

Related to Unsolicited advice and You should be flattered.


  • "Cheer up, things can't really be that bad!"
  • "I'm sure he didn't mean it like that!"
  • "Yeah, but going through this will make you stronger!"
  • "Think of it this way- now you know."
  • "Why don't you try (action) instead."

Better responses

  • "I'm sorry, that sounds really hard/upsetting."
  • "I'm feeling anger/sadness/(some feeling) on your behalf."
  • "Thanks for telling me."
  • "I want to support you; is there anything you can think of that you'd like from me?"