White Knighting is an attempt at being a feminist ally that assumes that men are better feminists than women are.
Examples of White Knighting might include:
- re-stating a woman's feminist arguments so as to improve them, on the assumption that you can express them more clearly and objectively
- defending a woman in an argument, cutting off her own defence of herself
- concern trolling about the tone of feminist expression or otherwise assuming that feminism is in dire need of a man's input
- misinterpreting a woman's criticisms against structural oppression as low self-esteem or low self-confidence, and engaging in excessive flattery to try and boost it
- self-appointment to "protect" a female feminist, for instance with statements such as "if anyone has problems with her being a feminist, will have to deal with me first"
Essentially, the problem is an ally's assumption that one is the best, most effective, feminist present.
As a criticism of all allies
Sometimes the term "white knighting" is used by anti-feminists to criticise any feminist action from a man. Feminists don't ask that men be silent on feminist questions, they simply ask that men not behave as if they invented or perfected feminism.
Used in this context, it can imply that the man is only taking feminist action because he thinks it will ingratiate him with women and help him start a sexual relationship. This is a divisive tactic, to prey on any insecurities the ally may have about the topic, to attempt to convince the ally to see women as merely sexual objects rather than people with full autonomy, and to introduce doubt about that ally's motivation with feminists.