Feminism is about dismantling the patriarchy and, like Emma Watson, I believe there’s always enough space for more feminists – regardless of their gender.
This doesn’t mean that it’s easy for men to support the feminist movement without being complete cold corndogs, though. Here are nine ways men can be feminists without perpetuating shitty social power dynamics.
Recognize your privilege
This is the first step. Understand that every woman you know has had to work a littler harder to get where she is just because of her gender. You don’t have to point out your privilege – just know that you got to where you are, in part, because of the way you were born.
Men are usually the ones talking, the ones at the head of the table, the ones others close their mouths and open their ears to. But you need to become comfortable listening to women. There are some problems you have never faced, and honestly, there are some times when your opinion just doesn’t carry any weight. Acknowledge that. And listen to women.
The leaders in the feminism movement are usually women, and this is a great thing, especially considering the leaders in the real world are usually men. This goes for a lot of social movements. Step back and let the women lead.
Don’t put men’s issues first
It’s true – sexism affects men negatively too. It can get pretty bad. But part of feminism is realizing that while sexism is shit all around, it really isn’t all about you.
Challenge your bros
I once heard a construction guy in NYC tell his friend, “I know you think it’s nice, but I don’t know man, they think it’s creepy.” Be that construction guy. Tell your bros when they’re out of line. Tell them to stop calling their exes crazy, tell them to stop blaming her legitimate anger on her period and never let a friend catcall a woman.
For 13 years, every time I asked a question in class, I prefaced it with “I’m sorry.” Women don’t always think we have a voice or a reason to speak or a right to be taken seriously. Consciously shut yourself up so your female classmates/ partners have room to speak.
Be willing to admit when you messed up
If you do something sexist, step back, realize it and apologize. It happens to everyone, but you’re part of the problem if you don’t recognize it, admit it and not do it again.
The war on women isn’t over, and your vote carries as much weight as ours do.
If you are in a position of power, use it for the better.
Are you a teacher? Treat your female students with respect. Challenge them. And offer your support. Are you a boss? Hire women. Believe them. Punish sexism in and out of the office. Are you a father? Teach your daughter that she is just as powerful as your son. Like Beyonce, tell her she can be president. Involve her in political discussions and let her talk – challenge her to create her own opinion and then challenge that opinion. My dad once told me he tried to raise me to be a feminist with a little bit of bitch mixed in. It worked, so thanks, Dad.