After the fallout from the #YesAllWomen hashtag, I had a number of men come up to me wanting to talk about feminism. Specifically, they wanted to know how to get involved, or what they could do day-to-day.
After having a good, long think about it – and doing a tonne of Google searching – I’ve come up with a list of things. As a side note, it’s worth pointing out that anyone is capable of a good Google search, but I’ve selected the material that I’ve posted here because I feel that it comes from reasonably reputable feminist sources (and not, say, WikiAsk.com).
It’s also worth pointing out to all men that the term “male feminist” can be reasonably controversial. Some women will not accept you as a feminist. Some women will say you are an “ally”. Some women will welcome you with open arms. You’re going to get mixed reactions – and that’s okay! The point is not to argue, but to listen. If a woman doesn’t accept you as a feminist, it’s your job to understand why (and not necessarily by asking her, because heck, she might’ve just had 27 other guys ask her the same thing. Do some research for yourself).
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get on with my list of Things To Know:
Articles on the #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen hashtags (and why the ‘Not All Men’ claim needs to stop):
While there is no conspiracy, no organised mission to shut down the feminist front, there is still unchecked sexism at play. A knee-jerk defense mechanism to shut down discussion before anyone has to face the fact every single person lives with the dreadful impact that is sexual and physical violence against women.
Via Amy Gray
Why is it not helpful to say “not all men are like that”? For lots of reasons. For one, women know this. They already know not every man is a rapist, or a murderer, or violent. They don’t need you to tell them.
Via Phil Plait
A guide to mansplaining (and why women don’t need to be told that it’s “not all men”):
Women are tired of having subjects that they are highly educated in explained to them like they’re children, and they sometimes react in emotional ways. If you’re having a reasoned, intelligent debate with a woman and all of a sudden she throws her hands up and says “OK! Stop talking to me like I’m an idiot,” you’re likely a mansplainer.
Via Amy McCarthy
Male privilege is a set of privileges that are given to men as a class due to their institutional power in relation to women as a class. While every man experiences privilege differently due to his own individual position in the social hierarchy, every man, by virtue of being read as male by society, benefits from male privilege.
Via Finally Feminism 101
Now that you’ve learnt a little bit about male privilege and mansplaining, let’s talk about men’s roles within feminism. There’s an excellent page over here called “Can men be feminists” that provides links to further views (both for and against). Head over there and follow some of the links.
Where we try to jump into women’s groups and work with women we often have problems. Most men have a lot to work out within ourselves related to our masculinity and how we relate to women as well as other men. When we try to work out our issues within women’s groups we repeat the pattern of women needing to educate men about our feelings and many other related issues.
Via Feminist Allies
For a lot of people just starting to come to a feminist identification, listening may be a lot more productive and clarifying. “Listening” might mean attending talks or lectures, or it might mean reading blog comment sections or Twitter hashtags without feeling like you have to contribute. Everyone, no matter where they are in their feminist life, can benefit from listening, so I heartily encourage this activity. It’s not only a great way to learn the shorthand and memes and key phrases and all that, but it’s a good way to find people—especially other men—whom you might want to reach out to in your own future conversations.
Via Bitch Magazine
In terms of what you, as man interested in feminism, can actually do (and this is by far one the best articles I’ve found):
You probably have a lot of insights that you want to share. You want to tell us why men act the way they do and how you think we can change that behavior. And there’s room for that in feminism… to an extent. But for the most part, what we need men to do is just to listen.
I want you to think about all the women who are denied a chance to speak by men around the world — women who are barred from obtaining an education, women who are subjected to genital mutilation, women who aren’t allowed to work, women who are survivors of sexual abuse, women of color, trans and queer women, sex workers. Don’t they deserve a chance to be heard? Wouldn’t you like to be the person to give them that chance?
Via Aaminah Khan
And finally, my own set of suggestions:
- Get to reading! There’s a tonne of amazing feminist books out there – read some of them! The Bitch magazine article I linked to above provided a pretty substantial list.
- Show up at pro choice rallies (just make sure that men are welcome first)
- Show up at events like Slut Walk (again, just make sure that it’s male inclusive first)
- Speak up when you hear someone misusing the term “rape”, or spot other forms of sexism in action (and be prepared to get shot down for it)
- Get involved in your local femmo scene. Here in Melbourne we have a pretty awesome set of events – things like Cher Chez La Femme, Women’s Melbourne Network, and Melbourne Feminist Action. These groups aren’t going to invite you along – you have to hunt them down yourself.
- Do some further research yourself. It took me about an hour to put this post together – imagine what you could find out yourself in that time. Women don’t always have the time or inclination to do your research. So, do some for yourself (and be prepared for a very wide variety of views! Feminism is not unanimous on a lot of issues).