How Men Can Be Allies To Women
Being an ally takes some work, but we promise it is so worth it! Here's how men can be allies to women:
1. Be aware
The patriarchy is a system of discrimination in which men have more privilege than women. From small things like girls being asked to help in the kitchen while boys are outside playing to big things like unequal pay for the same job, the patriarchy oppresses women in many different ways. Being aware of the many ways in which women and men experience the world differently will help you see how you play a role in perpetuating the system, and how you can change it. Read up on privilege. Better still, talk to women around you and then be open to what they share.
2. Listen actively A big part of being an ally is listening actively. When you ask women to share their stories, these stories will often be full of pain and anger. As a man, it is easy to become defensive and question these stories because men don't look very good in most of these stories. But when you listen actively, you will know better and then you can do better. It's important not to question someone's lived experience, just because you may not see things from that perspective, does not mean that they are untrue. Being an ally means being open to vulnerability, to guilt and then doing better.
3. Speak up Part of doing better is speaking up, not to the women telling you their stories, but to your peers - other men. How often have you been part of a group and some guy starts telling a sexist joke? Do you laugh? Standing up to your friends and saying that something is not funny takes courage, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The music we listen to, the jokes we tell, the WhatsApp forwards we send, all contribute to a culture of violence against women. It is not enough to know that this is problematic, now is the time to speak up.
4. Confront yourself Perhaps the most difficult part of being an ally is to realize that you are not separate from the group you want to change. We all have our biases and we all hold problematic views and assumptions - it's a result of growing up in a patriarchal society. Confronting ourselves with compassion will help us grow and show up not only as better allies but also as better people.