What is men’s role in feminism? Four out of 10 men would describe themselves as feminists, versus more than 6 out of 10 women. But a discussion of men and gender equality must move beyond the sometimes polarizing term “feminism”.
Women know very well how society’s traditionally patriarchal structure is damaging to them. But what men and women are increasingly accepting is that it is damaging to men as well.
Outlining Men’s Role in Feminism
So what should men’s role in feminism be? Do they have a part to play in dismantling the patriarchal systems, and if so, what is it?
Read on to dive into an exploration of how men can advocate for feminism and push the agenda of women worldwide.
Stay up to Date With Developments
One of the most important things men can do to assist the feminist movement is to stay up to date with the latest gender issues. Only by knowing the latest debates and struggles of young people can men be in a position to collaborate on solutions.
It might be a new jaw-dropping video of Donald Trump making sexist comments, or an incident of police brutality against a black woman. A great starting place for old and young men alike is to diversify their news intake. Make sure you’re following, reading, and listening to female voices.
It should be flagged here that men and feminism have plenty of goals in common. Both (usually) want a fairer world, where men can be spared the pressures and harmful stereotypes that cause them undue pressure.
By keeping abreast of the latest feminist debates, men can add their voices when appropriate, and remain aware of the gender inequality challenges women face today.
Create Opportunities for Women
A great way for a male feminist to promote gender equality is by ensuring the creation of opportunities for women. By tackling the gender gap in your workplace, you can help even the playing field when it comes to power, pay, and influence.
Male privilege is ingrained in society’s structures. For better or for worse, these structures and traditional gender roles cannot be dismantled without the input of men. There are several ways to do this in a professional context.
First, you can raise awareness of the existing issues. Take a look at the company’s salary system and draw attention to the women who might be being underpaid.
Another great initiative is to help remove obstacles to progression for young women. Enacting a mentorship scheme can help to increase the diversity of voices being heard, and open up positions of power to people of all genders.
Call Out Other Men
One of the major benefits of feminism is that it helps men too. People are increasingly aware of how damaging modern society is to men, with the high male suicidal rates just one clear indication of this.
By acknowledging and acting upon the damage done by society to men, it’s possible to dismantle some of the dangerous stereotypes surrounding men and masculinity. One of the starkest examples of this is “bro culture” which has horrendous impacts on the lives of both men and women.
While men should call out violence against women in all its guises, this is not enough. Men should also check their friends when they witness gaslighting, seemingly benign jokes, or comments that degrade, objectify, or treat women any differently from men.
Know When to Listen
Next, an important part of men’s role in feminism is knowing when to speak out and when to listen. When you witness a woman being disparaged in her presence or absence, call it out. But on other occasions, amplifying a woman’s voice can be the most powerful action to take.
A simple example of this stems from social media. Retweet women and people of minority genders who share something significant. There’s not always a need to provide your take on their content while quote-tweeting them. Sometimes, supporting women means staying quiet.
Nowhere is this more important than with your partner, family members, and friends. The concept of mansplaining has been comically called out in popular culture in recent years. Yet, there is truth to each of these stories. Almost every woman has an anecdote of when a man has explained to them their own lived experience or field of expertise.
Thus, one of the most important ways that supportive men can act is to take a step back from the microphone and listen to what women have to say.
Use Male Privilege for Good
Last, when discussing men’s role in feminism, it is useless to deny male privilege. Every individual has some kind of privilege. Whether that’s because someone is straight, able-bodied, male, white, well off, or any other factor, privilege can be used for good.
Several male feminist writers have explored the concept of allyship and male privilege. Billy Doidge Kilgore, for example, explores how men are set much lower standards as parents. The “pedestal effect” is just one example of how our society treats men and women differently on a fundamental level.
So, one of the ways that pro-feminist men can use their privilege for feminism is by including women. Whether that’s removing barriers to promotions in the workplace, or taking a deeper look at how you personally benefit from living in a patriarchal society.
That’s Men’s Role in Feminism: Deconstructed
Having explored what men’s role in feminism is, it’s time to take action. Share this article with the men in your life who you think would benefit from a breakdown of the steps they can take to help eliminate outdated sex roles.
Remember that whatever your sexuality, gender, race, religion, or identity may be, feminism is for everybody.
Evelyn Nam + Dr. Kate Balestrieri Discuss Men’s Role in Feminism
In this episode of Modern Intimacy, Dr. Kate Balestrieri and guest, Evelyn Nam, discuss the reason for feminism, the benefits and opposition to it, and the role that men can play as feminists and allies.
Guest info: Evelyn Nam (she/her/hers) Evelyn is a lifelong intersectional feminist. She graduated from Cornell with a B.S. in 2016 and from Harvard with two master’s degrees in 2020. She studied oppression and how it has all been cemented throughout history in public policy, economy, law, media, and religious institutions. She has helped people study intersectional feminism, build their own enterprise that adds to gender equity, and write articles on women’s liberation.