Men: The Responsibility is Ours

I’ll get straight to the point: Patriarchy and all of its attendant ills (rape, assault, the devaluing of women’s labor, the oversexualization of young girls, the objectification of women, etc.) is a men’s issue. Just like systemic and institutional racism is a white person’s issue, patriarchy is the beast that all men must defeat.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t see yourself as misogynist or benefitting from patriarchy, you have some power to combat it. We men have to detoxify ourselves from the influence of patriarchy. We have to detoxify our masculinity. If a women says ‘no’ to you and you feel the need to assault her, the problem is yours. If you see this happen and do not intervene, you are equally at fault. I understand that it is dangerous to involve yourself in the concerns of others. But if men do not hold other men accountable, who will? It is our collective responsibility to hold each other accountable. Not because this women or girl (or women or girl identified person) could be our auntmomsisterwifegirlfriend. But because this is a person and they do not deserve to be treated in any way that dehumanizes them; that makes them less than. Patriarchy not only affects women. Men suffer from it, too. Our suffering is prominent in different ways.

Many of us suffer by having to uphold patriarchal ideals. Whether from our religious, cultural, or family traditions, a lot of us are walking in the anfractuous footsteps of the damaged men who came before us. We trudge the trail without question. And if we do question, other men smack us down. They cast aspersions on our manhood—using female-connected insults: pussy, bitch. So many men will defend their right to wallow in the Patriarchy harder than they will defend against oppression. If you will riot over a sports team winning or losing, or scuffle with someone over a pair of sneakers, but won’t protect women/girls—you need to check your priorities and your empathy. Maybe peek in on your humanity.

Three years ago I published the following. I truly think it bears repeating and emphasizing. How to raise (be) a feminist ally:

  1. Don’t be an asshole to women or girls (or those who identify as such). It is not calculus. Treat women with respect, always, but especially in the presence of young boys. You’ll be the example the boys in your life need.

  2. Encourage the boys in your life to enter the worlds created by girls during play, and encourage them to invite girls into theirs. The invitation is the key. Stop them if they try to impose their worlds.

  3. Teach him to listen and ask questions.

  4. Teach them about male privilege at an early age. Teach them to use their privilege in the service of others until the time they are ready to attempt to eradicate it.

  5. Immediately call out any behaviors they engage in that support or endorse an anti-woman/girl stance. Along with calling BS, teach them why this is wrong and how to correct it.

  6. Teach them how to perform stereotypically “women’s work”.

  7. Teach them that sensitivity; caring, and empathy make you strong and aren’t traits reserved only for women/girls. Nor do expressing these traits make them weak.

  8. Do not assign female gender/sex traits to inanimate objects. Your car is a car. Do not refer to it as ‘her’ or ‘she’ or any other anthropomorphized designation.

  9. Call out gender/sex-based discrimination in public. If it is not acceptable in the home, it damn well shouldn’t be acceptable in the world.

  10. Don’t be an asshole to women or girls.