‘Woke’ tweeting, chanting slogans, actively campaigning to end violence against marginalised genders – these are all a big part of any movement. But there’s actually a lot more to it. And men who identify as feminists –often referred to as male allies – have a big responsibility towards the women they’re supporting. With the dawn of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, it’s become all the more important for men to understand what being an ally actually entails. So if you’re a male ally and committed to gender equality, here are somethings you should keep in mind.
1. Speak But Listen Even More
Sure, it’s important for you to raise your voice and your fellow feminists will appreciate you for this, but what they really want from you is a listening ear. You may have a lot of thoughts about how things should be, but remember, the feminist movement is largely based on the sufferings and experiences of women. It’s become almost natural for men to interrupt women and begin mansplaining – whether in a meeting, a family gathering or any other setting. But that’s what separates feminist men from other men.
2. Watch Your Words
Calling yourself a feminist doesn’t do much if you still use words that objectify women. Thanks to decades of patriarchy, every cuss word out there, especially in Urdu, is targeted at women. But their prevalence does not make them acceptable! Whether you’re sitting amongst women, men or even privately, refrain from using terms that attack or demean women in any way.
3. Keep Your Bro-Code At Bay
There’s no place for toxic bro-codes in feminism. If you’re reluctant to call out other men or deny any accusations against your friends, you’re getting the whole concept of feminism wrong. Along with women, men need to hold other men accountable as well! Not just in public gatherings but even in your friends circle. Stop your friends from making inappropriate jokes about women or catcalling them. Stand up for a female colleague if she’s being harassed by a male co-worker. Never let your bro-code come in the way of equality.
4. Practice Feminism At Home As Well
If you’re on the streets, advocating for women rights all day long, you need to continue that behaviour when you get home. Feminism has no place for double standards; respecting other women while mistreating the women in your house is not feminism. Like every good deed, feminism begins at home. Share the burden of house chores, cook meals and take care of your children the same way the women in your family do.
5. Don’t Wear The Badge Of Feminism To Impress Women
Yes, this happens a lot and yes, it’s as creepy as it sounds. Many men identify as feminists just to build a softer image among women. They present themselves differently than other stereotypical men. But if you truly care about women’s rights and sympathise with them, attracting them with your feminism should never be your goal.
6. Don’t Give Up
Being a feminist is anything but easy. And if you’re a man who decides to stand up for women and their rights, you’ll have to deal with a lot. People will call you names, your male friends may isolate you and you may have a hard time adjusting initially. But don’t let this pressure you into giving up. Focus on your purpose and stick to it because at the end of the day, it’s about equality, which benefits everyone – not just women!