Men Need to Get More Active In Feminism
Women shouldn’t be the only ones working to dismantle systems of oppression that affect both men and women.
Since men and women both perpetuate misogyny, it is ineffective for feminists to only focus on how women can change their behavior in order to dismantle oppression. By excluding men from feminism, men are not being educated on how their actions contribute to the oppression of others. Even if all women became feminists, there would still be men perpetuating toxic ideas. People need to acknowledge that “since men are the primary agents maintaining and supporting sexism and sexist oppression, they can only be successfully eradicated if men are compelled to assume responsibility for transforming their consciousness and the consciousness of society as a whole” (hooks 81). Men have to acknowledge the ways that their gender gives them privilege and use that privilege to fight sexism.
The first way that men can become a part of feminism is by monitoring their own behavior and how it contributes to the oppression of people. Men need to unlearn toxic masculinity because it harms both men and women. Toxic masculinity is created by ideas of what a “real man” should be and it enforces rigid gender roles. When a man deviates from anything categorized as masculine, he is criticized for his behavior. One of the ways that toxic masculinity harms men is by limiting the emotions that men are allowed to show. As a result, men do not learn healthy ways of coping with their emotions. Ignoring their emotions leads some men to take their frustrations out on the men and women around them. By being critical of toxic masculinity, men are able to see how the idea of being a “real man” leads to violence against the people closest to them. Men who unlearn toxic masculinity also stop policing the behavior of other men who choose to deviant from their gender roles.
Another way for men to be feminist allies is for men to call out sexism. Women often struggle with calling out sexism because calling out sexism can put them in a dangerous situation. Even when women choose to call out a man who is being sexist, they are rarely taken seriously. However, men can use their privilege to call out sexism because men typically value the opinion of men more than the opinion of women. While it is frustrating that men need to speak on behalf of women because some men won’t take women seriously, this method might be the only way to reach sexist men. By calling out sexism, men use their privilege to challenge the patriarchy and show their solidarity to women.
Men can contribute to fighting sexist oppression by using their platform to spread feminism. Since men have more representation in both media and government than women, they have more opportunities to address feminist issues and reach a broad audience. Men are also more likely to be receptive to feminism if another man is explaining how men benefit from fighting sexist oppression. Alternatively, men in positions of power can use their privilege to give women the opportunity to voice their experiences to a large group of people. While in some cases it is important for men to vocalize why they support feminism, it is also equally important for women to be given the adequate resources to resist sexist oppression. By amplifying the voices of women, men prevent themselves from speaking over the experiences of women.
As a comrade, it is important for men to know how to be active listeners. The most common mistake that feminist allies make is to speak over the people that they are trying to help. Active listening is important because it shows women that their allies actually care about what they have to say. By being active listeners, men are able to attain more accurate insight into the struggles that women face. Active listening prevents allies from speaking over feminists because it prioritizes what women have to say. Allowing women to speak for themselves is important because women do not share a universal experience. Men need to listen to the experiences of as many women as they can so that they do not perpetuate the idea that all women have a universal experience.
Feminists need to work in solidarity with men in order to dismantle sexist oppression. Men are affected by the patriarchy as well because men also face rigid gender roles. Since men can perpetuate the oppression of women, they should be held responsible for unlearning their toxic behavior. By working together, men and women would have a better understanding of each others struggle and what they could do to help each other out. The struggles of men and women are interlinked because women and men coexist with each other daily. Sexism can’t be eradicated if women are the only ones working to abolish a system that is upheld by men.