I was looking around for something that gives strategies that men can do to prevent rape and rape culture. Outside of Jackson Katz’s “10 Things Men Can Do To Stop Rape,” I didn’t find anything that was more recent. I put this list together as a handout for the male-identified training. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with this, but I feel there isn’t anything that is just a quick list of how to interrupt rape culture. Comments, questions, criticisms encouraged.
Male Ally Tips – Things You Can Do Every Day!
Being an ally isn’t just about attending trainings and volunteering with RVA – it’s mostly about the way we carry ourselves on a day-to-day basis. With that in mind, here are some things to be mindful of…
- Watch how much space you take up. Often when we are sitting on the train or bus, men tend to take up more space than women. In some cases, it may be because we are physically bigger than women, but in others it is an unearned (and unnoticed) sense of entitlement. When you ride the train, compare and contrast how much space men take up versus women. Remember that your size can be intimidating.
- Learn to step back… From an early age, boys are encouraged to voice our opinions and to speak when we feel something needs to be said. However, that can lead us to dominate a conversation or meeting. Instead, practice not talking. Let others, particularly female-identified people, speak first. If they have said something you thought about saying, you don’t need to echo it.
- …and to step up! Use your voice for good – when you hear other men telling a sexist joke, or statements that support rape myths, or words that belittle survivors of domestic and sexual violence, interject! You’ll be surprised at how effective (and appreciated!) a statement such as “I really don’t think that (joke/comment/remark) is funny” really is.
- Attend feminist events. If male-identified people are welcomed at the space, show your support by attending talks by feminist authors, film screenings by female filmmakers, and concerts with feminist performers.
- Support feminist media. Go one step further – if we want to put a stop to rape culture, we need to work on dismantling it. Supporting alternatives to mainstream, corporate-owned media is imperative. Get a subscription to Bitch magazine, buy albums of feminist performers and buy tickets to movies that feature strong female leads and/or positive depictions of gender non-conforming folks. As the old saying goes, “money talks”- if companies see these movies doing well they are more likely to continue making them!
- Volunteer! If you have the time, volunteer for a rape crisis or domestic violence center. Men NEED to be doing this work. Most of the time violence is perpetrated, a man is the perpetrator. This is not being anti-male, it’s just being honest. Call your local rape crisis or domestic violence center and find out how you can help. You may not be able to work directly with survivors, but you can do prevention work – which involves talking to other men – and that is equally important.
- Make your space feminist. We don’t want to take up more space than necessary, but rather, to make the space we do take up feminist. If you work in an office, push for a sexual assault 101 training. Hang up posters in your cubicle that are supportive of gender-equality. If you’re a member of a fraternity, do a service project that benefits a local rape crisis or DV center. It’s possible to do this in any space – not just the social work field!
- Be an active bystander. Obviously if we see a sexual assault taking place we should intervene, as anyone would do. However, sexual violence exists on a continuum. Verbal street harassment and groping are also forms of sexual violence, though they are commonly accepted. If you see a man talking to a woman on the train, ask the woman if the man is bothering her. When you see a man taking upskirt pictures on his iPhone, tell him that is not only illegal but wrong. If a man grabs a woman, tell him, in your own words, to leave her alone. Most of these behaviors continue because the men who perpetrate the actions feel justified since they have never had another man call them out on it. Equally important, we want to think of our own safety – intervene if you feel comfortable, but we’re not superheroes, nor do we want to feel that just because we are men we need to be “strong” enough to fix everything. Taking your own safety account is imperative!
- Reflect the type of masculinity you want to see in the world. If we want to break the association of masculinity and violence, we need to portray the type of masculinity we want to see. This means allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, being nurturing and supportive of children, taking responsibility for our actions, and apologizing when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings. It also means supporting men who are “outside the gender box,” as well as supporting women and gender non-conforming folks. If we continue to harbor the negative qualities of masculinity, we can’t effectively change it.
- Be accountable. Finally, recognize the ways that you are being oppressive. Always keep yourself in check. Being an ally means being accountable to feminists and to female-identified and gender non-conforming people. Though we may have the best of intentions, it is common to make mistakes. That’s how privilege works, after all – we will always be unlearning sexism. Being an ally is a lifelong process, and you’ve started on the road to making the world a safer place for women and girls (as well as boys and men!). That should be commended. However, we do not deserve praise for doing the work we should be doing; for taking responsibility. Make sure you are self-critical, self-aware, and knowledgeable about your words and actions.
Like this, without the commendations for allies in #10.
These are all things you should do, if you’re a man!
- Martin Robbins: You almost need a sort of training arena where you can say stupid things to feminists and not get shot down in public. When I was struggling to understand patriarchy, I found feminist blogs unhelpful. I was asking questions I now realise were a bit stupid, but out of naivety rather than anything else.
- Laurie Penny: I’ve thought about this a lot and unfortunately, I do think female feminists are going to have to be a bit more forgiving and generous in our corrections from time to time, if we can do that without diluting the message – firm but fair. Which of course sucks balls, because we’ve spent our lives being told to be forgiving and generous and make men feel better.
- Martin Robbins: Well, it’s a balance, because while I agree with that, men also need to…er…man up, and accept that we all have a responsibility to educate ourselves. We do need male feminists, but it’s hard to know where to start, especially as a writer. Plus, feminism shouldn’t be just for women. I’ve had feminists tell me I’m not allowed to call myself a feminist, and I hate that.
- my additions: in my opinion, this guy - though a self-identified feminist - still comes off to me as pretty entitled. There are issues in my eyes with a lack of analysis of how patriarchy affects men, but it's obvious why it's not been a focus from non-male feminists, and in my eyes it's only really male feminists who should take any research/analysis on that forward. Also, men getting defensive about their privilege is mirrored with basically every other axis of oppression, and I really don't think it necessitates a change in language. also also, men shouldn't really have any say in who counts as a feminist and who doesn't... sorry.
- my constructive points: I definitely think that men should be the ones that provide the sort of "training area" Martin talks about, with the obvious caveat that men shouldn't be the sole arbiter on feminism and there'd need to be definite oversight to make sure the privilege didn't run away with itself. I'd be down with helping to set up a forum/Facebook group providing this service, so that (mostly female) feminists don't get the stupid often-offensive questions from noobies to feminism constantly grating on their nerves.
I’ve noticed a lot of “allies” on tumblr - anti-racist/anti-sexist/anti-ableist/whatever - using sarcasm and snide comments when calling people out
you really should stop doing that. if you’re a woman calling out sexism, be as snarky as you want, obv - but if you’re a dude, then you can’t just get snarky with mansplainers
being even a halfway decent ally involves actually trying to work with people with the same privilege as you to go through the difficult 101 stuff that they almost definitely won’t (want to) understand e.g. why ‘power plus prejudice’ is a far more sensible definition of oppression than just ‘prejudice’, and why prejudice is often well-warranted
P.S. I’m not as good as I should be at this either. this is as much a note to me as anyone else
Doesn’t really cover any new ground in the long-running and kinda hackneyed debate, but I quite liked this paragraph - it’s often what matters that counts, not what you call yourself.
The rest of the article has a cissexist tone though :X