How to be a (male) feminist ally

1) Read as much as you can about feminist issues and feminist critical thinking … and keep reading. Not just mass media either. In fact, with a very few exceptions, reports about feminists and what they do in the mass media are apt to be oversimplified, sensationalised or outright sexist.

2) Talk to women and mostly listen. Or ask questions. Try not to presuppose. Be curious as opposed to critical – for your own education and our good.

3) Think for yourself but do it mostly by yourself. It’s your work, not the work of feminists, to educate yourself. Don’t come to us knowing nothing and acting as if you know everything. We are most often treated by men as if we are in need of their advice and direction and we might just be a little sensitive about this. It’s YOUR job to treat us as true equals – because we are – and because when it comes to women’s lives we know more than you do. It’s true that we’ll make lots of mistakes – just like you. It’s not your job to tell us what they are. We are an exploited and oppressed sex class and it is up to us to define the terms of our own liberation.

4) There are differences among feminists in terms of our analyses and the strategies and tactics we decide are appropriate for our own liberation. Choose those whom you wish to support and then support them by advocating amongst men. Keep your critiques of individual feminists or feminist perspectives to yourselves. As a result of our exploitation and oppression there is horizontal fighting and even bullying between us sometimes. Leave this to us to sort out. Your “contributions” to the fight only make matters worse, divide us further, force us to choose between our supporters, make male opinions the issue instead of feminist opinions and generally stall our efforts. If you think you have some brilliant insight or thought that no woman has had that can save our movement or send us unerringly in the right direction – I don’t believe you. But feel free to send us a secret message via a feminist friend.

5) It’s a fact that you will hear some women/feminists say things that sound negative toward men and about men. Leave it alone. It is the result of our experiences of violence and oppression. There isn’t one single woman who isn’t placed somewhere on the continuum of violence against women either as a direct or vicarious victim. Let us deal with it and accept that a generations-long system of oppression and violence has done its work on some of us. Wait for us. And don’t take it personally – it just makes you sound defensive and it lengthens the time it takes for each of us to come to terms with our lives and the lives of our sisters. Be particularly attentive to this with women whom you know have experienced violence and those of us who work with them.

6) If you feel divided from women and excluded from feminism sometimes, for gawd sakes deal with it. Women are divided from men and excluded from social, cultural, economic and political life in a thousand ways. We have to deal with it. You should be able to do that much. And use it to motivate your actions on behalf of our liberation.

7) If you’re afraid to stand up against sexism, male violence against women and the exploitation of women – how do you think we feel? Speak up and speak out.

8) Your primary job is with men. And yourself.


*This piece was written with the input of women at Feministas of Canada.

Elizabeth Pickett is an internet-based feminist freedom fighter, a mother and grandmother, a blogger, and a poet, seething in Whitby, Ontario.
Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Aldous

    “It’s a fact that you will hear some women/feminists say things that sound negative toward men and about men. Leave it alone. It is the result of our experiences of violence and oppression.”

    Exactly! No individual woman should be responsible for her own behaviour for they have no agency! They are merely the confluence of various social forces and any “bad” behaviour can only be attributed to the only people in society with agency; white men. Can women behave poorly or be generally shitty individuals? Yes but you have to trace the cause to the real culprit: white men.

    • Meghan Murphy

      What a completely idiotic interpretation, Aldous. We are talking about SYSTEMS of oppression. Of course women behave shittily. That is not the same as having negative feelings about men (i.e. the oppressors of, and perpetrators of violence against, women).

    • Xiao Mao

      Look, another male piece of shit having a hissy fit about an article instructing men on being an ally to women. I do not help men and never will again. Men are a plague. They prove it every single day.

      • Xiao , dang im sorry youve had bad experiences. Maybe you should learn to tell who is really a man and who is not. id say if they really dont understand empowering women is empowering real manhood then they arent real men.

        • El

          So you’re saying that there are men who aren’t “real men”? What are they then? Magic imaginary creatures? Actual real life tangible men do that terrible stuff to women all the time. The use of “real men” is often used so that men can excuse themselves from the actions of other men. Because those men are not “real men” but you are.

      • Lizabeth

        Right, because the way a person’s body looks at birth totally dictates how good or evil a person will be. That’s not bigoted at all!

        If you can’t recognize a Poe, you’re stupid.

    • Missfit

      I don’t see the link between the first and the second paragraph of this comment. I see the tactic though. It seems that, again, ‘agency’ is used to silence any feeling or critique. Instead of reacting negatively to the regular reports of all sorts of violence against women worldwide, the continuous reduction of women to sex objects via popular culture and the sexism they witness in almost all areas of life, women should use their agency to neutralize their reactions, ‘choose’ to not let these affect them and just learn to deal with the status quo and not demand any changes. They should not express their anger, swallow it up along with anti-depressants why not. By focussing on women’s agency to basically accept (or better, embrace) misogyny, we are not holding men accountable for ultimately creating and perpetuating said misogyny. Seriously, women expressing negative feelings towards men is not a question of agency, it is a legitimate reaction to a woman-hating environment.

      • vouchsafer

        “seriously, women expressing negative feelings towards men is not a question of agency, it is a legitimate reaction to a woman hating environment”

        Missfit, you nailed it with that one.

        To educate any males from this end, my advice is this:
        Try to understand why feminists feel that today’s society is woman hating. Its because of what we call the air of “entitlement” to female sexuality.
        think of it this way: when you can have access to images of naked females with less effort than the snap of a finger, when you can walk into a strip club and get a lap dance any time you please at multiple convenient locations in your community, and find any number of objectionable things being done on camera to women’s genitalia to jerk off to, well then your living in a culture where the supposition is that men are entitled to women’s sexuality.

        This translates into what we call “the rape culture”.
        When you look at us with an air of entitlement to our sex organs, what you’re saying is”you can’t stop me.” even if you don’t mean that, that’s the message this society gives women.

        if you really want to help, think about the fact that the industries that have convinced you of this entitlement are billion dollar industries. They’re selling your entitlement to you at all of our expense, but you don’t have to buy into it.reject it.

        Stop jerking off to images that constitute sexual violence given that no woman in real life wants to be treated like that, realize that”entitlement” is something that’s being sold to you and that it doesn’t have to be that way, and think about the fact that even though you mostly aren’t an asshole deep inside, only a jackass leads with”you can’t stop me.”

        I personally feel that both men and women need to bear in mind that this concept is a construct. To get beyond the impasse, men need to reject the entitlement that’s being marketed to them, and women need to remember that while men that fall for this are dupes, the thing that’s driving it is capitalism. It can be unlearned if we continue to speak out against it.

        • Henke

          dear vouchsafer, thank you for this amazing post!

        • truthful nacho

          Not capitalism. Men’s jealousy of women’s natural superiority.

        • pat

          I just ended up on this page by my friend when I told her in confidence I am a feminist because I have brilliant older sisters who have lent me amazing perspective. I was at first mad when she said I can’t be a feminist, like she was denying my solidarity with my sisters who have struggled so much (especially one who is an engineer,) but I’m starting to get it. I’ll take my fight to men and mind my privilege when hearing women out, but I would like to just add I will keep using the title “feminist” to let men have a ballpark estimate of where I stand in discussion and maintain solidarity with the movement in male company. I’ll keep in mind to use my actions to let women know. This is a good website, and well written; keep up the good work.

    • “No individual woman should be responsible for her own behaviour for they have no agency! ”

      “Agency” is a bankrupt concept. Women have no more agency than men. Just relax.

    • Matt Markonis

      Why not simply identify the difference between what the author is actually talking about, and your actual point, Aldous, which I’ll assume for reasons of generosity, is that women are psychologically responsible (to themselves) for not turning feelings into beliefs, and to observe behavior rather than making generalizations. That’s pretty obvious, and much less insulting than your version of things, which has the author coming off like a psychotic. Lol.

      • Me

        I think Aldous’ actual point seems to be that he himself doesn’t have “agency”, i.e. he doesn’t have complete control and power over the real and imaginary women in his life to do whatever he pleases with them[sic] as he believes he should, therefore he can’t be held responsible for his behavior. There is a kind of logic in that. Simple prerogative won’t do. It’s emasculating to him that it’s not in his power to actually overstep his prerogative. This is a denial of his male human right and a threat to his very existence, all for which he blames women. It’s just pure hate and what he says is a complete reversal. Of course he is also right: as this is what masculinity is, I think we do in a very real sense want to deny him that.

    • is that a free ticket to blame people for bad womens choices to exhibit poor psychological traits in the guise of sexist values?

    • aldous , women have free moral agency and are responsible for their actions. I mean maybe i live in a fairy tale world where men empower women to empower true manhood , but hey i like my world and for you to say women can blame bad psychological traits on me is ridiculous.

      If its any consolation i have been screwed over by a bunch of women, but I realize were dealing with stigmas and paradigms not the truth of sexuality, those stigmas and paradigms are unisexual as is basic human dignity and proper treatment of others. Taking ownership over your flaws is unisexual. i personally think we displace a huge laundry list of things into the sexual jargon that really doesnt belong there.
      Women should decide womens issues not men, if women want to come back and throw the past 2k years of religious oppression in our faces then i think wed better pony up and grow up a little. That being said no one is perfect there are flaws on both sides that both sides need to own and take responsibility for.
      I personally think even the negative aspects of feminism are just part of the learning process. Real men will just roll with it and learn as will real women because were not using gender as a weapon since the mind is the problem and again psychology is unisexual to a large degree however it is altered by the personal experience of gender.

  • Of course a dude would show up as the first commenter and be the reason why the article needed to be written in the first place.

  • Bastien

    Thank you very much for taking the time to give us advice.

  • Henke

    Splendid stuff!
    Thank you Meghan!

  • probably guess who

    Fantastic piece. Thank you. I might print this out and stick it on my wall! I have made many mistakes and probably always will, so these articles instructing us how to behave are always needed and much appreciated. I understand it is not your job as women to educate us men on how to be allies, but it is appreciated when its done, so thank you.
    As a dudebrain, it is sometimes very difficult to self educate ourselves on issues which bring our whole upbringings and beliefs crashing down, as we become aware our privilege and entitlement causes so much oppression. But it is vital we remove ourselves from the discussion personally, esp when we hear “negative” things about men! Although I see ut as not negative against men per se, but rightly negative against male privilege and entitlement (if that makes sense?) Of course if I am wrong here feel free to correct me.
    Anyway, I do try and listen to all sides of feminism often from groups that do not get on. Sometimes this causes problems to, but I feel it is imperative ro listen to feminist views from women even if you disagreewith them?
    But anyway, thanks again. From a man who still needs to learn a LOT and stfual

  • thanks for the information, it is helpful for men new to feminism

  • 0) Stop calling yourself a feminist. It just makes you look like a douchebag and a potential rapist.

  • sporenda

    Thanks Meghan for these great articles.
    The pros and cons of feminist allies is something feminists have to evaluate and re-evaluate constantly.

    And the way committed feminists were taken in by manipulative so-called allies like Svyatsy and Swayzer shows this question has to be clarified, brutally so if necessary.
    At some time in my feminist “career”, I was so fed up with the disruption caused by the inclusion of allies in feminist groups that I thought the costs were not worth the trouble.

    Some men want to be admitted in feminist groups for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with supporting feminism, and everything to do with typical male agendas.
    For instance: the notion that men should always be around to see what groups of women are up to.
    Deep down, it’s like they think women should never be left alone , that groups of “women only” are per se rebellious and that there should always be some men in attendance to control and lead them.
    Or there is the desire to be listened to, catered to, mothered and to receive from “compassionate” feminists the attention and emotional support they don’t get from other men.
    A variation of that: “I want to be a feminist, so you have to take me by the hand, be my teacher and explain every darn feminist thing to me from A to Z.”
    Another type of hidden agenda is to try to divest feminist time and energy to some other cause (trans, socialism, green etc)
    And unsurprisingly, weird sexual motivations: “I want to fuck a feminist (or a lesbian), it’s a challenge”; “I am looking for a dominatrix”.
    I am not kidding you, this is stuff I witnessed!

    Mostly the problem is that a number of so-called feminist allies still expect, consciously or unconsciously, that feminists relate to them in typical female fashion.
    They still expect special treatment, babying, being kowtowed to, that their needs and views be given priority.

    Not only have I no patience for that, I get very annoyed when (even tried and true) feminists roll over and behave the way these dudes expect them to.

    On the other hand, I am acutely aware that women’s liberation cannot happen unless men change. Feminist allies are best positioned to work on these changes because they know firsthand how male domination operates.
    So this is what they can do best for feminism (cf John Stoltenberg): criticize, attack and undermine male supremacy from the inside.
    In order to do that, their attention should be directed not so much toward feminists but toward men: other men, and themselves.

    And yes, on a personal level, I came across a few feminist allies who did not try to lecture me on how to do feminism and behave like decent human beings overall.
    And if they lapsed occasionnally, they were willing to acknowledge it and work on it.

    • lizor

      “And unsurprisingly, weird sexual motivations: “I want to fuck a feminist (or a lesbian), it’s a challenge””

      Yes. I have come across this “boning a feminist/lesbian as a special badge” behaviour. It echoes rape, IMO.

      • Henke

        I have to add to this that so many men that are disliking feminism often uses this kind of saying towards men that are supporting feminism.
        “You only say/ do this so you can get laid and be liked by women”.
        Its more common than not I must say.

        • Me

          How weird is it that you can actually be accused for “just wanting to be liked by women”? It’s like that’s even worse than being accused of “just trying to get laid.” Angry, sad men. Complete failures to life.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Because why would you want WOMEN (non-humans) to like you? Pathetic, right?

  • Matt Markonis

    I think it’s probably better to look inward and figure out what you want in an ally than to instruct others through self-help. Isn’t that always a paradox?

    Just because you can get Stoltenberg to say what any number of other people might say at any given time doesn’t mean this isn’t marketing for a certain kind of indoctrination…

    To assume that a man hasn’t read widely in feminist issues is, in this day and age, to assume him to be dumb. Yes, the general society is dumb. And chauvinistic, obviously, because supremacy without merit is chauvinism. And obviously much of what goes on between MRA and feminists is dumb, etc.

    I still don’t think that curiosity is oppositional to critical thinking, and just because women have empowered themselves to speak to men about their behavior, it’s not as though men aren’t in touch with what’s wrong with themselves, and there’s plenty of healthy dialogue that could go on there, etc.

    It seems the self-help methodology, as one person said to me, is fraught with contradictions, and I would rather see a site with a lot of “What I want in a feminist ally” type memes than one instruction guide that seems to me very limited.

    I’ve considered myself a feminist or an ally since I was about as old as I can remember, and consciously since I was 16-17, so there’s a lot more deep masculinity that needs to go into the dialogue about informing men as to what constitutes healthy male feminism. People like Robert Bly do that, they teach psychosocial and mythopoetic lessons, etc.

    As Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill and others have pointed out, speaking truth to power is very limited, because power already knows the truth.

    Just some thoughts. By no means comprehensive.

    • Meghan Murphy

      1) You are the problem, Matt
      2) What is this “self-help methodology” you speak of?

      (For commenters/readers — some further background on Matt’s feminism/mansplaining:

      • Matt Markonis

        1.) You can call it mansplaining (which as either [a.] portmanteau of the stereotypical idea that men are not smart, but think they are, which is of course sexist, or [b.] neologism that is rather more flirting with the idea of expressing something than expressing it) if you like, but if you would prefer to speak like an adult, I welcome it. Fighting fair is essential, and I would prefer to practice nonviolence than absorb a lack of respect, but I can do either. It frustrates me to receive attitude instead of significant feedback.

        I’d also prefer to look beyond the latest feminist fad and more at the core issues than the identity politics with which you and so many other young feminists, men and women, bemuse themselves, instead of taking action, and at the society, neuro-marketing, and branding (which is largely what feminism has become) endemic to having a conversation with someone who is either younger than me or presumes I know nothing for some ulterior reason… but, calling individuals “the problem” is just about as worthless an analysis as you can get if you refuse to explain why, it’s an assertion, not an argument, and given how little you know about me, and given that my beliefs are what they are regardless of your political and moral opinion of me, (they’re not going to change easily for reasons of vacuous contempt, because they’re based on my education, personal history, life scripts, etc. it appears, or some other quality you can glean from my ostensibly valid critiques, since you haven’t addressed them), to be perfectly frank, I hold myself accountable so that others (women, in particular) don’t have to, and in reminding myself how many women would be appalled at your ideas about me, I’ll refrain from leveling any disparaging remarks at you that aren’t constructive, which has of course been my MO if you actually review said “mansplaining.”

        You’re free to express yourself as you like, of course, in other forms than ad hominem and I would likewise welcome it (although, of course, if I really am “the problem” ad hominem is more than valid). And I would love to hear all about how much you know of my problematic nature and instincts.

        2.) I want a more empirically grounded feminism, and the concept I’m referencing in regard to self-help was arrived at with the help of a feminist friend and sexual assault hotline counselor who is a friend of mine. She’s also a biologist, and we had a conversation about spirituality over lunch that reminded me of a comment she made about how she thought self-help was fraught with contradictions (which is true and perceptive, Jung’s concept of the shadow, which is a helpful mythopoetic form for understanding men as well as women, was essentially an expression of the self-contradiction of repressing one’s legitimate aspirations because of external criticism (society). The difference between empowerment and entitlement, I suppose. Like the entitlement to presume knowing anything about someone based on their political ideas, and to dismiss them instead of risking something. Obviously, I’m not seeking to drag you down, so what’s the harm in addressing the substance of my comments?

        I don’t falter at your disparagement, and I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest a woman shouldn’t either (whether the verbal abuse is hateful or merely passive aggressive), but then my views are anarchist, and I don’t represent the safety valve feature of liberalism that protects women via the enhancements to the male ego of property, which seems to mean or has meant the entitlement to women as property in exchange for labor or as a result of privilege, which is not a revolutionary insight, but is a necessary logical correlate of Locke, etc. I’d rather emphasize autonomous cooperation, and I don’t think any of that is controversial, and it’s edifying to continue seeing young women realize it, but I just want to add that the radical action isn’t happening in the USA in regards to feminism, what’s needed here is obviously more complex than feminism, and I have not confined myself to the ideology for such reasons. In other countries it’s more cut and dry, and while I regard Stoltenberg highly as a moralist, etc., his attitude is still rather vulgar to me in terms of strategy.

        I’d like to see feminism clarify its moral position by adopting a dual policy of embracing Manifest Destiny, ironically, in order to address the responsibility of the United States specifically toward Haiti and Cuba, and ultimately in trade to Mexico, and extend a more vulgar analysis of women’s rights to the hemisphere at large, since we’ve tacitly assumed responsibility for it. But that’s a consciousness issue that I realize might seem to be a non sequitur. That’s entirely the point. I’d like to change the conversation and talk about the most under-privileged, not to the elision of others who suffer, but there’s also a line between adversity/suffering and self-victimization/victimhood. That’s what I meant regarding self-help. I often find branded feminist topics to be a little self-indulgent/narcissistic and irresponsible…

        That doesn’t mean stop addressing identity internally as a movement and continuing dialogue (it’s perfectly easy with the internet, etc.) and I’m also encouraged that you don’t have to drop $90k on a feminist education for that reason, which isn’t a practical option for most people.

        But as regards sliding ideas through feminist friends, which I read in one or the other of these two articles, (I don’t need to be led by the nose, thanks!) Another internet trend that I find over-utilized is the passive aggressive hyperlink… You’ll notice if I reference an idea I actually explain it, instead of leading you around by the nose, which used to be a courtesy of discourse, at least in continental philosophy, not “mansplaining.”

        What I take from this is that men are generally not wanted in the movement as peers, but as lightning rods, which may be right. Men generally risk less by taking a stand against other men, and it’s generally received differently, but it doesn’t mean that I have to be treated like a pariah for being an intelligent man who presumes to talk about a few deeper issues once and awhile on the internet in my spare time with people who are basically ideologues in my view. What else explains such contempt for discourse?

        • Meghan Murphy

          I’m only posting this comment (I’ve deleted several other of his mansplainy essays in order to prevent him from dominating every conversation with his pseudo-intellectual b.s.) to provide further examples of how NOT to ally/how to spot faux-allies. Take heed.

          To Matt. Please stop commenting here. You are embarrassing yourself and making actual male allies look bad

          • stephen m

            Meghan, Douglas Adams quotes come to mind for Mansplaining. I hope that the men who read these can laugh at themselves and their folly like I do.

            “If there’s anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.”

            “I’m so great even I get tongue-tied talking to myself.”

            “Much to his annoyance, a thought popped into his mind. It was very clear and very distinct, and he had now come to recognize these thoughts for what they were. His instinct was to resist them.”

          • Meghan Murphy

            Ha! Priceless. Thanks Stephen.

        • Rye


          No offense, but your comment is obscure and I feel like I have just read something postmodern.

        • Julian

          Dude, shut the hell up. You are mansplaining in an article EXPLICITLY TELLING YOU NOT TO DO THAT. How are you this dense? It’s people like you who make it worse for those of us guys who actually do listen and try to be good allies, because you dicks always come rolling in with your pseudo-intellectual bullshit trying to dominate a conversation you barely understand, considering you can’t comprehend what women go through by virtue of not being one.

    • lizor

      Quit with your incoherent lecturing, Matt. Your self-help analogy does not make any sense and no one GOT Stoltenberg to parrot certain tropes as you insinuate.

      You post here arrogantly attempting to tell Meghan what’s what is exactly what this post and others including Stoltenberg’s work addresses.

      If you want to control and dominate, go work as a dog trainer.

  • sporenda

    Matt: “My critique of this sort of ideologically driven that feminism has about words is that it’s centrist or center-right, pretty divisive, when there are much clearer issues to get behind than sticks and stones. Call it debutante values, but if feminism can’t look beyond it’s own creature comforts then it’s problematic for me.”

    Pretentious pseudo-intellectual rant. Anybody can figure out exactly what that means?

    “Just because you can get Stoltenberg to say what any number of other people might say at any given time doesn’t mean this isn’t marketing for a certain kind of indoctrination…”

    This is ridiculous and insulting.
    Nobody “got” John Stoltenberg to say anything; he is an independent thinker fully in control of what he writes.

    This is the oldest trick in the book; whenever a man declares himself pro-feminist, there are always guys like you who barge in to play patriarchal police and bring back the errant male in line.
    And typically they do that by shaming him for being indoctrinated and manipulated by females.

    Being a feminist ally is not easy: for one thing, the macho brigade will systematically try to discredit any man who defects from patriarchal duty.

    • Matt Markonis

      Social conservatism emphasizes respect in a way that real liberalism doesn’t. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. My point is about a sort of feminism that wants to order it’s own nest, via repudiations of larger issues like poverty in the 3rd world, which is the feminist issue, for which the citizens of the U.S. bear inestimable responsibility, but which seems largely dwarfed by an emphasis on respect… to which I reply that respect is a luxury many people around the world can’t afford.

      Nor would I hate on Stoltenberg, yet my points remain concerning his text, specifically “Refusing To Be a Man,” it’s not that revolutionary, and I find him sometimes pandering in his attitudes. But there’s room for a variety of masculinities, in my view, and much of what he says is valuable, it’s just that a good many others feel the same. I’m sure I don’t know why you choose to take the things I say so negatively.

    • @ Sporenda,

      What’s easy about the macho brigade is they’re obvious and easy to dismantle.

      You know what’s really alarming is when feminist women have said that I’m being manipulated and indoctrinated by radical feminists. If you compare the comments on

      to my own blog:

      You see a little of that going on from my female readers (dangerous water here, my partner is one them!). My feeling is this is the difference between status qua activism with radical activism. Despite being encouraged by my female feminist friends to stay away from Feministcurrent, I’m sticking around, because I think it’s on to something deeper than the prescribed, legal, and patriarchally supported routes of resistance.

      Now, the tricky part is not responding as a male that their 3rd wave or post feminist is some watered down version…Do you have a suggestion on how to respond to feminist women who say, “Stay away from those radfems?”

      • annika

        This comment feels vaguely manipulative to me. Maybe it’s telling us that you “know who the real enemies are, ” meaning third wave feminists rather than MRA types. Plus the whole “those bad feminists tell me to stay away from you but I think you’re great so where’s my good ally cookie.” And finally in the link you provided you try to elicit the sympathy of the women you just condemned by saying that the commenters here are mean to you. Things that make you go hmmm….

        As for your last question, talk to other feminists as you would anyone in a respectful debate. At the risk of being mean, let me just say that your solipsism dressed up in simple country boy rhetoric is kind of creepy. Sorry, I’ve met enough white boys who “discovered” Zen to be on my guard.

        • Your biggest enemy is always the ideology next to you. That’s always how it works… I think.

  • polarcontrol

    “8) Your primary job is with men. And yourself.”

    This. Should be repeated over and over.

  • marv

    Once again it has been proven that great men are an illusion because any true male associate of feminists would renounce masculinity. Thanks Matt for providing the “empirically grounded” evidence for male hazing, posturing and elitism. You are a true intellectual of patriarchy.

  • “Just because you can get Stoltenberg to say what any number of other people might say at any given time doesn’t mean this isn’t marketing for a certain kind of indoctrination…”

    Now now Matt. Don’t deny his agency.

    • Matt Markonis

      I’m questioning the significance of your interpretation. All this talk about “agency” is so much Thieves’ cant as far as I’m concerned. Speaking truth to power is fine and all, but why do you presume people need a reality check on the autonomy of others? Unless I’m a Fascist in an anarchist disguise…

      • Wysteria

        Okay, Matt Markonis, I meant to leave a comment instead of a reply to you. Please forgive me, but your comment had no context to me, even though I briefly read it. I have been a feminist all my life, a female feminist, and I know that men are feminists too, good men, anyway. Often they don’t even realize when they’re feminists, due to media brainwashing, but still portray all of the signs of feminism, such as believing in equality, a woman’s right to get proper birth control when the companies are paying for viagra but not birth control, yada yada, I know some men can also be jerks, some are rapists (a small percentage), some beat women up, some eat people, and there are women just like that, too. I have lived through an earth that has been both a heaven and a hell, and sometimes a really really bad hell, and, yes, I did spend some time hating men before I came back to reality and realized that only some douchebags are like that, and they should be avoided at all costs, even when you want to kill them. I wonder how many women are plagued by that problem, returning to their abusers again and again just to try to kill them because they fuck with them over the phone so much and in real life. That used to be me; I grew up and married a good man, a feminist (and got a job that suited me, that too). Don’t give me any of that feminist ally bullshit. Men go through all the same shit we do. They say 1 in 4 women get raped and one in 6 men get raped, but I figure a few of those men are just not admitting it because they don’t want to think about it. Let’s as a species stop denigrating each other and move forwards.

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  • Andrew Cole

    I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I just wanted to say thank you for writing this article. I don’t usually refer to myself as a feminist, but sometimes my wife does, lol. I don’t know what is so hard for men to understand about treating women like equals? Women generally deserve a lot more respect than they get, and it makes me sad.

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  • Will Neeley

    Great Article. As a person constantly trying to learn more to be a better ally this was very helpful. Getting men on-board with the cause does not end at exposing their privilege but also showing how they can benefit from gender equality but not in a way that undermines the struggle of women.

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  • Michael

    I don’t agree with the segregation of debate on male issues and female issues. My greatest ally in the fight for dealing with male issues is feminism. The populist feminist opinions makes a resounding impact on gender roles, and the effect on one gender role isn’t mutually exclusive. I should be able to comment on these opinions – male feminists are not unequal to female feminists. I am sympathetic to the oppression of female opinion on their own gender role, but I don’t think the answer is to ask men to not opine.

    I agree, I have no right to podium or an audience. But I disagree that Elizabeth Pickett and the feministcurrent speaks on behalf of even a majority of self-identifying feminists. Feminism is about the equality or eradication of gender. It is not simply about women, but inter-sex, transgender, and a variety of issues who’s solutions definitely necessitate actions from cisgender hetero-normative men. The way forward is to make feminism an inclusive membership in which differently identifying genders, sexes and orientations band together to come up with solutions and fight the patriarchy. Statements like this are a small part of why cisgender hetero-normative men are so quick to shout “reverse-sexism” and helps perpetuate the false dichotomy of feminism as women’s power versus men’s power – when it’s really about each individual’s power to choose their own path. Admittedly, it is only a small part, but it is the kind of opinion that would be quoted as representing all of feminist opinion.

    I am incredibly sympathetic to all those suffering discrimination of all kinds. However, my race, sex and orientation does not say very much about me as a person. Saying my opinions on populist feminist opinions should be “kept to myself” is a bit hypocritical, prejudice, discriminatory and overall dangerous to the causes of feminism (abolishing prejudice and discrimination based on gender and sex). I attempt to be polite when I disagree, and I usually attempt to be very reasonable when I disagree with a feminist opinion. But it is unfair to blame the infighting among feminism on male feminists’ opinions. I will admittedly never understand the torment felt by women speaking out on the issue, but to diminish a man’s feelings on the issues of speaking out for the sole reason that he is a man is only better because it is not systematic on the same scale. It is no better in principle.

    • marv

      Read all the comments in the thread. Your “man’s feelings on the issues” have been addressed numerous times. Freedom of speech is not absolute. A man telling feminists they are “hypocritical”, “prejudice[d]” and “discriminator” towards male intrusion is a sexist man. It’s like a white person warning people of colour of reverse racism. Somehow I know you won’t admit the astonishing arrogance of your position but will only continue to defend your perceived self-righteousness and importance. Do everyone a favour by ignoring the voices in your head and offerng the sound of sheer silence.

      • Michael

        No, this article conflates gender and sex. I never claimed to be born of the male sex or socialized in the male gender. So, it’s more like a larger minority telling a smaller minority they aren’t a minority. The assumption that any of you know anything about who I am or what I’ve been through based on what gender I *currently* express alone is the exact discrimination I’m talking about. Not every male-identifying human being is going to want to out themselves. Period. Especially to a community that isn’t accepting of their gender in general. And they shouldn’t have to in order to be heard. Thanks to feminism, human beings are more able to express whatever gender they choose than ever before. But don’t tell me I can’t speak because I choose to identify as a gender I feel comfortable with. Don’t presume to know what experiences I have had because my name is Michael and I am male. And don’t demand me validate the hardships I’ve had to go through to express my gender. Take the time to become educated on expression of the male gender – if you want help, I am willing to teach you. But saying men shouldn’t speak on feminist issues – forces everyone of the male gender to validate his experiences as a minority before anyone will take him seriously. This is dividing alphabet soup in a way I do not like – as a human being.

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  • Thanks for this informative and thought provoking post. In response to #6, 7 & 8, to become better allies to women’s liberation, men have a lot of personal and political work to do amongst ourselve. I would suggest adding a #9 to the list: Join a pro-feminist men’s group. Vital that it be a pro-feminist men’s group. Be careful to avoid groups associated with “Men’s Rights Activism (MRAs)”, “Father’s Rights”, “Mythopoetic Men”, “Men Going Our Own Way (MGOW)”, “Pick Up Artists (PUA)” and almost every other misogynist “manosphere blog” backlash group.

    Pro-feminist men’s resources:
    National Organization for Men Against Sexism
    We Hunted the Mammoth (Humorous rebuttals to MRAs)
    And a Facebook Pro-Feminist Men’s Group, men

  • Haváin Þannhaxíh

    like the empathy paragraph

  • Trods

    Thanks for this, wish I had read it sooner.