Men, please listen to the women in your lives. Understand that they might know more on a subject than you, and don’t correct them or undermine their knowledge. Listen and believe them when they explain to you the types of oppression they’ve faced. Listen when they tell you how you’ve been part of that oppression. Direct others to listen to them, too.
Apologize for the times you judged a political leader on her appearance, and not her ideas. For the times your friend made a crass rape joke and you didn’t call him out. For the times you made a crass rape joke. For the times you made women feel unheard, or unsafe. For the times you used feminism as an excuse to speak over women instead of learning from them and listening to them. For the times you expected a “gold star” for respecting a woman. For the times you assumed loving your mom was the same as being a feminist (it’s not). For the times you assumed how a woman should be or what she should do. Then work to change these behaviours.
Include all women in your feminism. Not just white women, not just straight women, not just cis women, not just thin women, not just able-bodied women, not just neurotypical women, not just middle and upper-class women. All women: trans women, femmes, racial minorities, sexual minorities, disabled women, religious minorities, low-income women, women with mental illnesses, disabled women, fat women. Believe them when they tell you that the oppression they face is different and intersectional. Don’t assume all women are “equal” because white women face fewer workplace obstacles than they did twenty years ago. Remember facts like: white women make 77 cents to your dollar, but Hispanic women make 56 cents.
4 . Amplify
Your privilege sadly means your voices are more likely to be heard than ours. You’re more likely to be taken seriously, more likely to be elected to public office, more likely to be hired in high positions, more likely to have your writing and art produced and published. Use this privilege, not to speak on behalf of women, but to draw attention to their voices. Where are they being silenced? Don’t take credit for their ideas — direct those who are listening to you right to the source, to the powerful women who are silenced every day. Don’t speak over us.
The phrase “check your privilege” has come to be used as a joke, but it’s actually super important. Men, notice the moments throughout your day when your privilege shines through. Notice the times when you feel safe walking home after midnight, but your female friends travel in groups. Notice the times that a co-worker assumes you are in a higher position than your female colleague. Notice the objectification of women’s bodies in media. Notice the vilification of women who speak up about sexual assault or harassment. Realize that privilege comes at the expense of women’s oppression. Realize that you can still benefit from male privilege even if you come from a different oppressed group, like a racial group or the LGBTQ community. And once you’ve done that, acknowledge it and work to dismantle it.