12 things men can do to be better allies to women

What is a male ally? A male ally is someone who supports women, which includes associating and cooperating with them.

Michael Kimmel, a gender studies expert and sociologist, says, “We cannot fully empower women and girls without also engaging men and boys, and when we do, we find out that gender equality is a good thing for men as well as women.”

A good ally to women is someone who makes them feel he is standing up for them and with them. Also, an ally is someone who goes alongside you and fights for the same things you are fighting for.

Most importantly, a true ally believes that what you, as a woman, are fighting for, is good not just for you, but for the future of everyone.

What men can do to be better allies

1. Allies listen
Male and female experiences are very different. Some men like to fix problems. But too often, women don’t want to be fixed, just want to be listened to. In other words, allies don’t mansplain everything through their own lenses.

2. Allies speak up for the women in their lives
For example, when other men behave inappropriately in the workplace, allies call them on it. When a co-worker, for example, makes remarks that are suggestive, or gets touchy-feely, an ally says something. Whether he does it in private, one-on-one, or at the moment it occurs, or in front of others, he does not keep silent.

3. Allies acknowledge women’s experiences
When a woman feels uncomfortable in a situation and expresses it, an ally won’t just brush her feelings aside. Although he may not understand how she feels at the moment or be unable to empathise with her, he can choose to validate how she feels.

4. Allies are unafraid to get uncomfortable
When men listen to women, they will likely hear stories about fellow men that will make them cringe, wince and shudder. They just have to lean in, remember it’s not about them. And choose to keep on listening.

5. Allies educate themselves
They don’t wait, nor do they expect, the women around them to enlighten and educate them about women’s issues.

Instead, they take it upon themselves to stay “woke” by keeping abreast of the times through the news, social media, etc. They take responsibility to be informed about women’s issues.

6. Allies refuse to police women’s actions, bodies, and voices
They also call out those who do so. They trust that women dress in the way that they choose, act how they feel and speak in the way they feel like they should.

They don’t pressure the women around them to be more “ladylike”, “feminine”, or “proper”. In other words, they understand that there’s more than one way in life to be a woman.

7. Allies refuse to hold on to traditional ideas of masculinity
They know that men don’t have to be strong, silent types who don’t show emotions. They’re unafraid to show how happy or sad they are, or any other feeling that falls within the spectrum of the human experience.

8. Allies don’t expect to be the conquering hero or the knight in shining armour in their relationships
It’s not a question of someone rescuing someone else, and there’s a big power gap between the two of you. Allies know that in a relationship you are partners, you stand shoulder to shoulder in life.

9. Allies take care of their relationships with other women in their lives.
They have good relationships with their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, and other female relatives, friends, and co-workers. They recognise the value in each of these women and know they have a lot to learn from every single one.

10. Allies treat all women equally
Age, race, economic status, gender at birth, or any other identifier do not determine the way she’s treated. She deserves respect, period.

11. Allies mentor, sponsor and support women in the workplace
They fight for their female co-workers’ promotion and success. Providing guidance and advice to young professionals is important as they navigate their way through their careers — for both men and women.

Also, allies make sure women have as many opportunities for career advancement as men do.

12. Allies advocate for equal pay for men and women.
Enough said.

This article first appeared in thenewsavvy.com

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