1. Listen first before you react
Women deserve to be able to share their stories with the world, despite the politics of respectability. If their perspectives make you feel hurt, attacked, confused, etc. think about why. Is it shame, guilt, or legitimate offense? It may be that something they said triggered an emotion in you that you don’t fully understand, and eagerly would like to defend. But take a moment to investigate that feeling, then respond. Remember: you don’t know what it means to be woman better than a woman does. So give her the benefit of the doubt by ruminating on her experience and not immediately superseding it with yours.
2. Feminism isn’t “Emasculating”
Feminists are not anti-men. They aren’t some horde of Amazons coming to pillage “Man Town” and enslave its population. And the vast majority of feminists will contend that a true feminist believes in the equality of the sexes, not the superiority of one over another. That’s the point. In addition, Feminists come in all shapes and sizes, from working business women to stay-at-home moms. They are what they choose to be, because it’s about the freedom of self-determination, not being delegated to a specific role by men. So if it is “emasculating”, it may simply be that women are taking back choices that men should have never had.
3. If you have questions, Research
Be knowledgeable of before you offer your opinion in a discussion about or with Feminist ideas. Ask a Feminist what books or articles you should read, what discussions or shows to watch, what classes to take. They can point you in the right direction. Don’t remain oblivious to ideas in Feminism that you don’t fully understand, would like to see nuanced, or just flat out disagree with. Which leads to the next point…
4. Disagreeing with certain ideas doesn’t make you sexist
You shouldn’t be scared to have disagreements within Feminist discussions. It doesn’t automatically make you some evil male bigot. For example, there has been Feminist critiques of the concept of chivalry (ex: reading chivalry as men essentially being nice to women in order to secure their sexual favors). The idea does deserve critique, but that doesn’t mean you should stop holding the door for women, pulling out their chair, or any other kind acts of a gentleman. Don’t let an intellectual debate stop you from being the good, kind dude your parents raised you to be. And on the other end of things, if you want a woman who fits more snuggly in traditional gender roles, then find her. But don’t force it on her. There are plenty of woman that will cook for you everyday. But don’t put the pan in her hand. But…………
5. The “How” and “Why” you disagree could make you a sexist
…..Having an informed opinion is paramount, but before disagreeing, you should also interrogate the merits of why you disagree. “It’s just the way things are. Why change it?“, “There’s a natural order to things“, “But men are……and women are…“. Saying phrases like this may make you sexist. None of these were intentionally vitriolic statements, but remember, you don’t have to hate women to be sexist. All you need is a lack in interest for changing the existing status quo or leveling the power dynamics between the sexes. For example, asserting that women shouldn’t get equal pay as men is just as bad as being indifferent when the topic arises. Apathy is just as potent as hate in its outcome. And if you think about it, people have offered the same types of logic when justifying other social ills like racism and classism. More often than not, change benefits more people than it hurts, especially when it is geared towards equality. But if you’re a guy who just flat out thinks women are meant to be subjugated, take yo ass back to the Stone Age. And on the other side of that, TRUST ME, you’ll still be a man if you agree with a Feminist. I promise.