- Male privilege is real and must be studied and interrogated on the personal and social level. Male privilege distorts men’s vision of the world, of our relationships to women, the LGBTQ community, children and each other. It is a reflection of the abusive, oppressive and fatal entitlement that patriarchy creates for people generally born/assigned male.
- Male entitlement ranges from how men occupy conversational and physical spaces to the tragic violence of men who actually kill women who simply reject their advances and those that take advantage of oppressed women and queer folk in the sex trade and trafficking. Men must become aware of this spectrum, how it is expressed in their lives and the effects entitlement has on women and other targeted populations. Men must learn to identify their participation in oppressive systems, refuse that participation, refuse to dehumanize women and revitalize traditional cultural values of balance, healing and new systems of social justice with regard to women.
- Study readily excepted and varying definitions, practices and processes of womanism, feminism and other social movements working toward justice and liberation for women. Hold respectful space for women’s absolute right to shift, change and develop their conceptions of what is best for their own autonomy, safety, security and progressive development on the personal and societal level. Know that there are continuing intersectional dynamics and challenges at work against patriarchy, misogynoir, misogyny and heterosexism.
- Prioritize women’s voices, writing, media and commentary, especially that of indigenous women, African women and other Women of Color including those in the LGBTQ community. Be willing to listen, actively be present with and deeply consider the perspectives and lived experiences of women as we reconfigure our own relationships personally, communally and on the societal level.
- Recognize that the needs and conditions that women experience with regard to patriarchy, male privilege and men’s violence may vary minimally or greatly between economic classes, cultural groups, national realities and sexual and gender orientations. Male privilege, entitlement and arrogant impatience may often wish to treat women across these boundaries in a monolithic and over-generalized way, confirming the narrow vision that comes from privilege and the predisposition to abuse and exploitation that marks common experiences for many women. Keep in mind that not every women wearing a burka regards it as a symbol of oppression, that those that choose to stay at home and raise children or elect to modify their bodies are not necessarily doing so out of any lack of vision, political clarity or response to oppression.
- When listening to women’s stories about their lived experiences, resist the tendency to center your own experiences or perspectives. Women are the experts of their experiences and narratives. This is an area where the behavior of “mansplaining” often is identified or, as in social media, derailing of conversations or occupation of too much space or simply the domination of space too often, not allowing the voices of women and LGBTQ people to be centered and/or prioritized. Understand also that the narratives of European/white women may exclude the experiences of or further oppress Women of Culture/Color, indigenous women.
- Resist and refrain from sexualizing women across various social contexts. Though women and others may be personally and socially empowered to express their sexual autonomy in their own time and spaces, the entitlement of men to approach women with sexual intent is often and generally considered part of the character of patriarchy, sexual oppression and harassment and assault. Race and colonialism have created differentiated contexts of sexualization of African, Asian, Latinx and indigenous women. Men’s sexual harassment of women at work or in situations where men have little or no previous acquaintance with particular women can range from being illegal to being profoundly abusive and exploitative, even as men consider those situations to be “innocent” or an expression of their idea of a “compliment”. Women may not see or experience it that way. Many writings and other sharing suggest that it is best that men gain better insight to the repercussions of their actions, step back from approaching women sexually in these contexts, whether public or private and resolutely learn not to apply sexual contexts across the board.
- No means no. Learn to hear “no” in all its non-verbal, verbal and social mediated and digitally communicated forms. Learn how to respect “no” and respond in a respectful way without needing to convince the person or pressure them into saying “yes” or “maybe”. A no is not a challenge. No is a complete statement.
- Consent in sexual and intimate contact and relationships is non-negotiable, but the conditions, times, activities and ways of connecting are totally negotiable at any and all points of contact, ranging from non-verbal and written communication to physical contact. Gain information and personal insight on how you respect and/or broach consent in your relationships, whether fleeting, short or long term. Ask for consent. If you don’t get it, move on with respect and integrity.
- Learn to see consent as a larger social dynamic that includes how men access social space, politics, instances of social/national violence/war and how male-dominated economic systems that exploit, abuse and degrade the Earth, Nature and it’s resources. Oppressive political and economic systems will create processes that dictate access for most often European/white, rich or socially connect men. The theft of indigenous, peasant/campesina and tribal lands for water, gas/oil and other extractive industry materials is a particular gross, violent and even genocidal form of men’s social, economic and political broaching of free, informed and prior consent.
- Don’t rape women or people in the LGBTQ community, children or other men. Teach other men and boys not to rape and assault. Understand, identify and deconstruct/dismantle rape culture.
- Boycott companies that have oppressive policies against women, the LGBTQ community and People of Color/indigenous people. Let them know why you are boycotting them and use your networks to enlarge and popularize any boycott you are a part of.
- Be willing to boycott and speak out against media companies that present and distribute misogynist and patriarchal narratives. Boycott the advertisers that support those media outlets and narratives. Be willing to contact the media and advertisers and tell them why you are boycotting them or speaking out against their practices.
- Call other men out/in when you hear them speaking in misogynoirist/misogynist/patriarchal ways. Educate those closest to you. Share helpful posts and information/writing in your social media networks by women and LGBTQ people. Colorism adds additional levels of exploitation, especially for women of African descent.
- Don't participate in "tone policing", telling women and LGBTQ people how they should feel or to stop being angry when you are in conversation or discussion, in their digital or real life spaces. How people share about their experiences of you or the systems of patriarchy, misogyny or heterosexism is important information for you, no matter how you are feeling in the moment about it. Learn from their human experience and be humble in conversation and action.
- Study the integration of patriarchy with racism and colonialism and how patriarchy is sustained in the systems of colonial oppression. Work toward dismantling the systems that oppress women in general, indigenous women, Women of Color, the LGBTQ community and children. These systems include communications industries, legal/judicial systems, economic/banking systems, policing/military, educational systems, food, housing and other elements of society.
- Acknowledge and deal with your discomfort around talking openly about sexism, male privilege and patriarchal oppression. Do your inner and external community work. It isn't about you, but you are responsible for dismantling patriarchal social and political systems and structures because humanity and justice are important to you.
- Know that you don't have all the answers and the people who are suffering from being targeted by sexism, misogynoir, misogyny, patriarchy and colonialism are the experts on how to dismantle it and what needs to be done. Again, understand and resist “mansplaining”.
- Send financial and in-kind donation support to women’s/LGBTQ organizations and activists. It is important to repurpose the funds and access that men have reaped due to historical privilege and oppression, marginalization and disenfranchisement of women.
- Support protest and direct action by financial, material and technical support if needed. Show up if you are welcome and be respectful and informed in your presence. Embodied protest and resistance, whether they lead to arrests or not, are serious and may put women and the LGBTQ community at physical, social and economic risk. Be prepared to stand behind or side by side (or in front if asked) with women and LGBTQ folk in these spaces. Make sure that your actions and messaging is in keeping with the leadership of the action and those communities. Do not go to other communities' protests and actions for the selfie opportunities. If that is your motivation, you are better off staying home and continuing to study what is daily and historically at stake for Women of Color, indigenous women, women in general and the LGBTQ community.
- Constantly learn about the systemic nature of patriarchy, intersectional oppression and sexism/misogynoir/misogyny/heterosexism. Become clearly informed on how and where patriarchy and oppression show up in the social, economic and political structures of your local, state and federal governments and around the world. Know that the dominant (anti-)culture resists learning about how to identify these systems and patterns and there are people who will directly and incorrectly criticize you for seeking clarity.
- Raise issues of sexism and marginalization of women at work/school/social organizations. Open the conversations and create allies and learning processes in the interest of making substantive change in your organization. Get answers that help chart paths of change and transformation. Persist in that work. It is part of the justice process. Be aware also that women may have already done so or may not need your advocacy there. Also be ready to take their lead, as always.
- Do an informal and/or formal cultural assessment of your place of work/school/ organization to define
if there is a proactive gender/sexual orientation anti-discrimination policy/statement/program
if the gender/sexual orientation anti-discrimination policy is being funded, supported
if the gender/sexual orientation anti-discrimination policy is being implemented
what the goals are for this program, are they adequate and are they being substantively influenced, controlled by women and LGBTQ employees/staff/leadership
who or what department is responsible for seeing the gender/sexual orientation anti-discrimination program implemented
if indigenous women, Women of Color, women in general and LGBTQ employees/executives are being paid equally for equal levels and responsibilities of work
what the patterns of work are across the organization. Are women/LGBTQ workers contract, part-time, temporary as opposed to salaried or tenured? Are there more in custodial services than in management? What are the demographics of the board or administration? Are they in token or window-dressing roles?
if women/LGBTQ workers are holding similar levels of control and responsibility as their European/white (and in general) male counterparts
what the hiring and firing practices/history has been around women/LGBTQ employees
what the effects of sexism/marginalization due to sex/gender/sexual orientation within the organization has been within the organization and how it is best to move forward to hold the organization accountable for systemic change/transformation. How will you share this information with the women there? Have they done this work already? When and how do women/LGBTQ workers need to move forward to hold the organization to their policies or to better, yet unwritten policies/demands? What strategies and tactics will be used for change? Will you need support of unions/departments/particular people or the external community? Be honest and open about whether you are willing to jeopardize your job/position in the interest of justice and anti-oppression. Keep in mind that many more women/LGBTQ workers have paid a higher price for longer than you may be considering.
- Study the relationship of sexual/gender/sexual orientation oppression at the intersection of environmental issues – water, land access, food sovereignty, seed exploitation, GMO corporate policy and products, contaminated water/breast milk, etc,…
- Consider the inevitability sweeping future changes in national and regional governance, economics and land and resource allocation when you manifest the correct political and cultural changes into anti-sexism/heterosexism and dismantling of patriarchy. Be willing to step up powerfully into that process of positive change
- Learn empathy and compassion beyond your own narrow, limited and particular needs and those of privileged populations that benefit from the oppression of others.
♦ We do not suggest that these are the only things or all the best things to be done in the interest of dismantling patriarchy, misogyny and men’s violence against women and the LGBTQ community, but that this is our offering to the work already going on all over the world, our offering to motivate and activate new workers for justice across the Global Village and create support for those who have made such serious and effective steps in this interest to date.
We thank all those that came before us that showed us the way to reawaken us to what it means to live in a world of justice, balance, validation and peace.
Go to our ► Men's Work page