Are you an ally of feminists? Do you try, on a daily basis, to be one of the good guys, to bite your tongue whenever you feel a gendered slur about to make it’s way out of your stomach and into your mouth? Do you work to give women a voice?
Just… do us a favor…
Don’t brag about it. I’ve actually learned, like a lot of feminists, to be extremely suspicious of guys who proudly and forcefully declare that they’re feminists, as if they expect to score some points. Because, then, they do shit like this:
My friend and I had made a friend through some humanist organization in town. We’d already become quite tired of his “professional atheism” because, despite both being atheists, we didn’t quite understand the need to treat it like a religion. He certainly tried to mansplain that to us, but it was boring.
Anywho, my friend is a big fan of weird nail polish applications and had recently been doing some water marbling method. She is a web developer who works from home so she has time for these things. She was showing off her nails to all of us in the coffee shop when our helpful man friend chimed in to let her know that her choice to paint her nails was a mechanism of her own oppression. As we sat agape, he went on to mansplain how all of these fanciful things that we do for our own amusement are actually the yoke of patriarchy keeping us down.
We didn’t respond much at the time, but when the same man texted me a few days later to ask me out, I explained to him that I didn’t date patronizing men. He went on to call me “dear” while defending his nail polish stance in terms that was less murky so my ladybrain could process it. So nice to have such a great feminist advocate on our side!
On the Dont’s of Being an Ally, this, fellow allies, is called “mansplaining”. Most of us, I’m sure, know better, but we always have to be on the lookout for assholes like this. See, I don’t think men like this qualify as feminist allies because they clearly haven’t done any self-reflection. This is the kind of guy who pays lip service to it and then continues enforcing patriarchy with his words and, potentially, his actions. I’d be willing to bet he slings around words like “bitch” and “cunt” like they’re going out of style, but thinks it’s totes okay because he’s totes an ally of feminists, and that gives him some kind of super-special permission to continue being an asshole.
If you pull stunts like this, then you are one of those guys… whether or not you admit it.
So don’t. Okay?
Don’t shout that you’re an ally from the rooftops. Your words mean nothing. It’s your actions that will determine whether or not you’re a feminist ally. Walk the walk. Don’t just talk the talk.
Oh… if you feel obliged to respond to the “professional atheism” slur here… I did, too, but it’s off-topic. I do disagree with the woman who submitted this. However, that argument is off-topic here. Let’s stay off it. I’m already working on a post defending activist atheism and ridicule and all that, so we can hash that shit out there.
And finally… the particular tumblr, called Academic Men Explain Things to Me, is worth following. It is enraging, yes, and, as usual, makes me feel ashamed on behalf of my sex. But it is worth following just as a reminder of what not to do. It’s a constant reminder to judge a person by their accomplishments instead of their gender. Just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean she knows less than you do… especially if you have a Bachelors and she has a PhD.
I should probably put a trigger warning on the blog, too, just in case.