How to be a good male ally to women
Do you know what it takes to be a good male ally to women?
Men, you have the power and you need to learn how to be a good male ally to women. Being understanding of the cause is no longer enough.
Many men are genuinely bemused and wonder what they can do to be a good male ally to women. Frequently their perception is that there already is gender balance and that organisations are taking the necessary steps to eradicate sexism. Most believe that harassment does not take place in their organisations. At the same time, they very often wonder what the average guy can do to make things a little better.
Basic tips to become a good male ally to women
Accept you are part of the privileged or dominant group. Empathise. Try to understand just a little what it means to walk in a woman’s shoes if you can. Better still acknowledge that you can't.
2. Reframe your “manscripts”
Try and understand there is a world for women outside your daily relationships with the main women in your life - mother, sister, wife, daughter. Take on board the fact that your perception of events may need to be re-framed.
3. Don’t be complacent
If you are a bystander to seeing a woman being subject to sexism, bullied, harassed, or intimidated then you need to become an upstander. Your silence, or your dismissiveness that it didn't mean anything, or your declaration that it's “just banter” is collusion. This makes you part of the problem.
4. Demand representation
If you are involved in any activity which is male-dominated – panels, conferences, projects or hiring processes - insist on gender balance. Where you have the power to refuse to participate unless it’s corrected, please do so. If you have any leverage make sure you use it.
If men aren't willing to help you, we have ways of helping you to Raise Your Visibility. Check it out and make the most of any opportunity.
5. Don’t Mansplain
Men, if you are explaining certain topics to women where they are better qualified than you are are, or where the subject is not in your area of expertise or experience, back off. Men have gotten themselves into huge amounts of hot water on social media by proffering advice on topics ranging from the price of sanitary products, to language used to describe female genitalia. Just don't.
Men cannot fully understand the female experience, and some even argue that some circumstances are applicable to men. They may be in general terms, but not in exactly the same way. Instead of insisting that a woman is being difficult, irrational, overreacting or emotional; listen to what is happening for them. Diminishing their experience is a form of gaslighting. Don’t dominate the dialogue and take it over. Give women the room to participate and self-advocate. For tips on how to improve, check out this article: 5 quick and cheap tips to become a better listener.
7. Be politically correct
This is not a popular suggestion today, but it is a necessary one. The English language is rich, so there is no need to use either stereotypes or pejorative or sexist language to make a point. You also don't have to use terms of endearment to anyone other than family members or significant others.
8. Speak up against violence
With an increase in women being subject to attack on social media and politics as well as an increase in harassment in the workplace, which was illustrated by the #MeToo movement, it’s time for men to actively speak out against aggression wherever and whenever they see it.
It can be hard to act against something you can't see. That's why it is important to take on Unconscious Bias Training. Get your company to do it today.
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Dates for the Diary
November 12th European Commission DG GROW
Informal talk on how to deal with sexism - 12.30 - 1400
November 25th Council of the European Union - Corporate Event
How to deal with sexism and harassment in the workplace
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