How To Be A Male Ally Without 'Mansplaining'

How To Be A Male Ally Without 'Mansplaining'

Learn to amplify our voices, and don't talk over us.

I will be the first to admit that the feminist movement needs male allies. Feminism thrives on unity, even in the face of our less-than-unified American government. As an intersectional feminist, I think it is important to view our world through a lens that incorporates all aspects of privilege and oppression, including race, gender, economic status, ability, etc. In order for feminism to have an impact on modern culture, it needs to be expansive and inclusive of all people from all walks of life. So yes, I think men can and should be involved in the feminist movement. We are always stronger together.

Even in these trying times of political disunity, I have seen many male allies take a stand against sexism, support women when they are attacked with hateful rhetoric, and make an honest, if imperfect, attempt to be educated on important issues. I have seen my father make tremendous strides towards a better understanding of feminism and stand up to family members who repost hate speech and target women with opposing viewpoints. I have seen my brother stand up to his friends, my teachers encourage female students to speak in class, and more.

In this way, I have seen that the voices of men have a unique impact on modern feminism and how it is perceived. Where sometimes the voices of women are overlooked or belittled, men can do a lot to amplify those voices. Men can stand up to other men. Men can walk shoulder-to-shoulder with women, and support us in our fight for equality. Men have the potential to do amazingly positive things for the feminist movement. And I truly believe that all male allies want to do what is best for the women of our world.

But I also have to be honest when I say there is a time and a place for a male ally to speak on feminist issues, and even when a male ally has good intentions and has the correct information, feminists are not required to relinquish their platform so that a well-intentioned man can speak. And it is disrespectful to feminists everywhere for a man to take the place of a woman in a discussion on women’s rights.

This is where the term “mansplaining” often pops up.

But what is “mansplaining?” Mansplaining is, in its purest form, a man taking a woman’s place at the podium. It is a man needlessly replicating, dumbing down, or belittling the voices of women in a conversation about women’s rights. While mansplaining often occurs in a wide variety of conversations, like explaining medical science to a doctor or comic books to a woman in a comic book store, the topic most relevant for this discussion is women’s rights. So many times have I seen men speak over the voices of women in a conversation that isn’t even about them. And again, even if their facts and intentions are good, it isn’t their place.

In no way am I saying that the best thing male allies can do is sit down and shut up — far from it. What I am saying, though, is that there is specific work that male allies can do, and it doesn’t involve inserting your opinion in place of a woman’s, or dumbing down her argument for an online DudeBro. What you can do, though, is stand up to men using “locker-room talk.” Call out your friend for cat-calling, or walk your female friend to her car if it’s dark out.

Instead of being frustrated that you have male privilege and wish you didn’t, use your privilege to do the work that only you can do. Use your position to support and defend and amplify.

But how does one “amplify” the voices of women without being a jerk? Online, often that means you reblog instead of post. In person, that means you stand up for women when they are interrupted, rather than getting into a discussion with the man who interrupted them, which, while good-intentioned, is still not allowing that woman a place to speak. It means that when a female student makes a point in class and a male student interrupts her to say the same thing, you acknowledge that, and don’t attribute any credit to him for restating her point. It means that when there is a discussion on women’s rights, you don’t just interject your opinion; you listen first and talk second.

And listening, perhaps, is the most important thing you can do. When you are caught mansplaining (and believe me, it happens even to the most well-intentioned), and a woman calls you on it and tells you to listen instead of talk, you actually need to do that. You are only as good an ally as you are a listener.

You do have a place in the feminist movement. All we ask is that you are aware of your privilege and that you seek to amplify instead of argue.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.

What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Dear Kaitlin Bennet, If The U.S. Had Common Sense Gun Control, You Would Not Be Allowed To Carry

You can't threaten to shoot someone just because they disagree with you.


As most people know by now, Kaitlin Bennet is a recent graduate from Kent State University who tweeted a photo of herself with an AR-10 strapped to her back, and a graduation cap that said: "Come And Take It." Since then, she's obnoxiously been making herself more known through stunts like dangerously firing buckshot straight into the air at a gun range after shooting pumpkins in order to show her love of Brett Kavanaugh and her dislike of feminism, going to an anti-Trump rally and threatening the protestors, and "disguising herself" while asking Kent State University students what they thought of her.

One of the most infuriating things about Bennet is that she doesn't seem to understand what feminism is. She often rants about how feminism needs to be destroyed. She doesn't seem to understand that the literal definition of feminism is, "The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes." I'm not sure why Bennet wouldn't want equal rights, but that's on her. When a Twitter user pointed out that feminism gave Bennet the right to have a voice and to vote, Bennet tweeted back "Feminism didn't give me the right to vote. Men did. But ok." This is truly frightening, Bennet must think that her oppressors are actually her liberators when they give her just a little of what should be rightfully hers (i.e. equal rights). Bennet goes as far as to say that feminists don't actually want equal rights, but that we would rather be victims so that we can turn sympathy into democratic votes.

I'd like to remind Bennet that feminism is the reason that she is able to speak about her beliefs so publicly. Feminism is the reason that she is allowed to vote, allowed to own property, allowed to apply for a credit card. The list goes on. I can only hope that one day, Kaitlin Bennet will be willing to open her eyes and learn that she should be thanking feminist leaders for her freedom.

The fact that Bennet believes that feminism opposes the right for a woman to protect herself shows how delusional she really is. Common sense gun regulation is not about taking guns away from law-abiding citizens, it's about making sure that only those responsible enough to use a gun safely can own one. Personally, I think Bennet knows that she probably wouldn't be allowed to carry a gun if these regulations were put into place, as she regularly threatens people who disagree with her by letting them know that she carries, going as far as to threaten protestors at a recent anti-Trump rally and saying, "That will deter them." She proceeded to insult the protestors by making fun of their clothes and their weight, even looking into the camera and saying: "She's gonna eat it" after a protestor spoke into Bennet's microphone.

On October 13th, Bennet posted a video on Twitter, stating, "Just wanted to remind all the violent feminists that have sent me death threats this week that it's not a good idea to threaten an armed woman." People like Bennet that use firearms as a threat only strengthen the argument for gun control.

Kaitlin, I want you to know that I pity you. The fact that you carry doesn't scare me. It is very clear that you don't want your gun for protection. You want your gun to make a statement. You want your gun to say, "I have permission to be rude and offensive and to instill fear in others." It is clear that you only feel powerful and important when you're able to hide behind a weapon and threaten to shoot anyone who has an opinion that differs from yours. You are advocating for your cause in all the wrong ways. You are giving us every reason to oppose you. Good luck, and wake up.

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