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Who even is an ally? An ally is a person who supports the advancement of the cause of a marginalised demographic even though they are not part of that group.
This person, understanding that they are in a privileged position (as they are not victims of the oppression the marginalised group is fighting against), uses said privilege to condemn and fight against injustice.
For the feminist cause, the goal is to dismantle the patriarchy and its oppressive workings. The call to allyship is a call to service because you understand the weight of the cause and agree that affirmative action is required to undo the damage and abate the effects of age-old misogynistic practices.
Being human beings and therefore inherently selfish, many people tend to centre themselves in struggles that are not their own under the guise of allyship.
Remember our “king of feminism?” Men who profess to be feminists and feminist allies often fail woefully at the task for the simple reason that they unwittingly (or deliberately) benefit from this oppressive system and refuse to acknowledge it. Cis heterosexual “allies” of the LGBTQ+ community also tend to centre themselves, responding defensively to valid criticism.
The egoism and hardheadedness that is characteristic of privilege must be shed to be a proper ally. Unlearning harmful beliefs and biases is a constant process especially when one is detached from the oppression of a system designed to favour them.
The reluctance to listen to the people you’re an ally to is an automatic disqualifying factor. Male feminist allies tend to speak over women because they consider themselves to be better than everyday misogynists. “How dare you try to tell me how to fight for *your* cause?”
Sometimes allyship is performative and it is evident in the person’s expectation of praise and adulation for their support. A man tweets “stop raping our women” but becomes incensed at women’s objection to the use of the phrase “our women”.
Expecting a pat on the back for advocacy and refusing to make corrections and acknowledge wrongdoing when errant is ridiculous and only a person who is not truly in tune with the cause will clamour for praise for common decency.
Being a man who supports feminist theory and the feminist fight does not mean you do not still benefit from the trappings of the patriarchy that oppress women. It is perfectly normal for feminists to regard self-professed male feminist allies with apprehension because unlearning misogyny is an arduous and continuous task, even for women.
Men who truly believe in the feminist fight should simply take up the mantle and fight beside us without expecting special treatment for it. They should internalise the cause so much so that they start to see it as a personal fight too.