On allies, privilege and cookies.
So, a while ago I posted about a feminist conference in London and the role male feminist allies are playing in it. I’ve been thinking since then about how to recognise that allies being decent allies is a good and happy thing, without going overboard and giving out cookies for meeting minimum standards of human decency. Those kinds of actions should not be special. And luckily decent allies recognise that.
So yeah, it’s important to celebrate the work that male allies do. But not any more than the activism women themselves are doing. Breaking the rules of the patriarchy brings about a loss of privilege for men, and even active punishment. But women don’t exactly get any easy ride for speaking up for their rights.
But hey, we aren’t living in a ideal word. If we were this blog wouldn’t have to exist. This blog is about finding the good amongst all the bad, and that includes sources of hope. Men getting involved and doing stuff and actually listening is an important step. The burden of ending oppression should not be shouldered by the oppressed. And realistically the power is not in their hands. Which is kind of the problem in the first place. Men getting involved is not exceptional – it is necessary.
There’s also this post by Heather Corrina on what men can do to prevent rape. It’s not normally the kind of thing I can link to here – the subject matter is obviously not happy, and triggering for some. But for me it’s a positive thing. Rape, and sexual violence in general, are shown as something which can be prevented, and it provides easy, concrete ways for male allies to do good. It’s a really powerful example of on-line writing having the power to change the world.
(This post has talked exclusively about allies and privilege in terms of sexism, but obviously this stuff applies to other forms of oprression as well. And a meta post on that is on it’s way at some point, I promise.)