WE'VE HEARD YOU'RE INSPIRED
BY COURAGEOUS WOMEN AND
YOU WANT TO BE AN ALLY.
HERE'S A LIST OF ACTIONS
YOU CAN TAKE IMMEDIATELY.
Encourage earnest conversations about sexism and tangible actions you can take to make the world more equitable (use this list as a starting point).
Watch films written and directed by women about women.
Ask yourself, honestly, “How am I complicit in the systemic biases holding women back?”
Imagine feeling vulnerable to a larger, more physically-dominant human and the adjustments you'd make at work, for example.
Be mindful of your body language and reach.
“Spotting instances of sexism requires constant vigilance, and engaging with feminist issues on a daily basis, not just during special events like the Women's March. It means speaking up about these issues in every context and situation that you notice, whether it's on the street, in the workplace, or within a national debate...” - Valerie Cools
“When a woman is walking alone and you end up walking behind her - especially in dark or secluded areas - please slow down to increase the distance between you, or, better yet, cross the street. Literally go out of your way to help her feel that you're not following her.” - Nicole Stamp
“When you hear a woman being talked over, interrupted, or worse — having her ideas co-opted by someone else — speak up to help pass the mic back her way.“ You could say, “Hey, I don’t think Tamika was finished getting her point across. Tamika, did you want to add to that?” - Emilie Aries
“Men can start putting in some of the work women have long done in offering testimony. They can come forward and say ‘me too’ while sharing how they have hurt women in ways great and small. They can testify about how they have cornered women in narrow office hallways or made lewd comments to co-workers or refused to take no for an answer or worn a woman down by guilting her into sex...” - Roxane Gay
“2% of reported felonies are false. Which is why if you say, ‘that guy stole my car,’ it doesn’t even occur to us to wonder if you’re making it up for attention. Now, with rape allegations, that number HOLDS TRUE. 2%, based on copious studies. Reporting rape is much harder and subjects a woman to much more scrutiny than reporting a stolen car, so we are less likely to report, let alone lie...Why do we even ask that? - Heather Orr
Stand up for women, not just because they’re someone’s mother or sister or wife, but because they're humans worthy of being treated as humans.
“A primary goal of ours should be unburdening women and people of color from educating us by doing that ourselves. We have to educate ourselves since we’re not born with that understanding, and we’re not typically taught it in school.” - Matt McGorry
If you respond with, “Not all men…” after a woman shares her story — ask yourself why you’re being defensive, instead of listening.
“Stop saying that women want to be equal to men – or that we are striving for women to be seen as the ‘same as men in society.’ Feminism is not equalism. Feminism is the liberation of women and girls all over the world from the patriarchy and misogyny that continues to harm and oppress them as a class of people.” - Jessica Eaton
"Avoid the hot takes and go to the source - the people who experience the issue firsthand. Find, say, three articles *written by people in that demographic*, and read them. Look for patterns in their analyses. You'll find that these ideas aren't weird militant fringe notions- oppression is a widely-accepted and statistically-supported phenomenon” - Nicole Stam
Read books about feminism.
Be a role model for young boys.
Introduce women by their professional title and speak to their accomplishments, instead of their beauty. “The words we use can shape how people feel about themselves and others, how they interact and how they make decisions about the distribution of rights and resources.” - Rachel Allison
"Being an ally, of women or of Indigenous people or people of color, means working to create spaces for these under-represented constituents, not just to be present, but to be heard, to be empowered as equals at the decision-making table. This also means that white men must be willing to decline the offer (job, taskforce, cabinet post, etc.) because they know that a more qualified female, or black, etc. candidate exists." - Dr. Charmaine Nelson
"Until such time as men have uteruses, vaginas, menstrual cycles, and pregnancies, and until such time as they are the main targets of sexual violence, assault, rape, and sexist bullying, women should be at the forefront in creating policies and programs about the health and well-being of our bodies." - Dr. Charmaine Nelson
“Challenge other men in spaces when they are being problematic in various ways. And not just challenge a stranger, but challenge your friends, challenge the people who we actually respect and there’s something to lose. Because it’s really easy to challenge a stranger when you’re never going to see them again. But are you willing to lose a close friend who will not stop being sexist, misogynistic, or homophobic? That willingness is a destination worth working towards.” - Wade Davis
“Don't argue so much in conversations around types of oppression that you don't personally experience. Keep an eye open for our culture's gross habit of putting the onus on the oppressed persons to dredge up their pain for inspection (only for us to then dismiss it as ‘just one instance which they probably either caused or misinterpreted anyway’)." - Nicole Stamp
If you are not a professional hired for security detail, do not tell women you’re security and will protect them.
Invite women to sit at the table.
Celebrate the accomplishments of women.
“Whenever you are in a group composed of only men (whether it’s social, work, church, or whatever) ask yourself why there are no women present. Then ask out loud why. Force an honest answer.” - Helen Rosner
"Being an ally sometimes means speaking up and ‘having someone's back’ and it also means shutting up and knowing when it is not your turn to speak, because you have spoken first, already, or enough. Being an ally also means knowing when and how to listen, really listen." - Dr. Charmaine Nelson
Don’t conform to traditional ideas of masculinity; it’s hazardous to your health and ours (Google “toxic masculinity”).
“Every day I have to be actively involved in educating myself to understand that women’s lives are very different than mine. And I am actively complicit if I’m not doing work to make your lives better.” - Wade Davis
Mentor women and help establish a career pipeline, so more women can reach the top levels in their careers.
Take action against policies that hurt women, like the “gag rule.”
If you see a woman doing a job that has traditionally been coded as “a man’s job,” don’t assume she needs your help and do it for her. She will ask for your help if she needs it.
Believe women — and say, “I believe you.”
Avoid standing over and talking down to women.
Champion inclusivity — in everything you do.
Don’t tell women to smile.
Support policies that advance gender equity.
“Parents and teachers need to reflect: when we tell boys to ‘take it like a man’ or ‘stop being a girl,’ we are perpetuating a pattern of violence. The education system, too, needs to step in: by actively facilitating conversations about the harms of gender stereotypes, and promoting the values of equality, diversity and respect.” - Jolene Tan
“Tell your elected officials that you are a man who votes and you prioritize women’s issues when you decide who to vote for. Then actually prioritize women’s issues when you decide who to vote for. Understand that women’s issues are your issues.” - Helen Rosner
“Maybe the problem is, in part, the hunt for “good men,” which encourages a moral distancing that lets the rest of us off the hook...‘Bad’ becomes, in the end, merely a matter of degree, when ‘good’ men remain silent, or offer generic messages of support on social media, claiming wide-eyed outrage and surprise.” - Thomas Page McBee
“Support nontaxed menstrual products. Ask your workplace if tampons and pads are free. If they’re not, advocate for them to be free. Get over any embarrassment you may have about menstruation.” - Helen Rosner
Address her by her name. Stay away from “honey, babe, doll” and addressing a group as ladies or guys.
Donate to social service agencies that support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Ask women about issues that affect them — and listen. You could say, “I’m working to become a better ally to women [in my workplace], what are actions that I can take to do that?”
Take care of your mental health. When you suffer, we all suffer.
Support women-owned businesses.
Educate yourself on harassment.
Create an environment where women are valued and respected.
Demand that your employer give women equal opportunities and pay for equal work.
“The most important step toward becoming a better feminist and ally is learning to be uncomfortable. Admit what you don’t know. Admit that you’ve made mistakes. Talk about sexism even if you’re worried you’ll screw up. Call out harassment and misogyny even if people make fun of you. This discomfort is productive.” - Leah Fessler
“Women want men to think critically about how, whether or not they are conscious of it, they are surrounded by and take part in the patriarchal systems that make sexual harassment and assault so common. No one—regardless of their education, hometown, or politics—is immune to sexism. That’s how institutional oppression works.” - Leah Fessler
“Detach yourself from straw-man definitions for hot-button issues (intersectionality, cultural appropriation, political correctness, preferred pronouns, etc.) and learn what they’re really about. Unpack the real meanings behind phrases like “SJW” and “feminazi.” Believe people when they say they’re in pain.” - Helen Rosner
“We need to be cognizant about hearing the experiences of the most marginalized voices and amplify their stories and opinions most frequently. We need to [follow] women, women of color and various feminists in our social media feeds, and when something resonates with us, we need to retweet it to amplify voices that are often drowned out.” - Matt McGorry
“The problem is that misogyny, like racism, is learned behavior, and it can be so ingrained in life that I don’t even know when I’m perpetuating it...We have to actively work against those attitudes every day—and I believe the work begins first within ourselves. I count myself in that lot too. I have to be better and do better. And this is how I have my conversations with young folks — I throw myself under the bus, show them where and how I messed up, and ask them to think with me about how I could do better.” - Brendan Kiely
Do not protect men that have violated women with your silence.
Support women running for public office.
preconceptions about gender.
Learn about the language of gender violence.
Pay attention to the difference in how you and the women next to you are treated, so you become aware of the systemic inequity that surrounds you.
“When you need support, reach out to men as well as women. Work to be a person your friends of all genders can reach out to when they need support. Create a culture of openness around yourself.” - Helen Rosner
Stop shaming women for qualities you celebrate in men.
Report a coworker’s inappropriate behavior to HR.
Learn about Feminist Theology.
Read books written by women about women.
Use gender-inclusive language, such as "humanity" instead of "mankind.”
Research what goes into a sexual assault forensic exam (“rape kit”), so you better understand why it’s unlikely a woman would lie.
Know your potential representative’s track record on women’s health and constitutional rights, and let that inform your vote.
“Educate yourself on Microaggressions - those statements, actions, or incidents that reflect indirect, subtle, and sometimes unintentional discrimination against women and other marginalized minorities - are commonplace in the workplace.” - Emilie Aries
“If there are little boys, teen boys, and young men in your life, role-model that the feminine is not less-than. Challenge them on their dismissive ideas around what counts as ‘girl stuff.’ Buy them a doll. Paint your nails together. Show up wearing pink. Do something that's coded as traditionally ‘feminine’ in a way that embraces the feminine as a valid way of being, not in a way that mocks femininity.” - Nicole Stamp