Kevin: aka Thin Black Duke, of Slant Truth had a guest post up at Thinking Girl's site that I thought was pretty interesting. The topic was 10 things that men can do to end men's violence against women, but it's also a good jumping point to discuss things that men can do to help end sexism and misogyny.
As a man, my role in feminism is something that I often think about it. It occurs to me that I don't think I've actually talked about that on here, which... well... is weird. You'd think it would come up.
One thing that I think feminist men should absolutely be doing is taking other men to task for the sexism that we exhibit. When we, as men, "get it" it's important that we work to help other men get it, too. This isn't always easy, but it's necessary. This sort of goes back to the question that cme asked me about here: It's not women's jobs to be a tourguide for men.
I think that's absolutely true, as I mentioned in response to that. I do, however, think that I, as a feminist man, do have an obligation in that area. I'm under no illusion that my voice will always find a willing ear or that I'll always get things right, but I absolutely believe it can make a difference, sometimes. I think that being vocal about supporting women's rights, and helping other men see that these are important issues is one of the most important things we, as feminist men, can do. I think of it as my responsibility as a man who supports an end to sexism to step up and help other men see what I see: a world where sexism is still all to common.
We also have an obligation to examine and challange our individual sexism and the roles we play in supporting sexist systems, and to work to understand how patriarchical systems benefit us- to see how male privilege benefits us, even when we don't mean for it to. It's not enough to fight against the systemic sexism that exists outside in the world around us if we don't also take the time to examine the ways that we exhibit sexism in our personal lives, as well. Even the most well intentioned among us are likely to harbor sexist beliefs sometimes, or unconciously benefit from privileges as a result of our sex. Part of being a feminist male, to me, is working to understand and be aware of the areas that I need to improve on, and to work on noticing instances of sexism that benefit me.
It's only after we've taken the steps to recognize how sexism and privilege play into our personal lives that I think we can really begin to help educate other men about our responsibility in ending sexism. This goes back to what I was talking about in the begining of this post- it's not enough to recognize sexism and say "Yeah, sexism sucks!" That's a start, but real action takes action. We have to be willing to move from recognizing sexism, to taking action against it, and that means being vocal, and it means being willing to address sexism when we see it, and it means working to educate other men about sexism.