Feminism isn't just for women. Despite the prefix, wanting equality for a group that comprises a slight majority of the population is a cause we should all be able to get behind. But, without bras to burn or once-shaven leg hair to grow in, what does solidarity look like?
"Learn about the issue, decide what you want to do, and speak up about it. It does not need to be big," says Janet Huerta, executive director for Saving Grace, a nonprofit advocating for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Central Oregon.
"Do you have sons or nephews? What do you tell them about how to treat girls? Do you hear other guys telling jokes or putting down women? Do you laugh or not? Do you tell them that you don't want to hear it?" she asks. "It's the little stuff that adds up, that makes a difference, even if it doesn't seem like it."
That means you don't need to sign up for Women's Studies 101 or start referring to the past as "herstory." A little effort can go a long way toward soothing the sting of patriarchy. Plus, as Huerta points out, ladies are totally into guys who stand up for women.
1. Don't be a jerk. It should go without saying, but if you so much as pretend to care about women, you shouldn't be assaulting or harassing them—physically, sexually, or emotionally. If you think that women are somehow beneath you...you're probably not reading this. But, if you are, get thee to a competent therapist post haste.
2. Pay attention to how other people treat women. No one is asking you to literally walk in someone else's stilettos, but you might be surprised what you see and hear when you start to pay attention. Observe how coworkers talk to the women in the office, or how friends treat waitresses.
3. Listen to—and believe—women. When women tell you something is offensive, objectifying, or unwelcome, pay attention. Not only are they the experts on their own lives, scientists say they're getting smarter faster than men. So sit back and learn something.
4. Seek out women's perspectives. Read books by female authors, watch television and films created by women, rock out to female musicians, and reach out to the women at the top of their fields when looking for an expert. (Recommendation: anything by Toni Morrison, or "Broad City.")
5. Mind your language. While most of us know what counts as "fighting words," there are plenty of other ways to put down women with words. "You throw like a girl" is not appropriate, unless you're saying it as a compliment, like the Oregon State softball pitchers who throw blazing fast and furious!
6. Be part of the solution. Volunteer with or donate funds to organizations working to empower women and protect their rights. Not sure where to go? The World MUSE, the force behind the annual MUSE Women's Conference, is a good place to start.