What About The Men?

I am an avid reader of your blogs (I think I sent you a FB message once saying something to the effect of “keep fighting the good fight”). I was wondering if you might write up a post some day on how lay men who are not part of this particular struggle can be allies to females. I understand that this could mean we need to shut up, respect female-only spaces, and divest ourselves from patriarchy as much as we can. I think that you might have something to say though beyond that, which I think the handful of observers like me would be interested in hearing. Keep fighting the good fight.

Men can be allies to Women.



1. Recognize that sex matters.

2. Respect that Women will want to organize as Women, and will not derail.

3. Support female-only spaces.

4. Support issues that impact Women uniquely (e.g., reproductive choice) without derailing (a la Julia Serano).

5. Don’t personalize feminist objections to rape and sexual assault, reproductive issues, gender identity theory, pornography, prostitution, or any other matter that uniquely impacts Women.

6. Speak out against violent threats made by Men’s Rights Activists/Trans Activists against Women and Feminists.

7. Recognize that sometimes we will disagree – and that’s ok.

8. Do not view female sexuality as a political obligation.

9. Listen to Women.

10. Believe Women.

11. Trust Women.

Don't be this guy.

Don’t be this guy.

Don’t be this guy or this guy or this guy or this guy or this guy.

Readers, what other advice do you have for Men?


  1. 12. Stop fucking women. Literally and metaphorically.

      1. You know, we – and especially you – could use some allies about now. So you might want to consider whether responding to a sincere expression of support by glibly insulting all heterosexuals and bisexuals is the way to go.

      2. I don’t understand your point. Have you read Intercourse? It’s not “insulting” to anyone. It’s something to consider.

        Also, if you think solidarity with women is dependent on whether you *like* an individual woman, you are a failure.

      3. Here, maybe when a “heterosexual woman” says it, you will listen. http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/how-to-lose-a-nigel-in-9-years/

      4. Gosh Vera, why don’t I feel insulted? I’m male, and my beloved is female. Ann Tagonist made a radical demand of men – unsurprisingly, as this is a radical feminist blog. Radical demands give us a choice: explore, or dismiss instantly as mean/insane/notladylike. Cathy pointed out a direction for exploration. I hope you revise your choice.

      5. Free Intercourse download here: http://radfem.org/dworkin/

    1. Definitely to stop feeding the trafficking industry and commodification by using porn, prostitutes, strippers. And loudly object to all sexism. They have to understand that they are in a unique position to influence their fellow men. Trying to do so should be the very least!

    2. Passing Leftie · ·

      Oh, dear. I was with you up to point 12, part 1, but neither I nor my spouse would be enormously happy about giving up sex, even to crush the patriachy. Are you really saying to heterosexual men to that in order to be feminist allies we have to abstain from sex?

      1. Read Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin and then come back. Cheers.

    3. re: point #5, sometimes I can’t tell whether men need to “personalize” our critiques more or less. But I think some instinctual part errs towards “more” rather than “less.” Yes, that does mean that defensiveness might be the first stepping stone on that path…. but if they don’t personalize it at all, they’re just back in liberal land where the problematic men are those other men over there, where racism happens only abroad or in the south, where men who have a problem with misogyny and benefit from patriarchy are only other men, somewhere else, not them, no of course not after all they’re “nice guys” and no criticism truly applies to them.

      am I wrong?

      1. That’s a good point. Perhaps it is better stated to not get defensive?

  2. When you see women under attack from MRAs and transactivists, take an active role in standing against them. Call bullshit on stuff that is bullshit. Be vocal about it. There are also children being harmed by medical treatments for “being in the wrong body.” Very young children in some cases. Call bullshit on that, too. It’s gruesome. If you want to find specifics, read through some of these blogs.

    1. Talk to and deal with men. Make them shut the hell up. Shame them. Only men can talk to other men. God knows they don’t listen to us.

      1. In my experience, men who hate women listen only to each other. My experience includes intimidation and physical assault by misogynists when I object to their hatred. I’m not equating these experiences with what these same men undoubtedly do to women, nor am I saying I don’t have an obligation to speak – I do so. Just that it’s not only women who need to consider their safety around misogynists.

      2. I’m aware of that. I ask you to show as much courage as women do to simply live with and around men.

      3. I try.

      4. …but thinking some more about this, I can’t know how much courage that takes. I can only ask myself and the women in my life whether there is more I can do.

  3. Passing Leftie · ·

    On the basis of 9. Listen to Women, 10. Believe Women, 11. Trust Women I will do just as you suggest. I’d still like to have an answer (do we need to give up sex to be a proper ally?) because I can’t tell from your suggestion, but then that’s what 9, 10 and 11 is all about.

    1. Read Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin, and then come back. Thanks!

    2. I’ll admit I haven’t read Intercourse in its entirety. But I have read a fair share of it and about it. Andrea Dworkin was a genius, and her words are as important today as they were when she wrote them, if not more. I second Cathy’s advice to read this book, or anything by Dworkin. But I will add that I myself believe (and this is based on things Dworkin said on this topic, statements that were rather explicit**) that she didn’t mean that there is no way *at all* for male and female to be sexual together in freedom. But in patriarchal material reality, the way we have all been conditioned to understand sex, it is very much a violation and a reinforcement of male power and female subjugation. Maybe people should work and strive to understand this instead of literally fucking around–before you know it, you’ve wasted too much time letting your hormones rage and reinforcing the disgusting lie you’ve been fed with pleasurable sensations to understand and change the world once and for all.

      **for instance: “I think both intercourse and sexual pleasure can and will survive equality.” (http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/MoorcockInterview.html)

  4. Hi folks

    I’m another male reader of feminist blogs, and, I hope, a supporter of feminism. Radical feminist writers like Andrea Dworkin have been instrumental in helping me make sense of the world throughout my adult life. Bloggers like Cathy Brennan and GallusMag have helped me make sense of the trans phenomenon recently. I have rarely seen such naked woman-hatred as that I’ve seen aimed by the trans mob at those women who defy them.

    I’d like to echo Cathy’s recommendation to Passing Leftie to read ‘Intercourse’. While you’re waiting for your copy to arrive you could listen to Consolidated’s thundering track, ‘Typical Male’, covered memorably by Grace Jones:

    Also I recommend that men do their share of the domestic work (why do men still need telling this?), and for goodness’ sake sit down to pee. The ability to mist the bathroom floor with an aerosol of urine and toilet-water is not an admirable male trait.

    1. Ah, Consolidated. That brings me back. Thanks.

  5. Passing Leftie · ·

    I’ve read Intercourse now – it’s a powerful, well-written and nuanced book. I didn’t like Levy’s introduction much.

    However, reading the book didn’t help me definitively answer the question I posed. I understand that under patriachy, penetrative sex is highly problematic – so do heterosexual men have to abstain from all PIV sex to be feminist allies? I honestly don’t mind what your answer is, but I’m just not able to figure it out. Dworkin doesn’t appear to say that (though I could be wrong).

    Points 1 to 11 are crystal clear. Point 12 says “don’t literally fuck women” so I expected when I said “does that mean we have to stop having sex?” the answer would be “yes,” but I wanted to be sure.

    I understand you don’t owe me any explanation, but thought it was OK to follow up.

    1. Read the Femonade link, and Femonade’s Intercourse series: http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/the-intercourse-series/

      I don’t know you, you make your own decisions. The fact that this request seems inconceivable to consider is something worth examining, I think.

    2. Also, FAST READER!!

      1. Passing Leftie · ·

        I am a quick reader and it was a fantasic read! It helps that she had excellent taste in literature (read – shares my taste), and I’ve always thought the penetration metaphor was a little off – embracing or holding, seem so much more apt in the case of two equal people.

        Anyway, thank you for you time, and I’ll check out your link.

    3. I think it’s telling that you can’t figure out for yourself what it means to be told to stop fucking women, even after having read Intercourse. Don’t be a lazy thinker and let what you’ve read and thought and felt sink in. Think of a concrete alliance with goals and strategies and think how you could fuck that up, literally and metaphorically.

    4. arlette81 · ·

      wait, what? men have to give up sex in order to be allies, that’s ridiculous.

  6. men will never be feminist allies because they will never give up PIV. asking them to stop using porn and prostituted women is even asking too much in most cases, but literally insisting that they never again stick their dick into any woman under any circumstances, (with the only possible exception being that the woman desires to become impregnated by him) is a nonstarter. i daresay that NONE of them are willing to go “that far” despite the demonstrable fact that PIV is the foundation of patriarchy and male privilege, and the greatest source of female suffering globally. the ONE THING that would work is the ONE THING they will not do. and this tells me everything i need to know about how seriously they take any of this, and how much they value women, and how much they are invested in their own privilege and how they dont see women as equal or even human at all — PIV pathologizes womens reproductive biology and others us. therefore it is HATE, in action, but no one sees it that way, especially not men, and perhaps especially not “feminist” men who claim to love women so much, including “making love” to them. with their dicks obvs.

    not a single fucking one of them is willing to go this far. and therefore they can all go fuck themselves AFAIC. literally and more literally.

    does that answer the question?

    1. Passing Leftie · ·

      Yes, indeed it does, thank you for your directness. This isn’t about me, so I’ll leave it here.

    2. Hi FCM. If you’d prefaced “PIV” with “mandatory” I’d agree with you completely “that PIV is the foundation of patriarchy and male privilege, and the greatest source of female suffering globally.”

      If my beloved never wanted PIV again that would be ok with me. OTOH, if I told her that in future I’d be denying her desire for PIV so as to be a better feminist ally, she’d quite rightly tell me not to patronise her.

      1. haha! yes being an antifeminist douchebag who abuses women is ok, as long as your girlfriend says so.

        thats a justification, not an actual valid reason to keep doing it, you know.

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