male feminists and allyship

Episode 25 – Male Feminists & Allyship (ft. Mark Henshaw)

What does the term ‘male feminist’ mean? What’s it like to be one? And what can both men and women do to create allyship? These are the questions of this week’s VulnerABILITY Podcast with host Marisa Donnelly and Mark Henshaw, a Canadian-born English Literature and Technology Educator living in China.

Inspired by my piece, “A Strong Man Is Not Intimidated By A Strong Woman, He Is Inspired,” Mark reached out to me with the hopes of discussing a new perspective of ‘male feminism’ and how men can support women in the ongoing (and often difficult) fight for equality.

In this episode, Mark and I ask the question: Can men and women work as allies rather than enemies?

Highlights from the Episode:

[5:40] “The experiences that I’ve had that have been challenging to me as a man who identifies as a feminist are not the same as, [are] not to be compared to, and do not diminish at all the experiences that women have had since the beginning of time when they’ve been fighting for their very rights to exist.

I don’t want to sound at all like I’m diminishing women’s experiences and frustrations they’ve had because women have carried, have sustained, have fought, and have done so much for the women’s movement. And not just for the women’s movement, but the human movement.”

[9:35] “How can we work together to understand each other’s perspective and make change happen in these different situations and places?”

[15:15] “I’ve asked this question time and time again: Why aren’t more men involved in this movement? Why aren’t more men in my life identifying as feminists?

[17:10] “Inviting people into the conversation, having openness, and even if things are coming off a certain way… that’s an opportunity… for more conversations.”

[18:50] “If somebody’s so damaged by their experiences and they’re emotionally charged, how can you expect that person to be open, to be receptive, to not be scared?”

[21:30] “My advice to men: Men need to listen first. They need to listen to women’s stories. They need to listen to women’s experiences. They need to listen to the silence, to the body language, to eye contact.”

[21:45] “And by listening and allowing space for a women’s presence to be…and not trying to do anything or control anything but listen, I think that’s probably the most simple and practical advice that I could give men in terms of what I feel that men are responsible to do in order to mend, repair, build, and grow positive, healthy, and platonic relationships.”

[23:00] “It’s not my responsibility as a woman, it’s your responsibility as a man to meet me here. But it’s also my responsibility as a woman to join you, and not stand in opposition all the time.”

[23:40] “How can we make one another strong? How can our strength, in different ways, build each other up?”

[27:40] “We want equality and we also want to disrupt patriarchy. How do we meet those two things? How do we come to a middle ground?”

[28:00] “Men have a special opportunity to listen, to observe, and then to take action in positive ways. [And] to take self-ownership.”

Notes On Self-Awareness as Influence:

[34:15] “When you give yourself space to think, clear your mind and you try to live that way – not just in those moments of mindfulness meditation, but throughout your day – you become more aware of your surroundings. You become more aware of yourself. And you become more aware of other people.”

[36:15] “Life is a balance between ourselves as individuals, our existence, our impact in the world, and how that impacts the world and the society around us. It’s a never-ending exchange, a give-and-take… And I do think it starts with us.”

Recommended Reading/Resources Mentioned:

*Disclaimer — The resources mentioned above are based on opinions, experience,  and personal research.  They are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution or guide, but references meant to help. It’s also important to note that although mindfulness is the focus, it’s not the only solution.

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