I don’t care what people call themselves. It’s what they believe and what they do that matters. The main thing is just to treat a woman with the same level of respect with which you would treat a man. That’s difficult, because men often don’t realise that they’re not doing it.
"Don’t be a dick. That’s basically it. Stand back and think, "Am I being a dick?" – and if you are, then stop it."
If you take the central idea that women are human beings, and we’re not there to please you or provide decoration, and our brains are just as good as yours, then street harassment or mansplaining would be less likely to happen, because those are things you’d only do to someone you don’t regard as a proper human being. It’s just about treating people with respect and decency. Don’t be a dick. That’s basically it. Stand back and think, "Am I being a dick?" – and if you are, then stop it.
Men who say they’re feminists often don’t behave in a feminist way. They can be incredibly patronising and domineering, and engage in all the sexist behaviours that feminism is trying to deal with. Sometimes it’s malicious, but often they don’t realise they’re speaking over women and telling them they’re wrong. I think it’s easy to tell when a guy’s overenthusiastic and when a guy’s just an arsehole.
I’m not really interested in male critiques of feminism. Given that we live in a world where men have social power that women don’t tend to have, a man criticising a woman for the way she tries to liberate herself from gender doesn’t make sense within feminism. Every man should read the Onion piece Man Finally Put in Charge of Struggling Feminist Movement.
There are environments where men should stand back. If it’s a group of women who want to talk freely about male violence, for example, then it’s better not to be there, because then they won’t be able to do that. Push women’s voices forward instead of speaking yourself. Men struggle to do that because they’re so used to being able to speak – but part of what feminism is trying to achieve is to give women a voice that’s respected and heard.
Finding ways to enable women to help themselves is a good tactic. One place that men can and should speak is to other men – because a feature of sexism is that men are less likely to listen to women. And you know what it’s like to live as a man, so you can communicate to a man in a way that a woman can’t.
The number one way men can be feminists? Do some fucking housework.