Seven Way to be a Better HeForShe Ally

By Chris Hildrew (@chrishildrew)

1. Check your privilege

If you are a man, you are automatically privileged. This doesn’t mean that you don’t face challenges in your life, or that you have it easy. What it does mean is that, as a man, you have not experienced the influence of the patriarchy from a female perspective. You just haven’t. Acknowledge this. Acknowledge that women, as a group, are subject to systemic oppression through a combination of societal and cultural norms established over centuries – and men are not. Keep this clear in your mind at all times.

2. Listen

Stop talking. Listen to the women. Don’t jump in. Genuinely listen to what they are telling you. Learn from it. No, shhhh. You don’t know best. That’s mansplaining. LISTEN.


3. It’s not about you

You are not the hero of this story. She is. I know – a story with a female hero? Believe me these things can exist. They do exist. When you are an ally, don’t make it about you. Don’t expect recognition, plaudits or credit for your work as an ally. Because it’s not about you. When we take another step towards equality, everybody wins. You don’t have to.


4. Don’t use “not all men.” Don’t you dare.

It’s natural, when you’re hearing about the negative experiences women have had at the hands of the patriarchy, to muster some kind of defence of our sex. You’re not personally responsible for the oppression, for treating her badly; you didn’t assault her; you didn’t make that demeaning comment. It may be tempting to reach for the “not all men are like that…” card. Don’t. Of course not all men are like that. But some are. And she knows that. Women know that. The use of “not all men” attempts to diminish the painful, frustrating or humiliating experience that is being described. That experience happened. It should not be diminished. Help her to move on from it, to build resilience, to develop a strategy to use in similar situations in future – but don’t “not all men” her. Don’t you dare.


5. Amplify the contributions of women

Research shows that, in mixed groups, women get less “air time” than men (Leaper & Ayres, 2007). Men dominate conversations and discussions, both as students in school and as participants in meetings. Be aware of this, and make it your responsibility to encourage and amplify the contributions of women. During meetings, repeat and attribute positive contributions made by women: “yes, and as Sarah said…” or “that builds on what Leyla was saying earlier…” Watch out for women being interrupted, and intervene: “just let Ellen finish, please.” And check your own behaviour – are you an interrupter? Or a credit-taker?


6. Talk to other men

Discuss gender inequality with other men. Make an issue of it. Look at the published gender pay gaps of organisations, including schools and MATs, and talk about what can be done. Recruit more allies. Share the HeForShe pledge, the WomenEd book, and blogs like this. Equality is an issue for all of us.


7. Learn to apologise

You will certainly get it wrong. We all do. If someone takes offence at what you’ve said or done, you have offended them, whether you meant to or not. Don’t try and excuse yourself. Just man up and apologise – and learn from what you did wrong so you don’t make the same mistake again.


Resources which can help men be better allies:

• #LeanInTogether:

• #HeForShe:

• 10% Braver Book:

• Collaborating with Men Project from Murray Edwards College, Cambridge:

• How Men Can Become Better Allies to Women:

HeForShe A Call to Arms

The Teacherist

This blog was originally written for the Womened blog. If you agree with anything in this blog, I would advocate following and supporting the movement. @Womened

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I don’t believe in a world where women are treated differently men, a world where your ‘gender’ plays an integral role in predicting the story of your life.

As a member of the global majority (non-white), I have been asked on numerous occasions why I identify as a feminist? Why indeed? It is true that within many Asian cultures, for a multitude of reasons, women are not treated with the same level of respect, dignity and basic humanity as their male counterparts. However, whilst it is a ‘different’ form of discrimination in Western culture, there is discrimination none-the-less.

As a member of the global majority (non-white), I have been asked on numerous occasions why I identify as a feminist. How does a…

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The Will To Change

Written by @CarrieStarbucks

When Pran Patel explained his main drive to create HeforSheEd was to provide a platform for male allyship to gender equality within education and asked if I would write an article on the topic, I was like Bambi’s mother caught in headlights.

 I do not have a clue what male allyship looks like. The #metoomovement has changed everything; men are walking a tightrope and women have taken away the safety net of their silence. It has thrown the whole system out of sync and we are scurrying around like rats in a maze trying to find the centre. I do, however, know what male allyship does not look like.

On International Women’s Day, Head of Content at TES, Ed Dorrell, wrote about his ‘mea culpa on how, despite 74% of teachers being women, the majority of their external contributors are male, and I’m willing to bet, white, middle-to-upper-class males at that.  

In fairness, Ed Dorrell addresses the lack of female writers could be down to his unconscious bias in the opening lines of the article but soon dismisses it because, “if the words are golden, the argument is strong, and the article adds to one of the many debates that engulf education,” it doesn’t matter to him. Ah, if only women were more talented it would make his ‘passive gender blindness’ so much easier, I can hear him sigh.

It also acknowledged that women may have less time to write because although they are strong, intelligent women responsible for shaping future generations, they are after all, still domestic servants with duties at home. The TES team muse that men are more likely to put themselves forward than women and in their busy 24-hour-news-cycle environment they want quick opinion pieces, from well, those that have the guts to put themselves forward.

The message is clear; women are solely responsible for changing an inherently sexist institution and we are the merciful patriarchs opening the doors for you to finally join our little boy’s club. 

Dorrell’s ‘idea of no excuses’ and a promise to seek out talented female writers, may have just about saved the day, but it was quickly demolished by a thoughtless tweet from one of his teammates calling for women to get in touch, which once again proves the belief that the political football of achieving gender equality is firmly at the feet of women.

 That, coupled with the fact the TES team had to suddenly create submission guidelines following the response, shows they had given little thought on what their supposed call for change actually looked like.

While I have no doubt the intentions behind the article were good, it doesn’t detract from the fact it was a clumsy, ill-thought-out, see-through attempt to jump on the bandwagon of female empowerment on International Women’s Day.

That is not allyship. That is men flouting their dominance in the disguise of being charitable patriarchs.

Of course, there is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t, exasperation to all this. I get it. I’m tired too. The men in my life often say they feel like they are walking on eggshells, desperate to not offend, eager to help but are unsure what the rules are now. And I, like many women since #metoo and #timesup, feel a rage that has been suppressed for years bubble uncontrollably over, which makes conversations about allyship difficult.

I’m not perfect either and recently, I have been acting like a bull in a china shop. I am an intersectional feminist. This is such an integral part of my identity I’m pretty sure my heart beats to the rhythm of the saying, “your feminism isn’t feminism unless it’s intersectional.”

But yet, I am researching masculinity in men’s mental health. I am asked almost daily, “why men?”I carry with me the most cutting remark I have ever received, like a broken shield on my back, “when you’re done, have a look at women yeah?”It’s hardly abusive but the acidic accusation of betrayal drips from every syllable and burns my skin.

When I stumble over my words to explain why I choose to focus on men’s mental health, I have

Bell Hooks’ words echo in my ears;

“We were the feminists who could not be trusted because we cared about the fate of men.” 

I may get that tattooed on my arse.

The thing is, the deep divide between the sexes and our subsequent muddled attempts to come together, is something like Harry Potter’s he-who-shall-not-be-named. We rarely discuss it. We give it many names – sexism, chauvinism, misogyny– but we rarely recognise that it creates victims of both men and women. We never name it for what it truly is. But like Harry naming it diminishes its power; Lord Voldemort, The Patriarchy.

Or if we really want go in hard, imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

The words may feel heavy, unnatural, even radical; reserved for the man-hating, bra-burning of the 1960s. My alienation from the word is why I have been making a conscious effort to use patriarchy over other terms such as sexism. I do this because words like sexism is so closely aligned with the female experience that it can be easily dismissed by men as irrelevant to them, which is at the heart of the problem of male allyship. The Patriarchy is a male problem as much as it is a feminine one.

 The Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists males are inherently dominant and powerful. Patriarchal thinking shapes the values of our culture and we are socialised into this system, females as well as, males. Patriarchy with its rigid gender roles demands of men that they become and remain emotionless, which is deeply harmful to not only their emotional development but how they form relationships and is that not the source of happiness – fulfilling relationships from best friends to lovers?

Patriarchy imprisons men in a system that undermines their mental health, and ultimately, patriarchy brainwashes men to believe domination over others is a privilege, a privilege they do not want to or cannot give up.

That is why despite the many gains we have achieved – greater equality of women in the workforce, same-sex marriage, and more tolerance for the relinquishing of rigid gender roles – patriarchy, as a system, remains intact.

The press is full of ‘crisis in masculinity’ headlines and pundits like Piers Morgan, claim women have gone too far in their demands and trying to take power away from men. Much like Carol Dweck’s, Growth Mindset, workshops to help boys and men escape the ‘man box’ are the latest ticket in town with a fancy price tag to match.

The crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity, it is the crisis of patriarchal masculinity. Until we can make this distinction clear, men will continue to perceive any critique of the patriarchy as a threat and any attempts of change will be met with fear.

Until we can collectively acknowledge the damage the patriarchy causes and the suffering it creates, we cannot change.

Until men realise that they must save themselves from their own oppression, we cannot change.

Until we realise the two perspectives of men as oppressors and that people are people who are all hurt by rigid sex roles, coexist, the sooner we can begin to work together to dismantle a system that harms us all.

Allyship won’t even be a thing, it will be just people coming together with the indestructible will to change.



From @CarrieStarbuck. If you would like to support Carrie’s work researching men’s mental health and her writing then please do consider becoming a Patreon from as little as $1 or 77p per month.



Guide: What is Male Allyship?

From: Claire Nicholls @Bristol_teacher

What do Women want from Male Allies?

Well, what this woman wants.

I can’t speak for all women, but when Pran asked me to write something about male allyship, I jumped at the chance because it’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently.

I’ve written a little about men before, here and here, but this post is specifically, as asked, about what men can do to be good allies to women. Much of it also applies to other marginalised groups, but I’m staying in my lane here.

So, this is what I want:

Recognise that women aren’t all the same

This sounds obvious. However, it’s clear that most feminism centres around middle class white women. I’m not saying some of those campaigns aren’t hugely valuable, but understand that trans women, women of colour, poor women, disabled women (etc) face more complex issues than others. Wherever you can, support these women. You can learn more about intersectionality by watching Kimberlé Crenshaw’s Ted Talk.

Magnify our voices

Women don’t get adequate recognition for their ideas and labour (source: the whole of history). If you read a great book by a woman, share it. If you know a woman who is an expert in a certain field, recommend her. See a great tweet by a woman? You can simply retweet it. Not quote tweet it, with your ideas added, but retweeting the original tweet. Even just adding “this 👇🏻” means that you’re generating traffic for your own tweet rather than hers.

Give up some of your platforms

This is a tough one. But sitting on an all-male panel legitimises it, no matter how much you later say it was a shame there weren’t any women involved. The more you take action, the more the message gets out. If you notice you’re one of several men asked to do something, ask if they’ve considered asking a woman. If you’re organising an event, ask women to be an equal part. If you don’t know any women who are experts in the field, ask around. Organisations like Women Ed can help.

Don’t take it personally 

I’m white. Unpacking my whiteness has been, and continues to be uncomfortable. I’ve often felt defensive. But in order to strive to be an ally, I need to do this. I imagine it’s the same for men striving to be good allies to women. You’re going to feel attacked. You’re going to want to defend yourself as different and distant from the toxic masculinity that women like me talk about. Please understand that it usually isn’t about you. It’s about systems. It’s about power. But you as an individual can make a difference. Sit with your discomfort and listen to what women are saying.

Respect all women

Women deserve respect because they’re people. Some men only seem to realise this once they have a daughter. Or relate ill-treatment to female relatives (‘imagine if that was your mother!’) Women don’t need to be wives, mothers or sisters to be respected. Relate to us as people. Respect our ‘no’ on its own, without the need for a (real or imagined) male partner to defer to. No woman should have to use ‘I have a boyfriend’ as a reason to turn you down.

It’s also very obvious if you’re not following Lisa Simpson’s advice:


Don’t use a woman to prove your bad point

Women disagree with each other. Passionately. If you try hard enough, you’ll find women who agree with your opinion, even if on the face of it, that opinion is strongly anti-woman. Let us have those arguments. If a woman calls you out on something, ‘but my wife/mother/boss/friend thinks so too’ isn’t a justification. If you’re talking about issues which affect women, then you need to listen to women. Repeatedly telling a woman she’s wrong about women’s issues is not a good look.

Focus your energy on men

Related to the above, if you think a woman holds a wrong opinion on something related to women’s issues, leave it. You’re either (a) wrong, or (b) right but it’s not your lane. If it’s the latter, you’ll be unlikely to be effective as you’ll get told you’re being patronising, mansplaining or shouldn’t have a voice in the debate. A good strategy in this situation is to ask a woman for her advice. We can have those conversations ourselves. What we need you to do is challenge other men. Unfortunately, most of the men who need challenging are more likely to listen to and respect the opinions of a man. Use that to your advantage.

Know better, do better

It’s ok to have a less than perfect history. It’s ok to have made mistakes and continue to do so. Own them, apologise sincerely (I’m sorry that you were hurt/offended is not an apology) and do better next time. We don’t expect you to be perfect. We shoulder enough internalised misogyny to understand that it’s hard to change the messages you’ve received your whole life. We’d like you to try though. Preferably without drawing attention to how much of a great ally you are. If you’re out there doing the work, we’ll see you.


He for She Ed: The Charter

Welcome, Thanks for joining us!


  1. To be committed to fighting for gender equity.
  2. To question male only/biased events, give up our voices and platforms.
  3. To engage in self-reflection (of internalised biased) before interaction involving power (avoiding male fragility)
  4. To recognise that women aren’t the same. (including the issues around trans women, women of colour, poor women, disabled women (etc) are far more complex)
  5. To magnify female voices from a QT to sharing a book title. As women don’t get adequate recognition for their ideas and labour.
  6. To focus our energy on men. As an ally, it’s not our job to tell women anything about their oppression.


All oppression is intersectional but so is privilege. It is your duty to use your privilege to empower those without it.

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