Are YOU a man that needs a list of what is acceptable behaviors towards women?

Do you CONSTANTLY feel annoyed and defensive when a women brings up the topic of misogyny?

Are you TRIGGERED by the word “feminist?”

Do you feel like this issue is RUINING your life?

Well, GREAT! You are in luck! This article is JUST FOR YOU! Join us as we explore why on earth these issues are SO incredibly difficult for our community to grasp.

Let’s start with some definitions:

pa·​tri·​ar·​chy | \ ˈpā-trē-ˌär-kē  : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power (this can be literal or figurative–please avoid the “token woman” argument when trying and failing miserably to defend patriarchy.)

sex·​ism | \ ˈsek-ˌsi-zəm  : prejudice or discrimination based on sex especially: discrimination against women. behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex (kind of like calling her derogatory names because she shares an opinion different than yours.)

mi·​sog·​y·​ny | \ mə-ˈsä-jə-nē : hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women. (CAN BE A SPECTRUM OF PASSIVE AGRESSIVE ACTIONS-like blocking women on a page or community that you control just because you don’t like what they are saying-TO VIOLENT ABUSE-like threats, intimidation, doxxing.)

It is no secret that patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny are issues within the church. But do you realize that you are engrained to not be able to recognize these things because they were presented to you as normal throughout your life? They were modeled for you as beneficial and necessary even. So it makes sense how you may not even know you contribute to upholding these harmful systems without realizing it, right? WOW!! And now, you may be thinking, Oh no, not me. But yes, you. I assure you, YES YOU. (Hint: If you don’t think its in you, that is a sure sign it is.)

Public Service Announcement: Again, if you think you are the exception, you can automatically know that you aren’t. See, it’s easy!

Within the post-Mormon support groups, online forums, and community as a whole, women have shared concerns about these systemic issues. It seems as though their lived experiences and their feelings are often being dismissed by men, just as they are in the church so often. Women take the time to educate on things like the patriarchy and how it upholds misogyny and men in turn respond with defensiveness. They center the issue on themselves (hint: because patriarchy). Then they usually always proceed to make some uninformed declaration about why women don’t have a right to share their experiences because it hurts the man’s feelings. (Not joking, wish I was.)

I want to be clear here: Men are continually operating under the assumption that their feelings must always take precedence over the participation of women within the community. And this hurts women. Period. This makes our community unsafe. Period. This creates a lot of the same problems we all experienced in the church. Period.

Since some big names in the Ex-Mormon community apparently seem to think that men need lists of ways to acceptably behave when it comes to women, I’ve made one! Too bad I can’t actually share this with the people that asked for it, since I was blocked when I tried to point out that asking women to make lists for men of how to behave is both infantilizing to men AND exploitative of women. But hey, you asked for it, so here it is:

Rules for Men #1: DON’T DELETE STUFF. (Even when you feel like a complete idiot, because a women schools you five ways to Sunday about all the flaws in your logic. Even when you feel like if you delete, there won’t be a record of how you messed up. Even when you feel like by deleting your mistake, its as if it didn’t happen at all. SORRY! But it just does not work that way.) No one can learn anthing if all the work to educate, discuss and unpack these deep and pervasive issues is deleted like it never happened.

When you delete a post or response, often called dirty deleting, it is a way that you whitewash your actions and sidestep the emotional labor of women. No doubt you have learned this from the church. Whitewashing history and deleting the emotional labor of women, while dismissing it as expected and required, while also undervaluing it greatly, are all things that happen in the church. We discuss theses things at length in our community. SO WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING THESE SAME THINGS AFTER YOU LEAVE THE CHURCH? (Hint: Because you’ve taken patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny with you.)

Here are some helpful pro-tips: If you feel the need to delete something, press pause and take a few deep breathes. Calm down. It is just a disagreement between two people. Try smiling. Really though, it is NOT THE END OF THE WORLD if you don’t know something. People won’t think less of you. You are still a valid person even if a women tells you something you did not know before. Really though, when a woman takes time to respond and offer her perspective, may I suggest taking time to just sit with the words she shared without responding right away?

You can also, instead of responding with anger because of the wound to your ego, respond in a variety of ways, which include but are not limited to:

  • “Thank you”
  • “I did not know this”
  • “I need to think about what your have shared here”
  • “I need to unpack some of these thoughts”
  • “Thank you for taking time out of your day to share your insight so that others can learn.” (my personal favorite)

See, not too difficult, huh? Being called out for errors in thinking or illogical arguments or unnecessary defensiveness does not mean that you are flawed as a person. It is not a personal attack on you when a woman takes time to educate YOU and share something with YOU that may help YOU. Instead it is because she feel strong enough at that moment to invest in trying once more to better her own community, likely knowing her efforts will inevitably turn out to be deleted, discounted, dismissed, and devalued. It is because she knows the only way to achieve equality is through feminism because it counteracts patriarchy. It is because she hopes you will come to know this, too.

Rules for Men #2: CHECK YOUR DEFENSIVENESS AT THE DOOR, ALONG WITH YOUR PRIVILEDGE. See, when women take time to explain something, share how they feel, or offer their perspective and then you immediately feel defensive about a woman’s commentary, it is a sign that you may have not done the important work in examining your own attitude towards things like patriarchy. We get it, it is SO REPULSIVE to think that you could be sexist or misogynist. No one wants to be these things. But no one is immune to them. Think COVID before the shots. WE ALL HAVE TO BE AWARE of this plague and take precautions, even if we are totally convinced that we are not contributing to the problem. Just by existing, we contribute to the issue because there would not patriarchy without men to uphold it.

Time and time again, I see women not criticizing individuals personally but moreover offering meaningful, insight on the systems and processes that uphold sexism and misogyny and patriarchy in our community. Then men tend to get defensive because they know that just by being men they are part of the issue. THIS IS NOT PERSONAL. Please read that again, since I can feel your blood pressure rising. THIS IS NOT PERSONAL. It just is what it is. If you care to study patriarchy and misogyny you will learn this. It is not an attack on men. It is commentary on systemic patriarchy and its harms as a whole. Think big picture, not small scale.

Rules for Men #3: DO YOUR OWN WORK. Ok, so here’s the deal: none of what women typically share is personally directed to you or meant to be personal to you or a criticism of you personally. Is there clear enough? Its NOT PERSONAL, so stop treating it that way. Please understand that when you feel defensive, we see that it may be because you know that sexism and patriarchy and misogyny exist. You also likely know that you benefit greatly from these things. Your presence as a man contribute to these systems whether or not you support them and uphold them by your actions. There is a lot to unpack here. No one can do this for you but you.

When you ask and expect women to educate you, it is a subtle form of sexism because you are assuming that women exist to serve your needs. When women share and take time to educate about the work they have done to unpack these issues, it can be mentally and emotionally laborious for us. We get TIRED, y’all, of saying the same things over and over and over again. Then when you refuse to listen after we do this labor, it makes it even worse. You are undervaluing and discarding our contribution as meaningless. This is also sexist and misogynistic in nature.

Rules for Men #4: DON’T WITH THE “NOT ALL MEN.” Just don’t do it. Please. DO NOT DO THIS. I don’t care if you helped an elderly person cross the street today. I don’t care if you got 10 gold stars on your chore chart. I don’t care if you have five sisters and somehow speak the magic language of woman. When women comment on oppressive systems and processes like patriarchy, it is vastly different than commenting on individuals personally. They may use individual examples to illustrate their point about the overarching system of patriarchy or misogyny. Then when men respond with “not all men” it is wholly unhelpful and uninformed because in it it is an attempt to excuse away patriarchy and sexism as a system that is oppressive to entire groups of people. Using the “not all men” argument also contributes to and enable the actions that are at the root cause of the problem to begin with. When you say “not all men,” it is a way of virtue-signaling that you are not like the other men and it also stems from your assumption that you can/should control women’s voices.

Pro-tip: Under no circumstances should you quote, bring up, or link to Jordan Peterson. Just don’t. Trust me on this one.

Rules for Men #5: UNDERSTAND ALLYSHIP. Ok, here’s the deal, when women say we would like your allyship in calling out other men we mean it. Oftentimes, instead of responding as a true ally to women, men respond with a selfish and self-centered comment aimed at protecting their ego, usually calling the woman names, discounting her feelings, and labeling her perspective as “angry” or “drama.” Can you see why women are so incredibly exhausted? Asking for allyship is a completely valid request from women who are so sick of living every day of our lives seeped in patriarchy whatever we do. When we leave the church, we do not get to leave patriarchy or sexism or misogyny. We can come right here in these groups, forums, “support” communities and see a lot of it. We deal with it everyday at our jobs, everyday when we go to the grocery store, every day when we workout at the gym. Try to understand what women do with every single day and why we are so tired of this. Try to understand why we are asking men to hold other men accountable, which we only do because we understand that we are still in a patriarchy and that men will listen to other men rather than listen to a woman. We have to borrow the power of men to spread our own message because we know that this is the only way it will be heard in the first place.

Let’s break this down further, here are some traits about allyship:

  • It is not a declaration, you don’t declare yourself an ally and get to be an ally
  • It is a series of actions that are continual and constant, showing that you understand these issues
  • It is not a mechanism for you to gain followers, influence, or benefit from
  • It mostly involves listening and unpacking your own stuff
  • It is not a mechanism for you to be a white knight to save women from the evil men
  • It does not take credit for the work of women and BIPOC for your own gain. Ever.

Look, patriarchy is harmful to you. Yes, you were harmed by it. It hurt you. It benefited you on the surface, but it harmed you as a human being deep down. Women get that, which is why we try so hard strive to stamp it out wherever it exists, in all its forms. Being an ally to women is not about only helping or caring about women, it is about helping EVERYONE.

***DISCLAIMER: Not responsible for the feelings of men after reading this post.***

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Lesley holds an RN, BSN from the University of Texas. Lesley has authored several published articles across a variety of platforms and is a frequent media contributor. She functions as a Community Health Nurse for vulnerable populations and serves as a survivor advocate for victims of abuse. She aims to raise awareness of the effects of trauma on individuals and how trauma impacts community systems. Lesley has certifications and training in Trauma-Informed Care, Community Advocacy, Faith and Spiritual Development, Familial Mental Health, Culturally Competent Care, Domestic Violence Awareness, and Resiliency Development. Lesley lives in Virginia with her 4 children and her really hyper chihuahua, named Chaos.

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