I’ve learned so much about male allies in the past few months. About their tenuous commitment to the cause. About their fragile egos and the heavy burden of dealing with female leaders. About how that leadership is inadequate when it’s not focused on supporting them and validating their feelings. How their mistakes are my fault. How they are disappointed in me. How they are afraid of me. How I take up too much space. Their anger at my boundaries. Their damning critiques of my ethics, my personality, and my work. Why they won’t associate with me if I’m allied with a group they don’t like. That I’m too radical and not radical enough. And of course, how I need to stop being so “bossy” and let them make the decisions.
I had to let them all go. It was hard. Those relationships weren’t casual; one had been my friend for six years. Another I had grown close to while living and working together in rough conditions for months. Another was assisting me with a legal case versus a stalker. Another was my partner of four and half years. (So goes the age-old story of the radical feminist and her Nigel.)
Is male allyship a lie? It’s so damn persuasive. I was willing to believe it, just as I believed so many lies men use.
With those comrades pledging to back me up, I felt strong for once. Like, with their support, I could confront the threats and the institutions trying to tear us down, and together we would win.
Losing their support has taken all that. I stopped organizing. No more public events. I feel like there’s no safety, no backup, no allies anywhere. I’m filled with rage and despair. Which, of course, I’m not allowed to express while the dudes are circling around, growling and snapping, for fear of exciting them further.
It’s like this: I need male allies. They are amazing. They can stand up and be applauded for things that would get food thrown at my head.
Not only that, I felt a huge debt of gratitude to these men. I would defend them to anyone.
In other words, I’ve been a sucker. Allowing men to speak for me. Growing dependent on them just because they say, “Trust me, I’m here to help you.” Believing them when they say “I’m not like all the others.”
But I’ve found the solution: Radical dudectomy. Cleansing my life of wannabe patriarchs. Withdrawing my time and energy from them and giving it back to my writing and organizing with women. I don’t even want to talk to dudes on the phone anymore. I’m decolonizing myself.
And now, I find I can breathe again.
Thank you for bearing witness to my struggle.