How Men Can Fight Sexism: A guest post by Sarah Cook

This floated past on Facebook the very day I’d been That Guy. Twice. (I’d essentially said “That’s the game. You can choose not to play.” about a bit of game which isn’t terribly inclusive. And I’d assumed a game’s players weren’t mostly male without counting.) So. This bears repeating at me, and here it is for you too…

Sarah’s handy dandy list

Remember your perception is going to be skewed. You will think there are more women than there are. You will think they are talking / participating more than they are. You will perceive low levels of participation as equal.

Counter this by counting. Seriously. Just take a quick mental note of Women In Spaces and Places.

Give women space. Let them come forward. Encourage this. Especially if they are shorter. Do not use your physicality to block them out.

Get used to the sound of women speaking. Encourage women to talk. Give them the floor.

Listen to them. Use active listening.

Do not talk over them. Do not shout them down.

Don’t just wait until it’s your turn to speak and don’t repeat what they have said using slightly different words. If someone else does this then call them out. Call them out good and proper. Say “X just said that. You’ve repeated what X said. Were you listening to X at all?”

When going to a group don’t just introduce yourself to the man in the group, and if you ONLY know the name of the man apologise and ask the women’s names. Or pretend to not know anyone’s name.

Learn their names. Learn their characters names. Talk to them directly.

Encourage other men to do the same.

OTHER PEOPLE’S AWESOME TIPS

If you’re The Man that people come to talk to with other women around you who get ignored, immediately involve them in the conversation too.

Someone to The Man: “I’m really sorry for your loss.”
The Man: “Thank you, X and I are really sad.”

If you’re usually striding off into the distance leaving women to run behind and catch up, then SLOW DOWN! Walk behind or beside them instead.

If you are speaking to The Man IC because you know the player OC and therefore are more confident with that interaction, take time to get to know the other (female) players. Introduce yourself OC later. After that initial IC contact, branch out and speak too other group members.

Encourage women to do stuff like take up leadership roles (if they want to – it can be very stressful so check in) and support them IC and OC. Many groups unconsciously make the men the most prominent and society encourages this. If you have a female leader defer to her, encourage others to do the same. Say loudly “I am not the leader X is. Ask X”

If (as a man) your female leader is present and other people start talking to *you* or start splitting their visual focus between you and her, switch your gaze away from them and *onto* your female leader. If you retain visual focus on your leader, those talking will follow suit.

Support your female group leader ooc too, especially with the behind the scenes stuff that no one gets medals for (but should). Administration, downtimes and queries take chunks of time from an often busy schedule.

On a similar note the “caregiving” tasks like cooking, washing up, providing snacks and drinks for group and guests, making the camp and set dressing look good, costume etc are often done by women. Learn how to do these things and do them.

On a similar, similar note women are often the ones who look after the kids at events and this is hard work *and* can render them invisible. Look out for parents with kids and give them space in meetings, let them sit at the front, and be patient with the presence of children.

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