Today we are going to take a look at Jonathan McIntosh’s video “5 Ways Men Can Help End Sexism”. While this presentation is undoubtedly very well meaning it suffers from many of the same problems as other presentations about social issues in general often do.
This is not a comprehensive review of that video just an overview of the most problematic parts.
You can follow McIntosh at
The problems with this video start almost as soon as McIntosh begins to introduce the subject of the video. One of the first things he says is: “How can men help or how little should we be helping” – this assumes a subservient role for men which is unjustifiable because facts including facts about sexism are not “owned” by any one group of people, men can understand feminism as well as a woman.
“Feminism is a sociopolitical movement with the central goal of ending sexism and dismantling gender based oppression”
McIntosh’s definition of feminism is not very good, he does not cite where it is from and it uses loose, colloquial terminology – a better, more accurate definition can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of US English:
“The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
“It is especially vital to listen to women of color particularly black and indigenous women” – why not Asian or Latino?
“we shouldn’t go around interrogating or demanding answers from women”
It would never occur to me to ask random women about sexism since they likely would not know very much about it, being a woman does not make you an expert in all things related to women.
“If you make a comment and a woman dismisses or disagrees with you, don’t take it personally. She doesn’t owe you anything and her disagreement does not necessarily mean that she herself is angry or frustrated with you as an individual. That being said, it is completely understandable for women to express anger about sexism. Sexism should make everyone angry.”
“you don’t get a cookie for being a decent human being.”
Basic decency and social norms are not suspended when talking about feminism – I am not obligated to understand other people and their problems. Women certainly have the right to dismiss people and to not listen to them but they should expect that those people will not like them very much and will be much less likely to care about their problems in the future. As far as the comment about not getting a cookie – people are much more likely to do things they are incentivized to do, so while no one is obligated to appreciate efforts by men to understand and address sexism the less you appreciate it the less most men will do it.
There are also some good points made in the presentation as well, such a the fact that gender roles can be harmful to men as well, however his seeming reliance on exclusionary radical feminist theories which are usually shallow and unscientific detracts from the presentation.