The benefits of allyship

Why should a cis-gendered man advocate for the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people?

“Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. … Our genes may instruct us to be selfish, but we are not necessarily compelled to obey them all our lives. It may just be more difficult to learn altruism than it would be if we were genetically programmed to be altruistic.”

Richard Dawkins, “The Selfish Gene”

As I’ve written elsewhere, the reasons for my advocacy for women, queer people, and other marginalized groups stem from two sources:

  1. A need to satiate my own desire — often unfulfilled — to be treated equally by others.
  2. A curiosity to explore the extent to which I can use my unique privilege to help those without it.

International Women’s day is but one day. And rather pitifully, it is a day when the unkempt machismo of many men compels them to conduct embarrassing searches on Google. However, it can also be a time to redouble one’s commitment to helping others. To use one’s privilege for good. To resolve to create a society that’s better than what our genes may have predisposed us to do.