Dear Lois, In a time when women’s bodily autonomy is under attack, how can men be allies?

Illustrated portrait by James Boyle.

Let’s say that the toothpaste splattered on the bathroom mirror bothers you. Every time you clean the mirror you are reminded that you’re the only person who does this job and it’s frustrating that no one else cares enough to clean it up.

The first step toward peace of mind is finding out if you are the person making the mess. Clean the mirror, then brush your teeth and observe. If it’s you, let the resentment go, keep cleaning up after yourself and modify the action.

If someone else is making the mess, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. They just need the information that stepping back from the mirror reduces the splatter. Easy.

This type of change is respectful, not because the person was asked to change, but because that person acknowledged the unspoken expectation that someone else shouldn’t have to clean up their splattered mouth grime.

In a mutually respectful relationship, it’s safe to address domestic issues without fear of an argument. The person who made the splatters would thank the person who has been cleaning up after them, and then change the behavior to avoid perpetuating the issue.

Now let’s say that you are bothered by how saturated our country is with misogyny. Everywhere you look you see the patriarchal grime that is covering our social behaviors and everyday life. It’s frustrating and you are tired of feeling alone in the melodrama of how it plays out in real time and how it impacts the home.

The first step is finding out if you are perpetuating misogynistic behaviors. Check your values, self-respect, dignity, let the resentment go (but get fired up) and then keep pushing toward liberation.

If the people around you are overcome with patriarchal indoctrination it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Everyone is. They just need the information that to be an ally they need to modify behaviors.

Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there are a lot of voices asking men to speak up about what is happening to women in this country. And frankly, many men don’t know what to do or say.

My suggestion is to listen and quietly work on modifying behaviors where you are. Now more than ever women need support, not dominance. It’s time for men to be more submissive and give up some of their everyday liberties, like splattering toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror and not cleaning up.

In a mutually respectful relationship it’s safe to address female liberation in a practical way. If women weren’t so busy managing and maintaining their homes and taking care of the domestic needs of men, they might find more time to fight for liberty and political autonomy. But not only fight: women need to heal and make sense of what was just lost.

In addition to voting for women’s rights, the best way for men to support women (in this war against them) is by being overly active participants in the home. Make yourself useful and learn how to be there for the women in your lives during this time when they need you the most. Help take the edge off in practical ways. If you don’t know how, learn and take lessons.

Be reasonable about the reality of what women just lost; getting on one’s knees to clean the floor should not be that big of a deal.

In doing this it will give women the much-needed hope that things do change. Let your domestic actions be revolutionary and meaningful.

Illustration by Lois Volta.

Lois Volta is a home life consultant, artist and founder of The Volta Way. Send questions to

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