With just enough exceptions to prove the rule, men have taken almost no responsibility for patriarchy. Some men confuse taking responsibility with being sensitive to women, offering emotional support, or tolerating women’s anger and frustration. Men can be sensitive, however, without doing anything to challenge or undermine male privilege or to define gender issues as men’s issues, especially to other men. Even sensitive men can be drawn to the path of least resistance that defines problems such as housework, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and violence as women’s issues. This makes it easy for men to see themselves as “good guys”-loving helpers, loyal supporters, or valiant defenders who help women in a patient and caring way.
What such men often don’t do is the work of taking the initiative to decide what needs to be said, asked, listened to, discussed, fought over, attended to, and cared for in order to overcome the status quo’s foot-dragging inertia. When women get tired or confused or distracted by the everyday details of their lives, the responsibility these men take often lies dormant until the next time a woman feels compelled to risk making trouble by raising a “women’s issue.” And when women express anger at always having to carry the burden of figuring out patriarchy and doing something about it, these sensitive and supportive men may react as if they’re being unfairly criticized or even attacked, their exceptional and seemingly generous efforts unappreciated, their supposed immunity from reproach unfairly snatched away.
Allan G. Johnson in the Gender Knot
(YES! EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) My favorite words - “take the initiative”