Joss Whedon is no stranger to gender equality. He's been honored for his work on the issues, he's stood up to reporters who plied him with sexist questions and, of course, he's the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of the most badass female characters in recent TV memory.
And now he's providing sage wisdom for other dudes out there who want to support the cause. In an interview with Vulture, Whedon had the following to say when asked how to advise men who are shy about saying they're into feminism:
"Well, they need money, they need volunteers. Action is the best way to say anything. A guy who goes around saying 'I'm a feminist' usually has an agenda that is not feminist. A guy who behaves like one, who actually becomes involved in the movement, generally speaking, you can trust that.
"And it doesn't just apply to the action that is activist. It applies to the way they treat the women they work with and they live with and they see on the street."
He hits on a few great points: He's calling out men who claim to be heavily involved in the movement but who may not actually act like it in their everyday lives. What's more important, he argues, is supporting the cause through tangible behavior, which means how a man treats both women he knows and women he doesn't.
Otherwise, it's a case of a wolf in sheep's clothing — it's fine if you say you support equality, but catcalling a woman on the street when you think no one is watching obliterates all of that talk.
Others are joining in. Whedon isn't the only high-profile person of the male persuasion to come out in support of feminism. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt told the Daily Beast in August that he's a "believer that if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it's better for everyone."
In early October, Parks and Recreation's Aziz Ansari declared himself a feminist on the Late Show with David Letterman, saying, "If you look up feminism in the dictionary, it just means that men and women have equal rights." He added that one can't support equal rights and not call oneself a feminist: "If you believe that men and women have equal rights, if someone asks if you're feminist, you have to say yes because that is how words work."
Keep it up, guys. For many men, coming out as a feminist seems to be a terrifying proposition. (And, to be fair, many women are still afraid of the term.) But as Whedon, Gordon-Levitt and Ansari have shown, men won't spontaneously burst into flames if they utter the f-word.
Of course, as men participating in the movement, there are still guidelines — important ones — to keep in mind. Between this and Whedon's advice, however, it's becoming more difficult for men to hide from gender equality.