Supporting the women in your life is as easy as not pretending you’re one of them.

There are two types of male feminists in the world these days: Your friend who took a women’s studies course in college and Barack Obama. Of the two, Barack Obama is the right kind … even in spite of the penis I like to think he has.

He made this crystal clear in a moving essay for the Glamour last month which he came out staunchly as a feminist man. Praising the progress of American women over the past century, he denounced dated gender roles and the routine harassment women continue to face, all while pledging to continue to work on securing equal pay and reproductive rights for us broads in the future.

“We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear,” he wrote. “We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.”

Damn, Obama. It’s like you’re inside my head.

If you read his essay, and you should, you'll see that he got right what so many self-proclaimed “male feminists” get wrong. Instead of claiming to be part of a women’s movement and appropriating ladies’ values as his own — without actually understanding the challenges they face — he simply acknowledged our struggles, promised to support us, and took responsibility for enacting change himself.

That’s it. That’s all we need from men.

We don’t need you to pretend to know how we feel. We don’t need your sympathy. You don’t get a cookie for agreeing that we should kinda sorta get paid as much as you do. We need your ears, your support and for you to do something other than label yourself as one of us and feel self-satisfied for doing so.

Too often, men are applauded for showing up to the party, despite what they actually bring to it. They use feminism as an opportunity to talk down to women by explaining what the movement is to them, or they insist they’re “one of the good guys” all while retaining the same ingrained biases that continue to keep women as the more marginalized gender.

Because of this, the “male feminist” label has become nothing more than white noise, signifying little else than empty appropriation of a popular group’s issues. It’s like a Joy Division t-shirt you bought at Urban Outfitters; you wear it until someone asks you what your favorite track from Unknown Pleasures is, and then — your gig is up.

So instead of claiming to be a male feminist just because you think women also deserve to vote and serve in the military, use a different method to show your support.

Use the allyship model.

Long used by the queer community to describe straight folks outside the LGBT spectrum who are aligned with the movement’s goals, allyship promotes support rather than misguided appropriation. An ally is not an identity or a label; rather it’s what the Anti-Oppression Network calls “a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people.”

There’s an important lesson in allyship for self-proclaimed male feminists: men can and should work for gender equality, but sometimes that means less self-labeling and more action.

And of that action? You can show your support by talking to women, listening to them and supporting their needs. Recognize inequality in the world, get pissed off about it and do what’s in your power to change it. Go against the grain, and be one of the men who knows patriarchy sucks for more than just women. Dive face-first into your emotions and embrace them, unencumbered by the stupid belief that doing so will make you "girly." Make female friends you appreciate for who they are, not for the potential fuck they could be; who trust you to stick up for them without expecting any favors in return. Educate yourself. Then do it some more. Ask women questions about their experiences. Know you're entitled to nothing.

Allyship is not ownership; it’s being a humble guest in someone else’s struggle, learning from it, and doing what you can to make the world a more just and equitable place.

That distinction between labeling and action is important, not just for feminist men, but for everyone who wants to support people whose experience they cannot claim for themselves.