Dear Men of the World,
I get the sense that feminism makes you uncomfortable. For many of you, it might feel like this politically correct thing that you know you should support, but you don’t fully understand why. My hunch became abundantly clear at the recent Golden Globe awards, when a bunch of women stood up on stage to address the inequities in Hollywood, and from you, I heard nothing more than crickets.
I grew up surrounded by traditional men who believed women were capable of anything but were also perplexed — and at times even put off by — the concept of feminism, so I’m not judging you. In fact, I acknowledge the fact that the majority of you aren’t assholes. Even more, I applaud that many of you are downright good humans. While there are way too many tales of sexual harassment and misogyny to count these days, and some I’ve experienced personally, I’ve also been fortunate to find many of you who support and rally behind women just as you would for one of the guys. Thank you.
But being a “nice guy” isn’t enough. Not by the standards of our world today.
Like any oppressed and silenced group, women need advocates on the outside. We can shout, scream and demand change, but it will never, ever happen in a systemic way without your voices alongside ours.
I know speaking up for a group that is angry and frustrated can be scary, and that there is fear in using the wrong words or accidentally offensive. You may never fully understand the root of that anger and frustration, but I encourage you to learn. Learn about the fact that women are paid an average of 80 cents for every dollar a man earns for the very same work. Learn about the “Land of Opportunity,” which actually ranks 49th out of 144 countries in terms of gender equity — apparently there’s more opportunity for some than others. Learn about how women do the majority of housework, even when they’re the primary breadwinners. And then do something about it.
I know that silence feels safe. As someone who vocally supports women and minorities, I’ve felt this myself, and I can’t promise that your words will always be perfect. What I can promise is that if you don’t speak up, ask questions, or work to understand the conversations happening all around you, you will further inequity in the world.
I don’t believe you’re the type of guy who believes in inequity of any sort, much less wants to enhance it.
Assuming that you’re one of the good ones (and if you aren’t, feel free to peace out on your time machine), here are some ways that you can support the women of the world:
Spark a conversation among your male friends and question gender norms.
Do you envision certain career choices as inherently “male” or “female”? Are there certain roles at work or at home that are delegated, based on gender? If you have children, what do their rooms and toy selections look like? Challenge your own assumptions and those of your peers.
Call out the locker-room talking, cat calling and downright sexist perpetrators.
If they are your friends, you should be comfortable enough to talk some sense in them. If they don’t listen, consider finding some new friends.
Give women a voice.
Recommend women for speaking roles, job promotions, media opportunities and contributors to key decisions. When you’re in a group setting, take that extra moment to scan the room and ask a woman for her opinion. Your invitation may not be necessary, but it will make a difference. Add credibility and amplify, because even the tone of our voices can be a disadvantage.
Use your platform(s).
Whether on social media, in the workplace, at home, or in your local community, look around you and consider opportunities to support those working toward gender equity, and call out those who are tearing it down.
You’re one of the lucky ones with a voice that naturally commands authority. Use it for good.
Let’s keep progress moving in the right direction, because #MeToo is a conversation for #YouToo.