Last week when I introduced Part 2 of our Allies In Action blog series, I promised I would share tips on how men who want to be allies to gender equality can move through fear that might be holding them back.
Today, I follow through with that promise and we'll share Part 3 of Allies In Action on this blog next week.
Setting the Context
As men in the time of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, we have a choice: we can respond by standing up and speaking up, we can react or we can recoil. For women reading this, I want to start by acknowledging your efforts and the courage it takes to speak up, both as a group and as individuals. Your actions have put the light on what us guys need to do. This blog entry is directed towards the men. We have much work to do in order to be formidable partners! And we need the women’s support.
Women are calling out the bad behavior of men which is both unfortunate and necessary. This current “call out” phase has many men reluctant to say or do anything for fear of potential unintended consequences.
It is these men that I hope are the good majority, that I respectfully both invite and challenge to turn the fear into action by putting yourself on the path of being an ally. If you’re unsure about how to do this, a conscious partnership of the head and heart will allow you to acknowledge the feeling (in this case, fear) and consciously choose to “write a new story” about how you will act and where you will act from.
Using Your Head
Putting yourself on the path of being an ally and moving through fear requires you to both acknowledge and own your biases and their impact on others. This means that you are human. It doesn't mean is that there is something wrong with you. Bringing awareness to our biases, behaviors and their impacts, intended or not, allows us to make different choices about how we act.
Connecting With Your Heart
We men have the opportunity to step into healthy masculine behaviors, not just for ourselves, but for the young men who will follow us. A vital component is emotional literacy. Being an ally requires men to experience our emotions instead of reacting or recoiling away from them. An important step for allies is listening from the heart, with empathy and compassion, in order to hear the stories and challenges that women experience. It also requires us to take an interest in and learn about what is emotionally true for us.
Men Need Courage To Confront and Move Through Fears Of Being Allies
Men who want to be allies will need courage to confront and move through our fears.
The latin root of courage is Cor, which means heart. We experience our emotions with our heart. Experiencing fear and acknowledging it without recoiling from it is the trick.
Instead of remaining at a safe distance from experiencing the emotions that connect to the “old stories” in our heads about what we fear might happen, we can make the choice to access our courage and put ourselves on the path of being an ally. Turn your fear into positive action.
Why would you do this? I can’t answer that for you although Dr. Kimmel shares the benefits to men of engaging in gender equality in a prior blog found here. I can share that for me, it’s how I can look myself in the mirror and be proud of my choices to act. I can also share that I have powerful relationships with women who support me and partner with me. I can also find solace in knowing that I am modeling the kind of behavior for the men and women in my life that contributes to everyone feeling included, including me!
The alternative to stay silent, on the sidelines and be painted with the brush that says we are all the same is always an option, but you don’t have to choose it. I invite you to stand up and speak up, it's time.
Ray Arata, Founder of the Better Man Conference and Co Founder of Inclusionary Leadership Group
CALL TO SPEAKERS!
Better Man Conference 2018: Call To Speakers, Panelists, and More
We invite business professionals, concerned citizens, expert practitioners and allies to share their voices for the 3rd annual Better Man Conference. We are securing dates and locations soon, but looking forward to these timelines/locations:
- BMC New York- June 2018 (Application deadline April 15)
- BMC San Francisco- October 2018 (Application deadline August 2015)
We expect 150+ people in NYC and 250+ in SF. Previous registrants were 60/40 Men/Women and included:
- Executives, Leaders, Emerging Leaders, Change Makers.
- Human Resources, Diversity Staff and Council Leaders.
- Learners and Leaders seeking workforce inclusion.,
The conference theme, STAND UP. SPEAK UP. IT’S TIME. is intended to educate, inspire and move male allies into action in support of women and target groups. Given the context of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the focus of The Better Man Conference is on galvanizing men inside organizations by providing them with the tools to support partnership and the role that healthy masculinity plays. Learn more or apply here.