MEN ARE PART OF THE SOLUTION

FOR GENDER EQUALITY

Men are part of the solution for gender equality yet Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Director of The Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stoneybrook University indicates that many men believe gender inequality has nothing to do with them as men.  

The truth is, we need more men to do more.

 

WE AS MEN NEED TO ACCEPT FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR PART IN ADVANCING GENDER EQUALITY

 

In Part 1 of this series entitled, Gender Equality Has Something In It For Everyone-Including Men, Dr. Kimmel discusses how men engage with the idea of gender equality.  Later in the series he'll share how men benefit from it.  I invite you to read Dr. Kimmel's transcript below or watch the video below.

Dr. Kimmel:

Well, thank you. Oh, I am so happy to be here.

I've been talking with Ray about this conference and how excited I was to participate in it for a really long time, so I don't know if you've already done all this but give it up for Ray Arata, once again.

And the fact that we're all in the room, you know, why did we come to this  because of him and his vision of how we can engage men and boys to support gender equality?  And he knows what the argument that I'm going to make is, that it's actually in our interest to do so. So, here's what we know.  What we know is that we cannot fully empower women and girls unless we engage boys and men.  It's really just that simple.  There's never been a reform ever that women wanted that didn't require men's support.  Like what?  Suffrage?... You know...men are necessary in this conversation.

WE CANNOT FULLY EMPOWER WOMEN AND GIRLS UNLESS WE ENGAGE BOYS AND MEN

So part of what I want to do is, I want to talk a little bit about how men engage with the idea of gender equality, typically, and then I'm going to talk about why we should.  Let me suggest that some of the ways in which we typically engage with gender equality in all workplaces, miss the mark.  

Justin Trudea, Canadian Prime Minister

Justin Trudea, Canadian Prime Minister

For example, when you propose gender equality, when you hear gender equality in an organization or workplace, very often men will say something like, “Well, yes it's right, it's fair, it’s just, it's Democratic.”  The ethical imperative basically, but I don't think that gets you very far with men, typically. I think the best example of the ethical imperative, probably is Justin Trudeau the Prime Minister of Canada, who when asked by an inquiring journalist, “Why is half of your cabinet women?” With this perplexed look he said “Because it's 2015.”  Right?  Because like, of course.¨

So, but I find as an American my job is to try to sell gender equality to men and it's a marketing question and that selling, the ethical imperative doesn't take us very far now.  A lot of men, when they first hear that there's going to be a gender equality thing in their organization they say, “Oh, yeah, okay.  We get it.  We will invite them to join us.”  Now what that means is, “We will set a place for women at the table but we won't change the menu, we won't change the seating arrangements and so you are welcome at the table as long as basically you act just like us.”

There's a third reaction, which is the, you've seen these guys that the light bulb goes off over their head and they suddenly get it like, “Oh, yeah women's oppression, I completely get it.” And then they begin to mansplain to women their oppression and they have an idea that men’s support for gender equality is something akin to the cavalry like, “Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention ladies, we'll take it from here.” This results in a syndrome that I like to call premature self-congratulation.

And then there's another response which is a resistance, which I will come back to in a couple of minutes.  But all of these ideas, all of these reactions -  Oh and then don't you have these like when you have diversity inclusion week or something in your organization, it's sort of interpreted by men as, “Be nice to the ladies week.”,  like it's like Black History Month.  Which mercifully for white people is the shortest month of the year and then we can go back to our 11 white history months, right?   

These are all the ways in which we react to it and if you'll notice there's one thing that runs common through all of them, which is, “(It) has nothing to do with us as men.”  As men, they always have something to do with being nicer to women, setting a place for women, being ethical about it but we don't really think that this has anything to do with men.

So what I want to do is, I want to take the phrase gender equality and I want to use that phrase to talk about two obstacles to men's engagement for gender equality and then I want to make the case about why we support it and why we should support it after I talk a little bit about those obstacles.

Now, the first obstacle has to do with the word gender in gender equality. And that is, those responses have nothing to do with men because we men most often don't think that gender has anything to do with us, we think it has to do with women.....(see Part 2 on this blog soon or you can watch it here now).

 

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