Calling on the male embodied allies to women’s equality to use their privileged status to have real conversations among fellow men (all) about why #YesAllWomen is the telling of real experiences and how #NotAllMen isn’t the point here*. How systemically disadvantaged groups require that those with privilege do the heavy lifting (emotional labor and activism) to change the system from within. I’ll continue to do my part with my privilege where I have the opportunity to do so.
I am asking–as a woman who experiences fear, stigma, and oppression regularly in this patriarchy, in small and large ways–that the men who I know who have the knowledge to and desire to have these conversations, and who articulate their knowledge clearly and from a situated position, do so outside their comfort zones and beyond their typical circles. I ask for those who aren’t quite there yet to keep learning and stretching and growing so that you get there.
So many of my friends who are men are activists and work in this regard, such men are among us and have important conversations about consent, patriarchy, and challenging notions of binary and compulsive gender (among other issues of identity). I’ve written about them in The New Yorker, Bert, & Ernie: Man friends. One of them has a show that often features issues in this regard, The Forum on WERW; two of them work regularly across the US to challenge notions of masculinity and with it to disrupt patriarchy and work as men against violence against women on MasculinityU and other such sites; and others are college instructors who incorporate these issues in their classrooms so as to pass along the teachings of social justice to future generations. All of them challenge systemic injustice in their daily lives in many ways.
I’m asking these friends and colleagues and others among you to continue to do so. I’m asking that you challenge social norms, jokes, comments, and denials of women’s experiences and humanity in the situations where it feels safe to do so – and challenge yourself to do so still in situations where it is physically safe, yet may feel less safe emotionally. I’m asking that you continue the fight for all equality for all identities and utilize your (sometimes unwanted and conflicted feelings of having) male privilege in this struggle. I’m asking as a woman who still feels very unsafe in daylight, let alone in darkness, when walking to my car.
I’m asking as a woman who fears that rejecting a man’s unwanted attention may result in a scene, or worse, if I don’t let him down very nicely, so as to maintain and not injure his ego.
And so much more. I will keep working to challenge the extreme and unattainable demands of (hyper) masculinity in all the ways I can. I ask that you keep doing what you’re doing and in such a way that continues to widen the circle of these conversations. I appreciate each of you.
Please. I can hardly read about all the experiences of #YesAllWomen knowing they are but a fraction of what actually happens every second of every day to my sisters the world over.*If you don’t believe all these women’s stories… listen to the men who do and why they do. Perhaps you’ll believe them. And when you do… maybe you’ll have a moment where you ask yourself why you didn’t believe the many women who said so in the first place and the volumes that actually says.