Did you watch Oprah accept her award at the Golden Globes this year? It’s powerful and worth a few minutes of your time. This week, people have asked me on more than one occasion if I’d vote for Oprah for president. Her speech inspires!
YES, we want and need women to raise their voices, to share their experiences, to make clear their needs.
YES, #metoo has been powerful and we want our culture to shift so that sexual assault becomes a thing of the past.
YES…AND there’s more to this issue than what’s going on for women. Gender equality is not quite the same thing as feminism.
Whenever there’s a power struggle, we can become myopic, focused only on our side. That’s true at work and it’s true with our kids! When you find yourself locked in battle, what will serve most is to be able to listen to all the stakeholders and articulate their priorities.
Take the YES AND stance. YES, I hear and believe your truth, AND here is my truth.
YES, women want and need to be listened to, to be understood by men. AND, men need to be listened to as well, to be understood by women. AND those who don’t fall into the gender binary need our listening and support too.
I recently watched The Red Pill, a 2016 documentary by Cassie Jaye, which has both passionate fans and damning critics. (Amazon Prime members, you can stream it here for free.) Personally, I found it to be fascinating and inspiring. The message, as I see it, is that women have been pigeon holed and need support to break free and achieve equality, YES. AND, there are ways in which men suffer which women are mostly blind to, because we’re understandably focused on our own revolution.
Since we can really only change ourselves, I’m asking myself what can shift inside me, in how I treat men and women, to bring about the equality I envision. Watching the film revealed to me some of my biases.
Jackson Katz says in his TED talk, Violence Against Women, It’s A Men’s Issue, “Why do so many men abuse physically, emotionally, verbally, and other ways, the women and girls, and the men and boys, that they claim to love? What’s going on with men?” Excellent question.
As we contemplate how to raise the next generation of men to be empathetic, emotionally whole, and non-violent, telling the stories of women’s experiences will be important, YES. AND, we’ll need to take care that we’re sympathetic to our son’s experiences of being male and emotional, male and poor, male and weak. As we ask them to invest heavily in parenting, to be more present and active fathers, let’s consider whether they’ll lose everything they’ve invested if their relationship with the mother ends. As we ask them to become more vulnerable, let’s acknowledge the ways we disregard and treat men as disposable.
My fear is that our sons will inherit a male guilt, akin to white guilt, which will contribute to the divide rather than bringing us together. If, instead, our foundation is to really see each other, to become aware and accepting of all of our strengths and vulnerabilities, that is when I believe we’ll achieve true gender equality.
What do you see happening in your family? What do you want for your sons, and how do you think we can truly achieve it?
In support of Oprah’s vision, and gender equality across the board,
Hi Anya, Thanks for sharing the Oprah video and your thoughts above. I very much agree that how we walk this path is important, especially the messages we give our sons. I haven’t begun exploring this in my own family, but I’m certainly thinking about it, and I appreciate your contributions!
Hi Anya, I really appreciate your need to see humans being brought together instead of divided as I have that same need. And at the same time, I want to honor that guilt and shame (although difficult emotions) can be viewed as healthy feelings when we allow them to show us how to be more in alignment with justice and equality. We do live in a culture where white males have historically been and are currently at the top of the pyramid when it comes to the hierarchy of the work force and other institutional structures in this country. When shame can be embraced regarding the inequities, it can be a powerful force for change. I agree that we don’t want boys or men to get stuck in male guilt, we want them to work through those feelings so they can do better and ensure they are treating girls and women fairly and with respect.
I just want to add that I want to see men and boys working through feelings of shame and guilt so they can feel empowered to take responsibility in how they treat girls and women. There are so many wonderful examples of this in our society now and some excellent stories were shared in the documentary called “The Mask You Live In” – I highly recommend this documentary to any and all parents raising boys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErOHoTHBf7Q