Good Men Don’t Stay Silent.

There are two lessons to take from this short reel I ran across on Instagram:

First, there is the obvious lesson — "traditional" roles are NOT incompatible with feminism. They can co-exist just fine. Simple enough.

But there is a second lesson that female-presenting folx already know, and male-presenting folx still need to learn.{1}

It is not what women are doing that is good or bad. It is whether or not women have the same ability to choose and choices that are available to everyone else.

Not just "are they legally allowed to." That is the argument of either a coward afraid of women, or someone whose privilege has blinded them to reality.

The practical ability to choose means that they have the same educational opportunities. Not just "allowed to attend classes", but able to attend classes without fearing constant harassment. Without also having to bear the sole responsibility for figuring out childcare. Without already having a "to-do" list a mile long because their partners can’t or won’t do their share of maintenance household tasks or use weaponized incompetence. Without having to worry about being assaulted after a night class. Without having to be responsible for meal planning and preparation after a full shift at work. Without being called a "bitch" for the same thing their male counterparts are praised for. Hell, even without the "pink tax" that is regularly applied to female-coded products.

The same obstacles — and more — can be applied to careers, hobbies, volunteer work, serving in the military. You name it, those obstacles are there for women.

You don’t need a rule or test to effectively remove a woman’s choices when there are so many unneeded obstacles that effectively make it orders of magnitude more difficult than for someone who presents as a man. {2}

Yes, the legal and societal "permission" is important. But that "permission" is only the first and smallest obstacle to that real equality.

That’s the bad news.

However, I’m hoping that there are enough men out there who are now repulsed by those actions of other men, wondering if they might be one of the "baddies" themselves, or both.

And if that hope is even slightly right, then there is good news.

Because a lot of those obstacles that women face are things that you can do something about for the women in your life.

Go to the women in your life. Find out — without arguing — where they feel you’re falling short and passing the burden on to them. Use that list of obstacles above as inspiration. Then stop doing the bad stuff and start using your privilege to remove those obstacles. Where you have direct influence, take direct action (e.g. fixing the ways you’re falling short). Wherever you can, make it an unsafe space for bigots and sexists.

Need an example? A prior manager of mine {3} once told me that her objection to a plan in a meeting was discounted with the phrase "is it that time of the month for you?" Someone — anyone — in that meeting should have simply said, "Can you explain what you mean by that, Bob? Are you saying that a peer’s point of view does not count because … why? Are you keeping tabs on the menstrual cycles of your female peers, Bob? Because I’m pretty sure that violates our policies… and if you’re not, then you’re being pretty sexist, which also violates our HR policies."

Or, preferably, one could just say, "What the fuck is wrong with you, Bob?"

Because that is the world we want. Where women don’t hear the same sexist things all the time. Where sexism — and all forms of bigotry — are met with a reflexive "what the fuck is wrong with you," whether it’s at home, at a convention, in the locker room, webcomics, the board room, professional publications, or even the presidential campaign trail.{4}

C’mon, men. You can do this. You are not some coward who can’t take some critique. You are not some coward staying quiet when injustice is happening around you. That’s the irony, really, that the ones screaming about being "alphas" and calling others "betas" are the ones too damn scared to even look at their own behavior, too terrified to be better.

You’ve got to be one of the good guys, because there’s too damn many of the bad.

{1} From this point onward, I’m using "men" and "women" simply for space reasons; female- and male-presenting are what I mean. This is about gender roles and society, not chromosomes or genitals.
{2} Yes, this same situation also applies for race, ethnicity, manner of speech, disability, gender identity, and so on.
{3} Yes, that manager.
{4} It’s so frustrating that one sexual predator got impeached over a blow job, and another who was convicted of sexual assault won the Iowa primary yesterday.

Featured Image by 422737 from Pixabay