The importance of men supporting women against gender inequality

Men have always dominated global society, disregarding and discrediting the women with the same or having exceeding capabilities as their male counterparts. While March celebrates Women’s History Month, women seem to remain to face the same issues of discrimination, objectification, and the silence of men. As a male, I have understood and observed my position of privilege in modern society with economic empowerment, top-level employment, having higher income, higher pensions, and the basis of public life being created by and for men. Young boys, especially those in high school, are taught and raised to patriarchal norms in being brave, courageous, tough, and these qualities of being a “real man.” I want to voice this issue and help others to break out of this mindset to unite as a society to fight for gender equality.

Oprah Winfrey’s Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, which can be seen in the video at the top, is incredibly moving, motivating, and remains prevalent today. As Oprah had beautifully stated in her speech, “She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. And for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up.” This ongoing battle for gender equality has been persistent with many recognizing that this issue is fought almost entirely by women, which is completely unacceptable and acknowledges the privilege we do have in society as a male. Men must focus on engaging in gender equality and to become a part of the solution rather than being a part of the issue.

Specifically, new data from the U.N. Women have found that 97% of women aged 18 to 24 have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces. Let that sink in and imagine the percentage if they had included all ages. This concept has been protested by some men claiming, “Not All Men,” that essentially claim that not all men behave like this, yet 97% of women are too close to being “all women” and should be prioritized moreover. Women must take precaution in walking to a location and in schools or workplaces with self-protection weapons, limiting themselves to certain areas and certain clothing. For example, the sexism behind dress coding in schools that have prevented certain attire for females, such as certain lengths of clothing, to prevent unwanted attention and the “distraction” of others. Society seems to have come to terms with understanding to protect females rather than educating the men. We must take responsibility and have a stance against this discriminatory behavior to provide equality to all members of society.

This begins from an early age, which the reality or rather unfiltered version of high school, without overlooking other public areas, such as workplaces, middle schools, and even elementary schools, is understanding the objectification of girls between these boys is disgusting, extremely disturbing, and goes unnoticed nonetheless as I have realized. According to the Washington Post, the Education Department found that reports of sexual violence at schools rose from about 9,600 in the 2015 to 2016 school year to nearly 15,000 in the 2017 to 2018 school year. We must spread awareness of this seemingly undiscussed issue and to educate others, especially teenage boys, to support and ensure a safer environment for all. 

What men can do to support women that can be applied to all ages:

  • Speak up! If you hear others speaking about women in a derogatory way, call them out for it and educate them
  • Never catcall or whistle women and rather keep that information to yourself, even if you believe it wouldn’t hurt her. This can be terrifying and degrading
  • Do not stare, even if a woman looks nice, make an effort to look away as you do not know if that would appear disrespectful or hurt her
  • Keep your distance
  • If a woman confides in you about sexual assault, listen, comfort, and encourage her to report it. She is not being “over dramatic.” These experiences can be terrifying and very real
  • If you see another person bothering or harassing a woman, do not assume she is fine and ask if she needs help
  • If a woman ignores or is not interested in a conversation, leave her alone and stop, do not be persistent
  • Educate yourself with books or following feminist pages to stay updated on gender related issues. Talk to woman to understand how you can better yourself

YouGov RealTime research finds that 61% of American women take regular steps to avoid being sexually assaulted. Since women have been consistently told to protect and take precaution in defending themselves from men, it is time for men to commit to ensuring safety and creating a more comfortable environment for women. We, as males, need to reevaluate ourselves to understand our positions of privilege and to take the necessary steps in providing a sense of equality to our female counterparts as it is necessary to develop or build our society all together.