After this morning’s conversation with my 22-year-old daughter, we concluded more and more young men want to know how they can be active participants in the journey towards gender equality. They are just stumped in how to do this without reverting to, ‘Hey! I’m a nice guy! It’s not me!’
Here are some practical tips for men on how they can modify behaviours that contribute to gender inequality so that girls and women and those who identify as female feel safe and supported.
1. Be empathic. Imagine what it’s like for women to always be on the alert. (Provide examples of the measures women take to keep safe, i.e. walking with keys in hand, poised like a weapon, never exercising after dark in open spaces, checking the back seat when unlocking her car, etc.) For more ideas visit: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-women-have-to-do-to-be-careful_n_7072080
2. Never walk behind a woman. Cross to the other side of the street.
3. If a woman is walking alone at night, keep a safe distance so as not to alarm her, but if possible, observe until she is safe.
4. Call out other men when being disrespectful of women and/or telling sexist jokes.
5. Step up and assist women who are being verbally or physically harassed. Only if it is safe to do so, otherwise call the Police.
6. Participate equally with all domestic chores (including those traditionally associated with women) and child-rearing.
7. Model gender equality, consent, and respect in your own home and workplace.
8. Listen to women. Really listen and hear what it’s like for them. When women express they feel unsafe or not heard, listen with intent and ask how you can help.
9. Be vulnerable. Talk about your feelings and emotions. Two results: it is healthier for you, and the woman will feel she can talk to you about her own vulnerabilities and emotions.
10. Never talk over or interrupt a woman (or anyone for that matter) while she is speaking.
11. Don’t ‘mansplain’, e.g. explain something to a woman when she has a solid understanding of the subject.
12. Don’t ‘gaslight’ a woman, i.e. twist the conversation around so the woman seems at fault. Some examples; “You can’t be hungry, you just ate”, “You made me do this. You’re the one that made me angry”, “That didn’t happen, you’re just paranoid”.
13. Always ask for consent when coming inside a woman’s body boundary.
14. Only an enthusiastic ‘yes’, when sexually intimate, is actual consent. And remember consent can be withdrawn at any time.
15. Always check in with your partner and ask how they are feeling.
16. Never put a woman down. Be respectful of her voice and opinions.
17. Support women in their careers and life choices.
18. Refrain from commenting on a women’s appearance or body; even if you think it is a positive comment it could be interrupted negatively, e.g. ‘You look great. Have you lost weight?’ Which can be interrupted as ‘You were overweight to begin with.’
19. If a woman challenges you, don’t instantly be on the defensive. Understand she just wishes to be heard.
20. Remember, women make up more than half the world’s population. Women have spent many lifetimes (and continue to spend lifetimes) fighting a fight they should never need to fight in the first place! Women’s rights ARE human rights.
Download this list here and give it to the men in your life!
Do you have any other suggestions or ideas on how men can ‘step up’ for women?
Written by award-winning author, educator and advocate, Jayneen Sanders.
Originally published on Educate2Empower and is republished on Medium.
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