Attending an all-girls grade school will mess you up a little. You’ll think you can do anything you want as a girl. Leaders become leaders and followers become followers, gender notwithstanding. (It also meant that we swore like sailors, and a few of my classmates liked to chew tobacco. Go figure.)
I grew up thinking I could do anything guys could do and never put too much thought to women’s rights. I never took a gender studies class — it seemed weird to me at the time. I don’t recall any kind of women’s movement on campus (attending a big state school was actually an effort to integrate more with men!). I spent more time working at the mostly male-staffed college radio station, and eventually worked in a field, music journalism, dominated by dudes.
Did I ever think I couldn’t do it? Not once. I just did stuff because I was lucky enough to have the resources, family support and confidence to do it.
But did I ever feel like the uninvited girl at the party? Or not included in certain conversations, or given eye contact when people would talk about bands because, well, guys know about this stuff, girls really don’t.
Decades later, in hindsight, I realized that I was intentionally or unintentionally made to feel unwelcome at times. And that part of the responsibility was on my male counterparts to make this a world where I could participate; to challenge their own indifference.
I started thinking about this topic again last week at a Women’s Equality Party (full disclosure: I was invited to be on the host committee). I listened to former New York Times and Vanity Fair reporter Leslie Bennett talk about the pay inequities she experienced as a journalist, starting out in the ‘70s. Given today’s generation of women earn 77% of what men are paid, there’s still an equity gap.
The point she made, resoundingly, was that for women to achieve equal rights (on a host of topics), it requires the active engagement of guys.
But hey, wait a minute, look at all of the 26 women CEOs who head up Fortune 500 companies! How can you say there’s a problem?
“People see the tip of the iceberg,” said my husband Mark over coffee this morning. “But not what’s below the water. If you just go by the numbers, there are more women in this country than there are men, but what is the makeup of our institutions, our congress? There should be a 50/50 split in congress between men and women. It’s nowhere near that. Why? Maybe women aren’t qualified to be politicians? Maybe women aren’t interested? We know that’s not the case. We live in a society geared to men.”
My husband, the feminist.
And that’s the secret to the women’s equality movement. Men.
Which got the TueNight Crew thinking — what if we turned most of this issue over to Men, and let them speak about their daily relationships with women? How have gender relationships changed? What are forward-thinking Dads doing to be supportive and encouraging? (Side note: This video of a Dad encouraging his daughter to be confident will make you cry. “Why are you acting shy?”). Why should guys call themselves feminists?
We’re honored to have Leslie Bennetts herself writing for this issue as well as several brave men who share their stories with us. (Unlike Iceland, we can’t make this all about the mens.)
- Leslie Bennetts figures she’s out one million dollars.
- Brian Diedrick becomes a (junior) birth parent.
- Damon Young says Men should know better about street harassment.
- Richard Becker learns the art of gender ambiguity.
- Tom and Philip are in love with the same woman.
- Lauren Young tells us why Joe Keefe is a feminist at the top.
- Christopher Persely explains why women’s equality is essential to Dads.
- And Mac Premo gives props to the single mom who raised him.
Stuff We’re Clicking:
- The Women’s Equality Party 10-Point Plan.
- Anita Sarkeesian says the most revolutionary thing you can do for women is to believe them.
- Rachel Sklar is 41, single and pregnant. And it’s the new, 21st-century normal.
- Walking in New York — as a man.
(Photo: Andreas Gradin/Stocksy.com)