A few days before International Women’s Day, this post is aimed just at men. Like you, I’m a man, and as a man, I have limited insight in what it means to be a woman. However, even as a man, I can see the severe inequality that exists in the world, and I recognise that all of us need to do more, to create a more equal world.
Having said that, the group in society who needs to do the most to create balance and equality is men, and that, quite obviously, is because it’s men doing most of the oppression, and causing most of the injustices.
There just is no escaping that fact. And don’t even dream of asking “but why is there no International Men’s day?”, as I will take great pleasure in pointing out your ignorance.
There’s a quote that’s not known enough, not repeated often enough, and certainly not understood by enough people, and it’s simply this:
We don’t know who first said it, which is a pity, but that doesn’t detract from the absolute validity of the sentiment.
For those men who may by now be frothing at the mouth, while reading this, it just means that you are not being punished. To use a simple example, if all your life you’ve been having 15 biscuits out of a packet of 20, leaving 5 biscuits for the woman nearest to you, then reducing the number of biscuits you receive down to 10, while increasing the number the woman receives to 10 only means being fair. If you choose to see that as you being punished, then your values are warped.
Women aren’t somehow less than men. We are all people, first and foremost, yet we’ve somehow built a society where women – by design – are valued less. Women have more limited career opportunities, and women are, overall, paid less for the same work than their male counterparts. Women are far, far more likely to victims of domestic abuse. Sexism is rampant in everyday life, and the proof of that is clear to see.
I appreciate all those points may seem distant to you. You may not believe all of them, and even if you did, surely the men are paid more because they work harder, and never take maternity leave, right? That, right there, is an example of rampant, everyday sexism, and if you actually had that thought run through your mind, even for a fleeting moment, then you have serious work to do to correct your attitude.
Answer this question honestly, to yourself: How many times have you laughed when one man in a group made a sexist joke? You know the kind of “jokes” I’m talking about – how she “wouldn’t listen” and others.
Would you laugh if someone told an openly racist joke? So why laugh at openly sexist jokes? Can you not see that by not objecting, you’re part of the problem?
Oh, spare me the “But I’m not sexist – I love my wife” or the “I’m not sexist – I have a daughter” crap, will you? This issue very much is black or white – either you oppose sexism, or you support it.
Do you watch football? If so, do you watch women’s football? If not, why not? Or what about women’s rugby? If you don’t, is it because “wimmin can’t play a man’s game”? Remember, we’re being honest here, so be honest about the real reasons you don’t watch women’s sport.
And mate, if you find the women somehow “too butch” for you, can I just say they’ll probably have zero interest in dating you. Besides, why would that matter? Do you stop watching football because Ronaldo’s too pretty for your tastes? Why is perceived masculinity (a concept that exists only in your head, by the way) such a deal-breaker to you, if not for inner sexism? Watching sport isn’t picking a date on Tinder, you know!
Most people who visit my blog are cyclists, and professional cycling is one of the last bastions of utter sexism. Calm yourself down for a minute or two, and get your blood pressure back under control, then I’ll explain further.
In professional road cycling, many “professional” riders need to have another job, just to be able to put food on the table. Don’t believe me? That’s because you know Froome, and in general, male riders don’t have second jobs – all they do is train and race. Now go and ask Marianne Vos about her experience. Go ask any woman who tries to race professionally about her experience.
Look at the big races, and their continued use of podium girls – pretty decorations to boost the manly male riders even further. Look at the lucrative contracts male pro cyclists get, then look at the pittances offered to women, and ask yourself why that is.
Oh, sure, prize money is determined by sponsorship, and sponsorship is determined by supporters, especially TV viewers, as the TV ads bring in the big money. As a result, it’s easy for you to fool yourself, with a shrug of the shoulders, into saying “That’s just how it is”.
Except, it is like that because of you and me! Because we, as men, don’t support women’s cycling in particular, and women’s sport overall. And if you’re about to tell me how much you enjoy women’s beach volleyball, the 2nd word of my 2-worded response to you will be “off”!
When women’s sport is on TV, watch it! If it’s not on TV, contact the networks and ask them why not. Get the viewer figures up. That depends on you.
Challenge any of your mates when they make sexist remarks, or sexist comments. If you don’t, you’re a silent accomplice, and as guilty as they are of sexism. You’re forever telling others to “be a man”, so now I’m saying to you that the time has come for you to be a man, and be brave enough to stand up for women.
Don’t give me any of that “not all men” bullshit, either. I don’t care if you personally have never hit a woman. Have you stood by, watching, while another man hit a woman, telling yourself “it’s a private matter”, as a cheap excuse to not intervene? Have you remained silent when a less able man was promoted, while a more competent woman was overlooked?
The world will only change if we all put in our individual efforts to make it change. You can either be a man, and be brave enough to openly admit that society is overtly sexist, and stand up for equality and women’s rights, or you can be a coward, hiding behind “But I’m not sexist” excuses, while turning a blind eye to the rampant sexism all around.
Which is it going to be? Are you man enough to fight for equality?