In 2017, Time selected the Silence Breakers as the Person of the Year. I, like many of us, applauded this decision and was excited to see this topic and these brave women get the much needed attention they deserve. In the recent months, there seems to be a tidal wave of revelations about the horrible ways that men have treated women in entertainment, politics and pretty much any professional or public environment where men and women co exist. It has been heart breaking to observe how many of my sisters, aunties and female relatives took to social media with their own personal stories of #MeToo.
Watching all of this unfurl, as a male, was difficult for me. But it was not nearly as difficult to observe as it has been for the countless number of women for too long have suffered in silence. This movement made me feel like crap for being a male. It made me feel like I was part of the problem. I saw some guys on my social media timelines saying things like “not all guys are like that”….and while I can appreciate what those guys are trying to say, they are misguided in their comments.
It’s not enough for us as men to say “not all guys” behave in this way – we have to be the solution. We have to be those good guys that actually respect women. We have to be those guys that correct our brothers and colleagues when they start mansplaining. We have to refuse to be a part of prestigious invitations when the entire panel is made of men only. Earlier in 2017, I had a powerful conversation on social media about MANELS (panels that exclude women) and I am committed to not participating on all men panels any longer moving forward. We have to counter bro/rape culture and NOT objectify women to demonstrate our “manliness” to our peers. A real man takes care of women. A real man takes care of children. Real men are allies to women all the time, not just when the world is watching. We have a lot of work to do so we can raise our next generations of sons in such a way that they hold women in a higher regard, no person, man, woman or child, deserves to be disrespected and then disbelieved. We need to raise our girls to be fierce.
What else needs to be done? What do you think men can do to better support our sisters? How can we make our families and communities stronger by lifting women up? To me, the answer comes when men take their place as helpers – with humility, honesty and kindness.