In a recent social action started by a good friend and social activist I was asked to post a photo of myself stating, “I stand against rape in person and at the polls”. I gladly participated in this important statement. The action however, got me to thinking about how much more men in America can do to promote women’s rights and stand against our own privilege.
Standing for women’s rights means that as men we must confront our own privilege in our society. Each of us have benefited by the very fact that we were born male; from job interviews to car repairs we have an edge that allows us to not face barriers faced by women. Denouncing this privilege is more than an intellectual exercise it requires the denial of the benefits that privilege provide us.
Take, for example, the situation where a promotion is available at work. Often there are multiple candidates. Sometimes a woman steps forward who is the most qualified for the position. Yet, after the interviews it is a man that gets the job. The men who apply are asserting their privilege if they were aware that a more qualified female candidate was in the running and they still applied.
Even more insidious is the situation where those assignments at work that build experience and allow for high profile successes go to members of the “good old boy” club. These individuals are then promoted as “most qualified” based on their privileged access to the best assignments at work.
Today men who wish to promote equality for women have a challenging task, setting ego aside, denouncing their own privilege and supporting the talented and competent women they engage with; even when it may mean that their personal goals may be delayed. It is an important challenge that represents the path to true equality. This can not the legislated, laws can only go so far without causing more problems than they cure.
So my fellow men, let us be ever vigilant in confronting our own privilege, when we see an opportunity to reject our privilege let us do so. Our sisters deserve our support !