All my life, I have been surrounded by women. Since the day I was born, my mom, aunt, grandmothers, and sister have been taking care of me and giving their all for me. In kindergarten and primary school, I was pretty much the only boy in my group who loved to hang out with girls and proudly called them ‘friends’, despite the idea that boys belonged with boys and girls belonged with girls was instilled in all our minds. I am now a teenager, and I still have amazingly strong and beautiful female friends that are a part of me and for whom I would do anything for.
However, I have made a lot of mistakes too. Growing up, there have been situations where I made offensive comments about other women’s bodies or appearances, situations where I did not speak up as they were put down by their peers or adults, situations where I took them for granted. I was fortunate to keep growing and getting a wider perspective: I listened, I read, I investigated, I started caring more about those women I have every day by my side, and the millions and millions that I do not. But I still have a lot to learn. The truth is, as long as our society keeps treating women like it does, I will never be even close to really understanding the injustices and tragedies they face in the street, at work, and even in their own home. On a daily basis, they will be killed because of their gender, they will be criticised and looked at differently for not being “feminine” enough, they will be taught that their place is serving a man, and they will not be allowed to talk more than they should. And while we cannot change the world overnight, and the work ahead of us is huge, there are some day-to-day changes that can make the process of reaching equality easier and better.
As men, our role in feminist movements are not the leading ones. We have been protagonists for too long, and it is time to let women speak their own truths and amplify the voices of those who do not have one. Let’s acknowledge our privilege, let’s help out even in the smallest things, let them know we want to change too and we will not be part of oppression anymore. Let’s not expect praise and medals for doing the right thing. We need to call out our friends when they are being disrespectful. We need to not spread that girl’s nudes without her consent. Let’s et them fight for their rights without thinking everything revolves around us. Not every type of sexist behavior includes killing or abusing, sometimes it is seen in much subtler ways.
To every man reading this, I truly hope you can get something from this, but do not just stick with my words: start listening more and talking less. I know it worked for me.
Today, and for the rest of the month, the year, and our lives is the moment for us to take action for every woman, and that includes the poor, Black, Asian, Latina, Native, disabled, hairy, trans, queer, immigrant, plus-sized, different, unique ones.
Let today be a step of beginning or advance for each one of us, and let’s learn to listen a little more. Sometimes it can really surprise us how much we have left to learn and how much was kept hidden under the covers.
Featured image credit to Emily Pidgeon/TED. https://ideas.ted.com/feminism-is-more-than-a-noun-its-a-process/