I’m slowly wading through the comments moderation queue, and this one from Jenny on the without-their-silence article stands out:
I read both articles. I then asked my husband to read both articles. He did. When he was finished, he asked, “What SPECIFICALLY should I be doing to help?” I didn’t have an answer. Neither article appeared to have an answer.
Is there an answer? If so, what is it?
An answer? No. Many answers, yes. A few from the top o’ me noggin:
Believe women. They tell you things that are hard for you to believe, sure. Shut up, though, m’kay? Listen. Absorb what they’re saying, and understand that the world is a very different and quite often hostile place to people who don’t identify as male. That’s the first, and most important one to start: don’t automatically dismiss our obsession with locking doors, and our (to you) excessive caution, and our endless stories about harassment and assault. You haven’t experienced what we have. Listen to our truth.
And do more:
- Familiarize yourself with everyday sexism.
- Did you realize you’re doing sexist things? Stop doing them.
- Stop using sexist epithets. Substitute non-gendered ones instead.
- Did you realize your buddies, coworkers, family, random jackasses are doing sexist things? Call ’em out. Doesn’t have to be a huge big deal: a simple, “Hey, that’s not cool, bro” often suffices.
- How ’bout some feminism 101, now.
- Hey, mebbe a little more.
- You’re at work, and the men in the meeting are talking over the women? Speak up! All it takes is a simple, “I believe Sally was trying to make a point” is usually sufficient to shut the over-talkers up.
- Did some jackass just claim credit for the idea Sally came up with? Point out it was Sally’s idea in the first place.
You’re doing great! Keep on keeping on:
- Brush up on Schroedinger’s Rapist. No, look, you know you’re not a rapist. That female stranger on the street has no fucking idea who or what you are, though, and she has to play it safe, so don’t take it personally, m’kay?
- Pay more attention to your phone, or the scenery, or some other dude than that woman or group of women on the bus or on the street or on the trail.
- Sure, you can say “Hi.” Make it short and casual, and don’t pursue conversation unless she does.
- If a woman asks you to leave her alone, do just that, cheerfully.
- See some jackass pressing his attentions on a woman who’s all but screaming “Leave me the fuck alone?” Distract him. Run interference. You don’t need to be all obvious and heroic. Just ask him the time and start chatting him up.
- Did you witness someone getting harassed? Stand with them against the harasser, and assure them you’ll be happy to be a witness, if it comes to a report. And follow the fuck through.
All right! You’ve come a long way. Give yourself a tasty reward. And then go further:
Are you in a position to influence diversity in your workplace? In your social circles? Do it.
Support women and minorities when they try to advance.
Don’t be lazy and stop at the usual suspects when you’re thinking of putting together a team at work, or a list of speakers for a conference. Seek out a balance of folks rather than letting it be all white males with only a token woman or PoC.
Insist that any panel you’re on or workgroup you’re in be genuinely diverse.
And don’t stop just because it’s hard.
I could go on. And on and on and on. But I’m going to turn it over to my readers, now, because they are wiser than I am, and will catch things I’ve missed, and have seen the world through different eyes. They can give you more ideas on what to do. I’m just going to end my piece with this:
Challenge yourself to be better.
And do at least one thing, every day, to make this world a better place.