Feminism is about fighting for more equality between men and women, in every aspect of our lives. That means more women in powerful positions in the political sphere and in companies, but that also means more men to look after children for instance. The first aspect is often more emphasized so that men don’t feel that they need to be involved in the feminists fights. This segregation often leads to misunderstanding and fear that women simply want to get rid of men.
That is not true.
We need men more than ever in that fight. Men are essential because if we want to be equal partners, we need them to feel involved, and they should play a big part of it. Without their help, we will never make it.
I was reading the other day that some men are now refusing to speak at conferences if there was no women in the panel. That is huge. I mean, men could go on as business as usual and just assume that organisers are just picking the “best” speakers, and that if women are not there, that simply means that they were not as good as the speakers picked in the end. Some claim that is just a question of meritocracy.
Let me tell why it has nothing to do with meritocracy. For once, it is frankly amazing that girls are doing better at schools, that half or often more of the graduates are female, and then they just disappear when it comes to roles with high responsibilities or just public figures like for speakers at conferences. They are simply still around, but for some reason they are not asked, or they don’t dare to speak publicly. Because it is commonly assumed that men talk. Women remain in the back doing all the work because it’s how things work. My second point is that it is natural to tend to reach people like you. Diversity is a notion that goes against your habits and your comfort zone. So if men were running the conferences for so long, it is difficult for them top break this habit and bring women in, as a novelty. Those one will be scrutinized and judged harshly sometimes, it can be difficult.
So breaking this circle of habit when (often white) men are in charge is a tricky one, but a challenge that won’t be overcome if those men are not on board. The problem has to be pointed out and understood, that is the first step. Then some men have to speak up and refuse to join if the panel is exclusively male. The the board will start to think and bring more women in. They are here somewhere, I assure you!
This effort can be made in every sector of society when male or female are underrepresented. The media for instance have to make a point to look for more female interviewees if they notice that they tend to interview more men in their papers or on tv. Why? Simply because the media are a reflection of our society, and women are half of it. If men are more in charge, we have to find the women who are specialised in one filed or another, but once again, they are out there somewhere. It is proven that women are more likely to jump on an opportunity to speak or to give an interview. Because it was for long not socially acceptable for women to stand out. This is no longer the case, or it should not anyway.
Women need to speak up and be everywhere in the media because then other women won’t be afraid to speak up when they have the opportunity. Soon enough it will become normal to have either a man or a woman to answer our questions or to be in charge for any problem to face. That is a future I seek for. When women stop hiding because of fear to upset men, and where men are not scared to leave their seat for women sometimes.