10 March 2008

The Assumption of Shared Prejudice

One of the more frustrating challenges of being a male who supports, defends, and promotes feminism is the day-to-day problem of having to contend with other males who believe that you share their prejudiced perspectives about women. Because you are also a male, they believe that telling stories about women who have to take off their clothes for money to survive are entertaining and a way to bond, that calling women degrading names is acceptable, and other common acts of day-to-day misogyny can occur because it is believed to be a safe space to do so. These stories or acts can occur without prompting or come out after something one would not believe could prompt such a response. When they happen at the workplace it can contribute to a negative environment in which the women feel uncomfortable dealing with certain men, and the men--using the crude "bro's before ho's" mentality--band together in the belief that they must close ranks and support each other in the face of the overwhelming presence of women in the work place.
It is the responsibility of male feminists to do their part to overcome this challenge and not remain silent--we must break those closed ranks. When a male colleague gets off the phone after a frustrating conversation with a woman and calls her a "stupid bitch," we must confront that. When the guy sitting next to you starts to tell you a story about that time "his buddy" had a bachelor party or went to the local strip club, we must say that we are not interested and shut that discussion down. These acts by our colleagues are, as I said earlier, toxic to a work environment--indeed, they are sexual harrassment. In differentiating ourselves and demonstrating that we do not share the same prejudices about women as our colleagues, we can contribute to a more positive and healthy workplace and enhance our own relationships with the people around us.

38 comments:

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