#MobilizeWomen Recap: Why Gender Equality is Good for Women AND Men
#MobilizeWomen is a movement propelled by change makers in business to commit to taking action against gender inequality. Ellevate Network hosted these change makers in NYC on June 21st, 2017. This is a recap of part of the event, with the most relevant concepts you can use to take action in your everyday life. Download the Mobilize Women Action Guide here.
We don’t often think of feminism as the movement to unburden men; it is typically thought of as strictly a women’s issue or the priority of raising female rights and opportunities. But bell hooks describes feminism as, “the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys.” So, how can we support men in everyone’s battle to overcome patriarchy?
Wade Davis, former NFL player, diversity & inclusion consultant, speaker, and educator, spoke at the 2017 Ellevate Network #MobilizeWomen Summit, and pointed out that the fight to achieve true gender equality is beneficial for both men and women.
Wade recalled an event where a fellow male speaker addressed the audience and said, “Women, you all will run the world soon, but when you do, don’t forget that I was one of the good guys.” The speaker clearly missed the mark, believing that when women achieve gender equality, they’ll turn over the sword on men, and punish them.
“We as men often times don’t realize that when we’re up here screaming loudly for gender equality, we’re actually hoping that you turn that around on us and give us praise and call us good guys,” Wade said. He believes it’s this type of patriarchal thinking that is holding both men and women back from being advocates for feminism and, ultimately, reaching true gender equality.
According to Wade, the patriarchy is not only actively trying to destroy women, but men, as well. He talked about hearing men say “I get it, I have a daughter!” and added, “If we had a sister, a mother, a wife, none of that meant anything. It was when we had a daughter that we wanted to protect her.” What is the reason for this? Is it because men have been taught they must be the strong provider and protector of the family? Could it be that patriarchy is at fault for men being unable to show up as gentle, loving, kind, and compassionate?
Wade believes that emotional labor is the answer to ending patriarchy. He defines emotional labor as “having vulnerable, hard, compassionate, meaningful conversations with all people. It means sitting in spaces of shared intimacy with other men and talking about how we are lonely, how we are sad, how we are confused, how we want to divest in systems of patriarchy, but we don’t know how to.”
Emotional labor is the work that both men and women must practice so that together, we can all fight, change, and end patriarchy. Wade hopes that his unburdening of men from patriarchal norms will allow them the space to be woman's true partners — ones who no longer need praise for believing in feminism and for supporting women. It’s at this point that men can align themselves with a purpose for the sake of the purpose, not for the sake of praise.
Still, Wade knows that the work isn’t all up to the men. “Know that we’re trying, and that you all have to not be afraid when you see someone like myself actively fighting on your behalf,” he said. “But when you feel that twinge of patriarchy there — call us in.”
We must call on one another to do the emotional labor and to hold each other accountable in the fight to change and end patriarchy. Join a community that is committed to achieving gender equality or attend an upcoming event. Together, we can create a change.