Being An Advocate For Women
Right now – take a break with me and breath. Think back to the last song that you listened to. Who sang it – a man or a woman? What did they sing about?
Maybe it was “Run for Your Life” by the Beatles, where they sing:
“Well, I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won’t know where I am”
Maybe it was “UOENO” by Rick Ross and Future, where they sing:
“Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it
I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it”
Or maybe it was “I’m Still a Guy” by Brad Paisley:
“But when you say a backrub means only a backrub
Then you swat my hand when I try
Well, what can I say at the end of the day
Honey, I’m still a guy”
Scroll with me through your recent playlists – how many songs do you listen to that are sung by women?
What about the last book you read? Or the last movie that you watched? Who were the main characters – who was the love interest?
Who do you follow and retweet on Twitter – where do you get your news?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m don’t want to make you feel guilty or act like I’m operating on some higher moral plane than the rest of us. I’m asking you these questions because I struggle and challenge myself on each and every one of them.
You may find yourself like me – a proud feminist, passionate about ending sexism and violence against women, who maybe identifies as “one of the good guys.” And if you do – thank you. We need more people like you.
But just because we identify as feminist doesn’t mean that our work, our personal journey, is over. Each of us – born into a world that can encourage and ingrain sexism, objectification, victim-blaming, and more –have more to learn and more work to do.
We have more work to do in big moments — using our bystander intervention skills — but we also have more work to do in small moments too – whether it’s with a friend who made an inappropriate joke or just you, sitting quietly alone picking music.
Henry David Thoreau once said that we can “be one of the millions striking at the branches of evil or the one striking at the root.” We can’t eliminate the branches of sexism and misogyny – whether it’s harassment, sexual assault, or something else, until we strike at the root.
We must understand the root — the need to listen to women, believe them, and amplify their voices. We must understand that being an advocate for women doesn’t just mean being non-sexist—we must be anti-sexist. It means actively listening to women and amplifying their voices. It means understanding that yes, even us, “one of the good guys”, can perpetuate sexism. It means interrupting your friends during an inappropriate joke or story. And yes, it means purposefully seeking out new sources of music, movies, and television that was written by or “for” women – even if it isn’t in our routine.
-Don Black, Mentor Coordinator