Do you believe that gender equality is improving or getting worse? Statista reports 21 percent of Americans believe gender and ethnicity inequality will get worse in 2021. However, McKinsey reports there has been a bit of progress in many areas over the last five years, with women having more legal protections, women being in more leadership roles, and women seeing more political representation. “A bit” are operative words there, as the progress has just been inching along. Change at higher levels, like in our political and legal systems, always starts at the social level. First, it’s about changing an individual’s mind about gender inequality, then a small group, then larger groups, and hopefully the world. But every interaction we have with someone who hasn’t opened their eyes to gender inequality is a chance to make a change at the root of the cause. People have to be passionate about the problem before systems care about it.
There are a lot of people who want to be on the right side of things, but, admittedly, just don’t know how. Men can be particularly confused right now about where their place is in this all. What’s the difference between chivalry and misogyny? Where is the line between being protective and just being patronizing? It can get messy. But just to make some things clear, below is a list of ways men, unfortunately, can get gender equality very wrong. Fellas, take note.
Standing back when we’re threatened
If you’re ever out with a woman – date, friend, female coworker, etc. – and another man is rude or aggressive with her, don’t just step back and let her handle it on her own. Just because women don’t necessarily want their male companions to shout at our hit another man who is being rude, doesn’t mean we want them to just skulk away to a corner, leaving us all on our own. This isn’t about gender: it’s about decency. When women are out together, if one feels threatened by someone, her friends don’t cower away and make the threatened one handle it on her own. They have her back. They stay close so she feels safe.