for men

A New Year’s Legacy Check for Men – by Terry Howard

Hey fellas, years from now with your legacy in mind, how do you think you’d respond to your granddaughter or niece who asks, “Grandpa, what did you do personally to make the world and workplace better for me and women in general?” Jot down your answer to this question along with a few New Year’s resolutions, ones that you can do, and put them aside for now. 

Go ahead, we’ll wait.

Let’s look at the challenges that lie ahead when it comes to fostering a more gender inclusive world. But in somewhat a departure from the norm, I’ve decided to talk to those on the seldom mentioned other side of the word gender…men!

So guys, here’s a list of questions for a deeper analysis and reflection. If you are a white male, man of color (Asian, Latino, African American) or gay male, answer these from your worldview or personal experiences:

  1. When you hear the word “gender,” which “gender” immediately enters your mind and why?
  2. What does it mean to be a “real man” today and what are the forces challenging that definition?
  3. What do men sacrifice trying to fit the “real man” paradigm and at what cost to both them and to women?
  4. If you found time to watch any of the recent impeachment hearings, what did you notice the most about expressions or containment of emotions by both men and women and what would have been the probable reactions had the roles been reversed?
  5. What do you consciously choose to say and not say to other men about news of sexual harassment, women equality, etc., when women aren’t around?
  6. Can you cite a few examples of gender-based hypocrisy? If not, why?
  7. What have you personally observed with respect to how white women experience the world versus how women of color experience the world?
  8. If you are a man raised in a culture that views men and women differently, what have you done to make sure that none of that gets in the way of treating women equally?
  9. When was the last time you called out other men who made biased comments about women, especially when women aren’t around?
  10. If you ever called out other men for making disparaging comments about women, what was the impact on your relationship with those men in the aftermath?
  11. What concerns, if any, do you have when traveling alone on business with a woman?
  12. How do you talk about sexual orientation when out with “the boys” who you assume are all straight?
  13. What unintended messages could you unconsciously send to developing young boys or men with your silence on female inequality?
  14. What thoughts race through your mind when you see expressions of affection by opposite sex couples in public versus same-sex expressions?
  15. In many large events – say for example stadiums – it’s not often to see equal numbers of men and women restrooms, yet long lines tend to accompany the latter. How would you explain that difference to an inquisitive young daughter?
  16. What is the likelihood of you being sexually harassed by a woman and how do you think you would probably respond?
  17. Current research suggests that unlike women who have more female friends, men tend to have fewer male friends. If these results match your observations, what could be the possible implications?
  18. What would you like to see more of, less of or altogether new in the relationships with the women you interact with?
  19. If you could change the world and workplace in any way so that your daughter, wife or sister would not encounter barriers based on their gender, what would you change? What stopping you from making those changes?
  20. How might women you know answer any or all the preceding questions? What’s stopping you from finding out?

Back to my original request as I bring this to a close:

Years from now, and with your legacy in mind, how would you want to respond to your granddaughter or niece who asks you, “Grandpa, what did you do personally to make the world and workplace better for me and women in general?” Retrieve your answer to this question (along with your New Year’s resolutions) at the outset and decide how you’d modify them after reading this piece.

Go ahead, we’ll wait!

Terry Howard

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and storyteller. He is also a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Shenandoah Valley Hit, BlackMarket.com, The Echo World, the Appreciate You Magazine, The Valley Trail and co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, and recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award.

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