Sometimes, when people discover that I’m a guy working at a women’s rights organization, they take on the sort of expression and tone that one might if learning I have some sort of horrible disease.
I think I prefer the “what’s wrong with you” reaction to the alternative, which is often “why the hell are you doing THAT?”
Yes, I’m a guy, a 24 year-old grassroots lobbyist for women’s rights. I’m also straight, which I only mention because for some reason being gay makes it “ok” to be a guy working on women’s issues. [Note: This does not make sense to me.]
I’ve devoted my so-far-quite-brief professional career to advocating for gender equity, against gender discrimination, and for equality of opportunity. This doesn’t mean I’ve had a perfect relationship with every woman with whom I’ve crossed paths (I haven’t). It doesn’t mean I was a women’s studies major (nope!); it doesn’t mean I’m hypersensitive to politically correct gender terminology and it doesn’t mean I believe, broadly speaking, that women deserve more of anything than men do (I’m not; I don’t).
I don’t think there’s something wrong with me, other than empathy (which, admittedly, appears to be losing steam as a virtue). I don’t think my career choices warrant righteous feminist anger that there are dudes interested in fighting for gender equity too.
And yet I still often get the “what’s wrong with you” or a “why the hell?” responses, particularly from women my age (the exception being colleagues and coworkers, who generally “get it”).
Ready for some unsolicited advice? Try to see us guy women’s rights advocates as allies. Don’t think of us as usurpers, posers, or the terminally confused. And try, with your tone, expressions, and words, to make us feel welcome. We’re on your side.
This post was brought to you by Sam.