Should men be allowed at women’s marches?

Should men be allowed at women’s marches? Well obviously, they should.

But, if you’re like me, after the women’s march you committed an age-old atrocity: giving men more credit for doing the same (or even less) work as women.

Men who went to the Women’s March on Washington and elsewhere got a lot of credit, acclaim, and Facebook shares simply for being men at a women’s march. How hip, how cool, how modern ~male feminist~ of them to opt into something that supports women.
Eyeroll, eyeroll, eyeroll.  

Just as in anything else, women do not get as much credit as men for doing the exact same thing.

But before we go any further, we need to establish that this is not an attack on men who are allies or consider themselves “male feminists”. Allying yourself with protests and advocacy groups is difficult for anyone, even those with the most social power. If you are one of the male march attendees, thank you for your participation, passion, and gumption. Now, let’s take a closer look at your role.

Feminist scholars and marchers have asked: should men even be allowed at women’s movement protests and marches? What impacts do men have in women’s spaces? How do they orient themselves within movements? These are easy questions to ask if you’ve ever wondered what men give to or get out of feminism.

According to Kelsey Kretschmer and Kristin Barber (2016), there are answers to all three of these questions. Their research analyzed newspaper coverage of Take Back the Night and Slutwalk events, two recurrent feminist marches that protest sexual assault and sexual violence against women as well as victim blaming.

At a basic level, their research revealed that keeping men out creates more media attention for these events.

First, movement boundariesevent boundaries (or declarations of the in and out crowd) are as old as feminism, and have been used along lines of race, gender, sexuality, age, and ability. Kinda like the VIP section at a club, or eating with the popular kids in middle school; declaring in and out crowds creates power where power did not exist before. And, those who are declared ‘in’ are given power they might not have had previously. In everyday life, women are not part of this in-crowd. Giving them this social power is key to healthy protest and sustained marches.

But declaring women in sometimes means declaring men out. Take Back the Night (TBTN), for instance, has historically flipped the script of public protest by distinctly asking men to not participate because it would shift the center of focus away from women’s issues. However, this sharp event boundary almost always garners media attention, and allows organizers to highlight their core issues and demands. TBTN events that did not specify participant gender typically had less media coverage, if any at all.

Uninviting men can be better for the march in terms of media coverage, but also allows men to re-assert themselves as a group who inherently deserve to be permitted in the space.

By not including men in order to keep focus on women’s issues, organizers gave men a platform to have their opposition voiced. The focus cannot be shifted away from men.

Second,  Kretschmer and Barber conclude that (not including counter-protesters and non-participants) men orient themselves in three distinct ways in women’s marches:

Men as allies:
“I can’t believe this happens, and I am here because I want it to stop happening.”

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Men as victims:
“I can’t believe this happens to you. It happens to me too. We can work together to stop it.”

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Modern organizers of TBTN and Slutwalk have begun to shift focus away from violence against women, and toward male violence against all people because of these identities.

Men as co-opters:
“I can’t believe this happens! But it is important for me to be here to show that not all men…”
“I am here today because I think that men get a bad rap…”
“I’m not like other men…”
“Men also have it pretty tough…”

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Co-opting is bad for the co-opter and the co-opted because it unnecessarily and ineffectively disqualifies what is being protested, without actually solving anybody’s problem.

If you’re a man with a feminist plan (and we hope you are!), it may be time for you to evaluate your role in the movement if you have ever fallen into the trap of co-opting. If you find yourself in a space created by and for women, use your voice not to speak over the voices of said women but to instead help amplify theirs. While men’s issues absolutely deserve to be heard, consider the context in which you want to deliver these messages; there’s no reason men’s voices need to compete with or broadcast over top of women’s in a space designed for women.

Who run the world…girls?

By Bronwyn Neal

No one can sing it better than the queen herself, but do Beyonce’s catchy lyrics stand a chance when it comes to real-life scenarios?

I like to think that, as women, we stick by, stand up, and support one another in the male-dominated world that we live in. Whether women succeed by holding executive positions in fields where women are greatly underrepresented or by becoming the icons of pop, we like to say that women leaders have paved the way for future women to follow.

However, research shows this is not usually the case.71720534877071b1652946ab8af22a4c

In 1922, the first woman was appointed to the U.S. Senate, yet more than 90 years later women still only account for 17% of senators. Similarly, in 1972, the first woman was promoted to CEO of a Fortune 500 company; today, still only 24 (out of these 500 CEOs) are women.

So why are other women not following the trailblazers who have cracked the glass within male-dominated fields?

Researchers Kaiser and Spalding set out to answer this question. Ninety-five white female undergraduate students participated in an experiment they designed. Before their lab session, participants completed a test in order to determine how strongly they identified as a womanwe’ll just call it an identification test. The researchers then began their quest to discover why women, at times, help fellow women advance in male-dominated field, and at other times, favor men, therefore hurting the advancement of women.

The answer they came up with: it depends.

Researchers split the participants into two groups. Half of them were led to believe that they had been chosen to be a “lab manager” over two other competitors. More importantly, each “lab manager” received an oversized t-shirt to subtly emphasize that the manager position was meant for a man, and they were asked to sign a roster filled with 90% male names (to again make it apparent that they had been largely outnumbered by their male counterparts).

Each participant was asked to conduct a test that would help select an assistant manager, which involved giving away clues that could be helpful or unhelpful.

The other half acted as a control group and were given a scenario where they were not underrepresented and the role of “lab manager” was eliminated. Participants were asked to complete the same clue task under the notion that they were simply helping two other participants complete their next task, instead of trying to search for an assistant manager as the first group did.

But what did the researchers find?

They found that when women were underrepresented as “lab managers” and did not strongly identify as a women, female participants would most likely impede the advancement of women in that field. Likewise, women lab managers with strong identification did help women advance. When women were not underrepresented lab managers, however, their identification of being a woman had no bearing on whether or not she would favor a man or woman co-worker.

Why does this happen?

Women throughout history make it to the top but do not seem to bring women to follow in their footsteps. This may be because they are too busy focusing on their own careers (which systemic sexism makes much more difficult) to focus their attention on careers of other women or, like our participants in the study described above, many are simply not aware that their favoritism towards men impedes the advancement of women in the fields where women are not heavily represented.

Now that you have been made aware of one’s identification impeding or advancing women, will you help them run the world?
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Endless Cycle

By Erika Harrington

When it comes to wage gaps, and the success of professional women, it’s easy to play the blame game. “It’s hyper-masculinity in the business world that makes work a toxic environment for women.” “It’s that women choose to have children and stay home with the family.” “Men are threatened by strong women.” “Women’s hormones make them too emotional to make big decisions.”

Enough.

The fact of the matter is that no one’s to blame, and yet we’re all to blame. Confused? Read on.

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There are decades worth of elaborate research on the presence of (and lack thereof) women in professional executive positions. And with all this research comes a Frito-Lay’s Variety pack of conclusions on who’s at fault for the issue. Trying to get through this chaos of explanations and figure out what’s really going on would be a major headache. Lucky for us, Ellen Ernst Kossek, Rong Su, Lusi Wu bore the burden for us. They basically went through the many (and I mean many) studies that have been done on the topic and pulled out some themes so the rest of us can get the overview.

“However, simply because women spend more energy on their families than men, this doesn’t mean that women want to  spend more energy on their families than their job.”

They found that here are many different factors that keep women from executive suites and we can all do a little more to make sure representation improves in board rooms.

Factors that keep top leadership positions from being equal are things like individual decisions of women, organizational climates, and role expectations. While our culture expects more of  women when it comes to home responsibilities and family, women also tend to opt out of work to spend more time with children than men. However, simply because women spend more energy on their families than men, this doesn’t mean that women want to  spend more energy on their families than their job.

This is why the climate of organizations also contributes to gender inequalities. The research indicates that many employers and organizations don’t offer helpful work-life balance resources. Child care options that promote flexibility and better paid leave will help women to meet the professional goals that are important to them. It also crucial to remember that work-life balance isn’t a women’s issue, and describing it as one perpetuates stereotypes. The professional world needs to make sure work-life balance resources are offered to men and known about by men. This will promote a culture in which men share home responsibilities and are given the chance to spend the time with their families that they may have not been able to enjoy before.

Employers need to be more conscious of their practices that are making it difficult for women to thrive. This can be done using anonymous surveys, hiring an organizational change specialist, hosting a focus group, and more—anything that encourages employees to report what they’d actually need to succeed with their organization.

Organizations can also help be more inclusive by making the workplace an environment that supports female identities. Kossek, Su, and Wu found that research indicates women tend to choose fields that allow them to work with people instead of fields that force them to compete against people. Instead of these fields arguing that women should adapt to competitive natures of the job, they should be more open to potential benefits of collaboration in the field—because finding life-saving cures in the STEM field or growing a multi-million corporation doesn’t have to have a ‘Hunger Games’-esque climate.

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Employers also need to adjust what they define as commitment to work. Research again suggest that long hours and face-to-face work are valued over flexibility and telecommuting. But the latter allows employees to have better work-life balance and should be seen as just as hard working. To be fair, we could chalk this up to old assumptions about the way things “ought to be”—but these old assumptions can often be gendered. We all—men and women—need to recognize that we buy into these assumptions, we uphold stereotypes and create bias. Acknowledge it and fight any knee-jerk reactions to perpetuate it.

Okay, so that may have seemed like a long “brief” overview. I warned you that looking at the many causes of the lack of women at the top was going to be tough. But what isn’t tough is making the decision to address these problems. Taking the simple steps mentioned before can make all the difference.

Addressing all the factors of this issue can be messy but doing it is the only way to clean up the gender gap. We are all capable of taking at least minor steps to address bias in the boardroom, and it starts with you.

The Women’s March on Washington

By Rachel Garretson

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The Women’s March on Washington sent a potent message of hope for many who see fear and uncertainty in our future. Several of our InformHer team members attended the march in DC alongside our sisters and brothers across the country and the world. What they found was a powerful atmosphere of overwhelming inclusivity for all involved.

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Source: Slate

What made this march so successful that day? And how can we ensure lasting change?

Shiv Ganesh and Cynthia Stohl, from Massey University and UC Santa Barbara, respectively, can help us understand the answers to these questions. Ganesh and Stohl studied the Occupy Wall street movement by participating, observing and interviewing protesters who were a part of the Global Occupy movement in Wellington, New Zealand. The Occupy movement, in 2011, protested social and economic inequalities around the world.

Ganesh and Stohl concluded that the Occupy movement represented a new era of hybridity in protesting. They argue that there were many characteristics that marked the Occupy movement as a turning point, but we’ll just go over a two of them here and how we can use them to understand the Women’s March today.

Hybridity is the state of blending many separate and dissimilar elements into one new whole. This hybridity is demonstrated in both how the Women’s March was made popular and the inclusivity of its message.

Firstly, the planning and popularization of the march was certainly not limited to a single medium. Previously when researching the planning of a social movements like marches, we would try to determine a single source for the call to action, whether Facebook, email, or word of mouth. Ganesh and Stohl observed in 2011 that media and technology touched almost every aspect of our lives which made it almost impossible for them to pin down one source for the call to action. Five years later, it’s only harder. This message diversity is something that the organizers of the Women’s March used to the fullest by spreading the word through all different types of media.

A second way in which marches have hybridized is with their messages. Whether good or bad, today’s marches have a much broader messages than their more focused predecessors. Ganesh and Stohl showed us the beginning of this movement towards hybridity of message in the Occupy movement that incorporated local issues in the areas of individual marches into the larger message. This gave participants something concrete and personal to relate to instead of a vague ideal.

Likewise, the early planning of the Women’s March was criticized for focusing on white women’s concerns, but it grew to incorporate and bring together many causes. Part of that movement was to break down the ideals held by the originators of the march and diversify them to make them more personal to a wider variety of people.  Now the official statements express concerns of all minorities, including racial minorities, immigrants, the LGBTQ, and religious minorities. Critics might say that this unfocused message weakens the March and makes it unlikely that they will be able to accomplish any one objective. Supporters might say that this has transformed the March into a movement that will promote unity, and that feminism should really be intersectional after all.

There are points to both of these arguments, as well as the argument that this march was just a social flare up, an angry reaction to the election, and that it will fizzle out.

It is to easy to pat ourselves on the back and move on with our lives. But how do we keep up the momentum? Well, there are many ways.

For example, the Women’s March on Washington website is still providing leadership with their new campaign, “10 actions in 100 days.” The first two actions are already up and running and you can sign up to be emailed as they come out with the rest. But this should be just one string of your bow. As we’ve learned, hybridity is key when you want your message to be heard.

Donating and volunteering for causes close to your heart will also make a difference, as many are predicting that nonprofits will struggle in the next few years. All of us have many causes to be passionate about, and Ganesh and Stohl seem to be saying this is a good thing. It reflects our diversity of interests and our willingness to support causes that don’t directly affect us.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, is that we have to stay informed and aware of the world around us. As Alicia Key’s said in her speech at the DC march, “Our potential is unlimited. We rise.”