“When it comes to gender equality, sexism, or balancing work and family life, many men quickly take flight,” Vincent-Immanuel Herr and Martin Speer wrote in DER SPIEGEL.

“Excuses and justifications for avoiding involvement in issues of sexism and its eradication among men are surprisingly consistent. In fact, we can discern a recurring pattern.”

▶ Excuse No. 0: “Women don’t deserve equality”
Not really an excuse, but an expression of consciously sexist views. “Studies suggest that one in three men in Germany holds a closed anti-feminist or sexist worldview.” However, “about two-thirds of men remain, where there is at least hope for understanding and support in combating sexism.” Even among “unconscious sexists,” the authors observe misunderstanding and ignorance, which they categorize into the following three subsumed categories.

▶ Excuse No. 1: “Women are already equal”
“Many men deny the existence of the problem. Often, reference is made to the Basic Law or the progress made in recent decades. Pay gaps, care gaps, pension gaps, and power gaps? Irrelevant.” Here, the authors see “the formidable force of male privilege, firmly convinced that ‘because I am not discriminated against, therefore no one else is discriminated against.’ Men vastly underestimate the impact of a societal and economic order that establishes them as the norm and standard in almost all respects.”

▶ Excuse No. 2: “That’s purely a women’s issue”
Avoiding involvement due to one’s own knowledge and experience deficits means delegating problem-solving to those who suffer from the problem: women (and queer individuals). And those who feel personally attacked by criticism of sexism misunderstand: if I, as a man, do not personally behave inappropriately, it does not mean “that I am not still – consciously or subconsciously – part of a patriarchal structure from which I benefit.” This misses the opportunity “to learn more about the topic as a male ally and contribute to change.”

▶ Excuse No. 3: “We have bigger problems to solve”
There always seems to be something more urgent, with gender equality often treated as a luxury issue, and women accused of exaggerating. But instead of engaging in whataboutism, it should be considered: promoting gender equality contributes to solving other problems, notably in the economy.

“The path for a man to become an active ally (…) begins with honest self-analysis. (…) Society will not achieve progress if men continue to deny, delegate, or downplay the issue.”


Published by herCAREER, 
Posted on LinkedIn on 12.03.2024