Men speak up

It’s a common scene. A group of men gather together after work at a local bar and start to banter. The conversation turns to the looks of the female bartender and what she would be like in bed. Sexist jokes are made by your mate and everyone around you laughs. Except you. As a bystander, you feel uncomfortable with the comments your friend is making but you’re unsure how to intervene. 

Being silent can indirectly contribute to these social and cultural norms and behaviour. We need to look at how we interact and ask ourselves is this the best display of what it means to be a man? What kind of values am I buying into through my actions, words and behaviour (or lack of)? There are many ways that you can call out attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that contribute to inequality and violence against women. 

Here are some tips on what you can do and say (or you can print this out and stick it up at work). 

  • Be upfront about your concern. “That sounds sexist to me…” 
  • Personalise the situation. “What if that was your sister/partner/daughter/mother?” 
  • Remind the person that the woman in question has feelings and rights. “Just like your mum, she has the right to be treated with respect.”  
  • Use humour. If you have the words and knowhow this can help ease the situation while also stating your opinion. 
  • Question what the person means by their comment. “How was that funny? I don’t get it.”
  • Remind your friend of his best self. “I know you’re better than that.” 
  • Bring your friendship into it. “Hey James, as your friend I have to tell you that what you said/did isn’t cool…” 

Here are some examples of men calling out sexism and prejudice. 

  • I keep asking “why is that funny?” and “I don’t get it” when guys make sexist jokes. Embarrasses them as they explain it. 
  • The boy in the park today, who, when his friend started making sexist comments, told him to “shut up and stop being a dick.” 
  • My 18-year-old son walked out of work placement disgusted by degrading images of women. It meant to world to me.
  • Group of drunk lads shouted “Get yer tits out,” to a woman a few yards ahead of me so I lifted my t-shirt and showed them mine. 
  • My high school teacher took a class to explain the difference of sex and gender, the problems of binarism and stereotyping. 

And this little video really highlights the everyday differences that men vs women experience. From catching a taxi, to walking alone at night and catching public transport. 

Sexist ideas are interwoven in our social norms, from a very early age. It’s in the way we talk, act and socialise. It’s our job to roll back these ways of interacting and create a new tapestry based around respect. It can be difficult to challenge your peers or call out when you witness a woman being harassed. But it needs to be done.

Research was taken from abc life

Written by Celine Massa, Photo by Pressmaster from Pexels

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