Last week, I wrote an article on how women should carry condoms in their purses – and it received a lot of backlash from various people, of which most were men.
The comments were mostly directed at me, the author of the article, and the rest, men were committed to calling women who practice carrying condoms whores. While at it, someone asked me why it is so important that we support women in their quests for equality. When you become an ally and a supporter of women, you do not only assist women in gaining a plus one, but it means you finally get to stand up for the oppressive ways in which women have gone through.
By leaning in as an ally at events important to your female colleagues, you’ll not only demonstrate overt support for women you work with but also be modelling full engagement with gender equity initiatives for other men. When women have a march of some sort, like the #SlutShameWalk, supporting them shows solidarity and a need to end patriarchy and societal norms that corner women into a box.
By being an ally, you are being at the forefront of a system that does not count women as important and rather sees them as not able to form and maintain leadership positions. It is, however, of paramount importance to note that when you do decide to show up for women, you need to show up with a genuine learning orientation. This means that if need be, you need to be educated on certain terms on women-related issues; ask but be willing to listen and unlearn. One also needs to make sure that, as a man, because of society’s perception, men are superior and thus, their presence commands attention. When you enter a space full of women, you need to respect the space because it is no longer about you but women. Engaging in these events will help you build better empathy and become better attuned to women’s challenges. If you are a man in any sort of leadership role, your presence and full engagement at women’s events are crucial.
Attend as many events as your schedule will allow. Sit near the front, stay the whole time, allocate resources to support them, and talk publicly about what you learn each time.
When you become an ally for women, it means you consciously and deliberately show up for women in the workplace and their spaces of confidence. Through this, you show support and eagerness to learn by participating in inclusion events and women’s initiatives.
• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specializes in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.