Our sons and daughters are counting on us.
When I was in my undergraduate years I took an intense course that still impacts me daily, 15 years later. It was called “Black Feminist Thought.” As a white male who thinks, I found the class to be challenging, engaging and ultimately liberating. One of the main takeaways for me was that if we want an equitable society that is a true meritocracy and democracy, then we have to examine the intersection of race, class and gender and listen to the voices of our fellow countrywomen that live complex identities in this space. I also learned that my journey to becoming a feminist and anti-racist partner started by examining my own identity within this context. Years later I still hold on to the truth that the work of transforming (unintended) systems of inequity into workplace cultures of opportunity and appreciation for each and every one of us is in the best interest of us personally, as well as being a sound business practice.
Dr. John Powell, a UC Berkley Department Chair and Executive Director of the Hass Institute has developed a term known as “Targeted Universalism.” Dr. Powell theorizes that since “structural inequity produces consistently different outcomes for different communities,” we must find adaptive strategies in “targeted universalism” that “respond with universal goals and targeted solutions.” I apply this hypothesis to my advocacy as a self- identified male feminist. For example, supporting equity in pay for my female colleagues certainly aims to bring justice to workplace compensation, and it contributes to a healthy dialogue about how we compensate and value all workers in our marketplace. In other words, if we lean in with diversity and inclusion strategies that benefit unintentionally targeted or marginalized groups, we create healthy recipes for greater workforce satisfaction for all by becoming better listeners, leaders from the head and the heart, and grow in our strength to manage and engage in difficult conversations.
Lastly, as many male feminists have so eloquently stated, this work gives men an opportunity to also redefine and expand the somewhat constricted social definition of what manhood is. This allows us to grow into better fathers, husbands, friends, community contributors and workers.This is important because while research validates that each new generation has increasingly progressive views when it comes to women’s rights and related issues like LGBTQ rights, many younger people also believe that we are post-gender (similar to those who feel we are now a post racial society). We need to continue the conversation and our advocacy around it because our sons and daughters are counting on us. Extract from a MARC blog, November 2014