Did you find the above pictures odd? That’s the unconscious gender-bias in us.
Mentally flip whoever we’re dealing with, with someone else to test ourselves against our gender-biases.
Watch this insightful talk as Kristen Pressner explores how we can recognize our own hidden, irrational biases — and keep them from limiting us.
What is unconscious gender-bias?
It’s a simple concept backed up by neuroscience: At any given moment, there is too much information for our brains to compute thoroughly. In order to manage it all, our brains take the liberty of looking for patterns of the most important bits on autopilot. In other words, our brains take shortcuts. Without these shortcuts we would have to really sit and think through way too much information all the time to be practical. Imagine if every single time, you had to think through how to open doors, how to shake hands or how to sing happy birthday. Although these shortcuts save us time and energy, they come with a downside: We see patterns based on our accumulative experiences unconsciously. This is why we all suffer from unconscious biases.
What does this have to do with Feminism?
Most of us in society, unconsciously assign these roles to men and women:
Translated to men taking charge, women taking care. This isn’t because you’re an evil misogynist. It’s because thousands of years of patriarchy has reinforced these ideas and made it part of our collective experiences (feeding the unconscious bias).
Q: SHARE ONE GENDER-BIAS YOU WOULD LIKE TO OVERCOME. HOW DO YOU PLAN ON DOING THAT?
How can we be not just good men but good humans? In a warm, personal talk, Justin Baldoni shares his effort to reconcile who he is with who the world tells him a man should be.
“I woke up after 30 years in a state of conflict. A conflict of who I felt like I was at my core and who the world tells me I should be as a man. I don’t want to fit into the current broken definition of masculinity. I don’t just want to be a good man. I want to be a good human.”
The scripts we have been given since birth:
“Girls are weak. Boys are strong. This is often subconsciously communicated to hundreds of millions of young boys and girls all around the world. This is wrong, this is toxic and it has to end.”
As men, we must not only embrace the qualities that we are told are feminine in ourselves but to be willing to stand up, to champion and learn from the women who embody them.
Watch this inspiring Ted talk by Justin Baldoni.
Masculinity is exhausting
“I have been pretending to be a man I’m not all my life.
Pretending to be:
Strong, when I’m weak.
Confident, when feeling insecure.
Tough, when I’m hurting.
I’m tired of performing: It’s exhausting trying to be man enough for everyone, all the time.”
As a Young Boy
“As a boy, all I wanted was to be accepted and liked by all the other boys. That acceptance meant that I had to acquire a disgusted view of the feminine. Since we’re told that feminine is the opposite of the masculine, I had to either reject embodying any of these qualities or face rejection myself. ”
Masculinity is not inherently toxic
“Not everything we have learned is toxic. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with you or me. We don’t have to stop being men. We need balance.”
Take an honest look at the scripts that have been passed down to us from generation to generation and the roles we choose to take on as men in our everyday lives.
“My first scripts came from my dad: Loving, kind, sensitive, nurturing; I resented him as a kid. I blamed him for making me soft. In the small town of Oregon, I grew up in, being soft meant being bullied. My dad wasn’t traditionally masculine. He didn’t teach me to use my hands, how to hunt or how to fight. He taught me what he knew: being a man is about sacrifice, taking care and providing for your family.”
Suffer in secret
“My grandfather, a state senator, worked as a janitor during nights and never told a soul. Why couldn’t he reach out to another man and ask for help? Why does my dad think to his day that he has to do it all on his own? Some men would rather die than tell another man they’re hurting. It’s not because we are all strong silent types. A lot of us men are good at making friends and talking: just not about anything real: work, sports, politics or women, we have no problems sharing our opinions. But when it comes to our insecurities, struggles or our fear of failure, we become paralyzed.”
Forcing himself to be vulnerable
“If there is something I’m experiencing shame around in my life, I practice diving straight into it. No matter how scary it is, because in doing so, I take away its power.”
Where are the Men?
“If I want to practice vulnerability, I have to build myself a system of accountability. My fan base has proved to be engaged and kind. 89% of them are women.”
A Challenge to Men
“I understand. Growing up we tend to challenge each other. We’ve got to be the toughest, the strongest, the bravest men we can be. For many of us, myself included, our identities are wrapped up in whether at the end of the day we feel like we’re man enough. But I’ve got a challenge for all the guys:
I challenge you to see if you can use the same qualities that you feel like makes you a man to go deeper into yourself. Your strength, your bravery, your toughness. Can we redefine what those mean and use them to explore our hearts?
Are you brave enough to be vulnerable? To reach out to another man when you need help? To dive head first into your shame?
Are you strong enough to be sensitive? To cry whether you are hurting or you’re happy, even if it makes you look weak?
Are you confident enough to listen to the women in your life? To hear their ideas and solutions, to hold their anguish and actually believe them, even if what they’re saying is against you?
Are you man enough to stand up to other men when you hear “locker room” talk when you hear stories of sexual harassment when you hear your boys talking about grabbing ass or getting her drunk? Will you actually stand up and do something so one day we don’t have to live in a world where a woman has to risk everything to come forward and say the words “Me too”?
As men, it’s time to see past our privilege and recognize that we are not just part of the problem. Fellas, we are the problem. The glass ceiling exists because we put it there. If we want to the part of the solution, then words are no longer enough.”
“On behalf of men all over the world, who feel similar to me, please forgive us for all the ways we have not relied on your strength. And now I would like to ask you formally to help us because we cannot do this alone. We are men. We are going to mess up… We need your help in celebrating our vulnerability and being patient with us as we make this very, very long journey from our heads to our hearts.”
Finally to parents
Instead of teaching our children to be brave boys or pretty girls, can we maybe just teach them how to be good humans?
Q: HOW CAN WE SUPPORT EACH OTHER IN MOVING TOWARDS HEALTHY MASCULINITY?
WRITE TO US BELOW.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS NOT A WOMAN’S ISSUE. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS A HUMAN ISSUE AND IT REQUIRES ALL OF US PARTICIPATING.
Having spent the past three years working intimately with male athletes, Alexis Jones is redefining “manhood” one locker room at a time. After growing up a Texas tomboy with four older brothers and working in “the lion’s den of dudes” at Fox Sports and ESPN, Alexis takes an inspiring, hysterical and at times inappropriate approach to empowering young men to better respect and protect the girls and women in their lives with her exclusive locker room curriculum, ProtectHer. (Viewer discretion advised.)
How young men are being programmed to think about, to talk about, and to treat women.
1- Be brave enough to author your own life, come up with your own definitions and think for yourself.
2- Violence against women is not a women’s issue. Violence against women is a human issue and it requires all of us participating. Alexis invites us to:
Become aware of our programming
Broaden our definition of manhood
Respect ourselves and others
3- Finally, she encourages us to have real talk with men we are inviting to join us. We have to give them real language and tools they can use in the moments we are asking them to be brave.
“Yo, I just want to make sure you’re cool with us having sex?”
Is a perfectly fine way of asking for consent.
Watch Alexis share her wisdom on how she has been recruiting men to be part of the solution, one locker room at a time.
Q: HOW SHOULD WE BEHAVE AS MEN WHEN WE BECOME PART OF THESE CONVERSATIONS?
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SUBMIT A STORY
SUBMIT A STORY
This is a no judgment zone.
Tell us about your own personal experience with toxic masculinity, inequality, consent or self-discovery.
Struggling to think of a story? Here are some suggestions to spark your creativity:
How did you become aware of systematic gender inequality?
What have you learned from self-reflection? What would you say to your old self?
Tell us about a time where you stood up to someone whose actions you believed were out of line. What was their response? How did you feel after?
Words and ideas can change the world: We want to hear yours.
What are the biggest challenges you have experienced? What did you learn?
What does masculinity mean to you? What does femininity mean to you?
What does the future of gender-equality look like?
How do we recruit other men to the movement for gender-equality?
What were your biggest resistance points to embracing feminism?
What propelled you to overcome each one?
NOMINATE A CHAMPION
NOMINATE A CHAMPION
Who inspires you?
Is there someone you know who exemplifies bearded feminist values? Someone who actively promotes gender equality and stands up to injustice. Tell us a bit about them and why they stand out to you. We would love to recognize them as a champion and listen to their perspective on how to move towards a better future.