Working through #MeToo as a co-gender Team – Shifting Culture in tricky waters

Working through #MeToo as a co-gender Team – Shifting Culture in tricky waters

This has been my week so far.

Yesterday I got an email from a guy who said he had been reading about me online all day and asking if I was married. That was Monday.

Tuesday I woke up to see Senator Sarah Hanson-Young being asked what she had said to Senator David Leyonhjelm before he insulted her in a political debate.

So here’s my professional and personal opinion about a way forward – take it or leave it.

The much disputed 90’s book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray PhD may actually have something simple to add to this complex discussion. I think it provides a framework in which we can better understand each other and do something about the abuses of power women are experiencing and the culture that allows this to continue.

I am totally stealing its central premise which goes like this;

Woman - “I need you to listen to me”

Man - “I want to fix it”

Let me give you an example. I was listening to a podcast called “Lovett or Leave It” (“Lock Him Up” 2nd December 2017) and in relation to the #MeToo developments Megan Gailey said;

“I don’t need to hear from men right now, we’re good.”

One of the male panel members continued to give his opinion.

“Give us thirty seconds...you can have an opinion about this guy being an a#?$%le, I just don’t want to hear it right now…maybe Tuesday” she continued.

He kept talking.

I was really struck by this. His instinct was to help – she wanted him to give women space and to listen.

I’m sure he had a point – but I just heard him not listening, not accepting the request for what she needed right now, not being there. He was listening to respond not listening to understand.

Woman - “I need you to listen to me”

Man - “I want to fix it”

The hardest thing about this is I think they are both right. Actually, I think they are both necessary. One without the other will not bring about the change we need. We must have both. Just not in the same place at the same time. That’s the truth as I see it. The balance of both genders is needed to get this done. As a Team.

Women need to be listened to and men need to fix it.

Let’s use the current Australian example. The issue is violence against women, the argument was that legalising the sale of personal tasers and pepper spray will keep women safe. It has played out a bit like this;

Male - “legalise tasers”

Female - “I don’t agree that this will help”

Male - “say I’m right to legalise tasers”

Men are trying to fix something and not listening to women who are the victims.

 

Trying to fix something just caused the imbalance of power and the culture that allows that to continue to be seen in its full ugly glory. And the debate rages and women aren’t safer.

 

For men to understand what needs changing they need to listen to women. Ask them about their experiences of men in the workplace, of authority in the workplace, of gender in the workplace. Spend some time learning about our lives and what we deal with daily in and out of work.

To do this you need to put down the instinct to fix it and put down the authority that comes with taking the “fix it” role.

 

If you can’t put aside your authority and listen to us, all you are doing is continuing to wield power over us.

 

When you understand what’s going on you can use that information to change your workplace. You now know what to look for. When you see it challenge it. Think of something your workplace can do to make women feel able to come forward. Speak up. Believe women. Create a conversation. Make the workplace safer. Use your authority appropriately to change things, use your authority to give women space.

Women need to be able to take authority in this, we are the experts, we have been living this for years. Give us space.

Then when you understand, help.

If you don’t know how to ask about the way gender plays out in the workplace try listening to this podcast by WBEZ Chicago’s This American Life;

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/647/ladonna

2018 Leadership Close Out

2018 Leadership Close Out

Growing Up Revolutionary

Growing Up Revolutionary