Earlier this year, a guy mansplained to me that "sexism is nothing more than a minor inconvenience." I hardly knew where to begin, so I addressed the wage gap, access to birth control, and rape culture. Despite the fact that he identifies as a Democrat, the mansplainer in question responded by sending me articles from Breitbart and The Blaze that "debunked" my arguments.
Although all the issues I listed above (and many more) are very real, the issue of how women keep ourselves safe on a daily basis is hardly a "minor inconvenience." None of my male friends walk home at night looking over their shoulder, holding their keys like a weapon, and pretending to talk on the phone. After a night out, they don't hug their friends and remind them to send them a text the minute they get home safely. They don't need to alter their daily routines, travel plans, or turn down jobs because they've heard one too many stories of a male boss being a creep.
For understandable reasons, I haven't spoken to this guy since. But at least one man has owned up to his blind privilege on Twitter and I hope that many more will follow suit. Today, New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo tweeted: "I am at the point where I seriously, sincerely wonder how all women don't regard all men as monsters to be constantly feared. the real world turns out to be a legit horror movie that I inhabited and knew nothing about."
Several women and men responded with frustration — after all, most of us do talk about the dangers of walking home alone at night or the times we've been harassed on the street.
Rather than becoming defensive, Manjoo admitted that he has heard these stories and he interpreted them incorrectly, adding that "I’m not going to defend my ignorance."
Although it's certainly frustrating that the recent avalanche of sexual misconduct revelations is what it took to wake up at least one man, it's never too late to change and become an ally. Writer Rachael King put it best: "It is a horror show. But now you know and can be an ally to both female and male victims who need support," she responded.
I agree with King — it's certainly our right to ask men questions about why it took this long for them to understand the incredible stress that everyday sexism creates. But once they own up to their privilege and exhibit a true desire to change and understand, it's a real benefit to bring male allies to the table. We're living in a teachable time, so let's seize the opportunity to educate the men who are willing to learn.
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