Put Your Sword back in its place.

Put Your Sword back in its place.

Let’s get awkward instead.

 

Sexism and other forms of discrimination continue to plague our society, and many people are wondering what they can do to help.

This comes up a lot in my Bloke Coaching sessions with men.


One option that some people suggest is that men need to call out sexism when they see it. This seems logical and plenty of men promise to do this, but we know it’s harder than the rhetoric.

It requires courage. A lot of courage. And sets a high benchmark.

It’s ok to not have the courage. Plenty of us don’t.

Despite all the pledges and commitments we might make, when the pressure is on, most of us don’t step up to “Call it out!”

And that is ok.

But, what else can we do?

A recent coachee (a CEO) talked to me about the sexism being demonstrated by his company’s owners – three men – in some of their meetings together. He really wanted to start including his 2IC (a woman) but felt that it currently wasn’t a great environment for women.

How does he call this out? Does it help these men to change their behaviour? He wants to, but there is a lot on the line.

And so, like many men, every day, we choose to do nothing.

Which maintains the status quo.

There’s another option.

Awkwardness.

When we refuse to engage with sexist behaviour or comments, when a sexist joke falls flat, we shame the person telling the joke, or behaving that way, and send a covert signal that their behaviour is not welcome.

No one wants to be told a joke that isn’t funny. No one wants to behave in a way that gets strange looks or doesn’t evoke the reaction we are looking for.

When people make sexist jokes or comments, they are looking for attention and validation.

If they do not receive this attention or validation, they may begin to question whether their behaviour is appropriate or acceptable.

By refusing to engage with sexist behaviour, men can help shame the person and create a situation where the other person recognises (on their own) that their behaviour needs to change.

The more we do this, across a range of settings, men can help create an environment where such sexist behaviour is simply not tolerated in any situation.

There is no greater catalyst for a person to change their behaviour than feeling unwelcome, and our desire to be accepted.

It is important to note that this approach is not about avoiding difficult conversations that need to be had or shying away from addressing discrimination.

Rather, it is about choosing the most effective approach in each situation. A lot of behaviour we witness that needs to be addressed falls into a grey area. There are significant power imbalances present in many of these interactions.

In some cases, calling out sexism may be the best option, while in others, creating an awkward environment may be sufficient and a more comfortable solution for us to deploy.

We don’t have to take up a sword to win this battle.

International Women’s Day Join the discussion

International Women’s Day Join the discussion

Men, we need to be active and involved.

March 8th is International Women’s Day, in case you hadn’t noticed.

There is a plethora of female voices championing for equality, celebrating successes and inspiring more work to be achieved.

In case you are yet to realise, they aren’t just talking to themselves.

🔇 Being silent is not the answer.

✔️ We need to engage.

Let’s do more than simply show our support.

Let’s demonstrate that we are listening to female voices. We are recognising that we need to take action. We are taking action. We are trying to be the change.

Here are some suggestions:

💡 Go beyond ‘Liking’ a post. Instead, share in the comments why you liked the post; what you took away from the post; what you agree with; or where it has challenged your thinking. Or share the post with your network – this gives the author the opportunity to reach a larger audience.

💡 Share Examples of the work that you have been doing personally to #breakthebias. Be vulnerable. It’s not easy to retrain our biases – and we all have them. Share your experiences in order to inspire other men, and give the women in your network encouragement that we are listening, we are starting to understand, and we are trying to do better.

💡 @Mention women that have inspired you, developed you and challenged you to be better. Celebrate them and thank them. You can do this publicly in a post or privately through DM.

💡 Post about what your organisation is achieving towards gender equality, and what this progress means to you personally. Too often these posts only come from other genders.

As for actions to do outside of  social media platforms:

➡️ Ask questions, be curious, and listen. Every woman has a story to share. Literally, every woman.

➡️ Educate Yourself – listen to podcasts, ted talks, or read articles, and prompt a discussion. Google terms and issues that you don’t completely understand yet.

➡️ Talk to other men about IWD, and gender inequality. Chat about what you struggle with, what equality would mean – for all genders, and what you’ve observed about your own male privilege.

➡️ Contact me if you want to have a chat or would like some learning recommendations. I always reply, and as an executive coach, confidentiality is assured.

International Women’s Day is a day to profile women and the issues they face, but it shouldn’t be a day that men aren’t involved in.

Let’s demonstrate our desire to be part of the solution.

And MOST IMPORTANTLY, our commitment to keep that desire going all year!

Late to the Party

Late to the Party

I have a friend who is notorious for arriving late to gatherings.

Frequently 2-3 hours late. And if there’s acknowledgement and an apology, it’s usually quite superficial.

This frustrates me greatly, but I know calling him out about it only sours the gathering.

Noone enjoys themselves.

Instead, I choose to be thankful that he’s there.

There are obviously reasons why he arrives when he does, and so I choose not to judge and hope that one day he will sort out these reasons. Maybe even one day understand how it feels for the host who has put in the effort.

Men are arriving late to the gender equality conversation.

Some of us are showing up with a ‘champion’ status, expecting the people who are already there to be so appreciative that they have popped by, amongst other important things in our schedule.

Some of us have awkwardly arrived, and don’t know what to say, how to interact, not really clear on whether we should be here.

Some of us feel like we have arrived in a courtroom, awaiting trial. We are deciding how we are going to plead, and preparing our defence.

Some of us are still circling the neighbourhood, checking if we have the correct address.

Some of us have declined the invitation – perhaps opting to stay home as a mark of respect to those who are attending. “It’s not about me.”

For the people who have been in the conversation for a while, these newcomers are met with mixed emotions.

For some ‘hosts’, they have been regularly extending the invitation to the men, but perhaps weren’t prepared for when and, more crucially HOW, men would show up.

For some, the arrival of others has changed the vibe of the conversation, and where so much work has been put into ensuring this has been a safe space, now it doesn’t feel as safe.

For some, there is resentment there. And some are looking for the male attendees to make a mistake so that they can unleash the frustration that has been building.

It’s an awkward place to be for everyone. Everyone is feeling uncomfortable.

The truth is that we all need to feel uncomfortable in order to learn and to develop ourselves.

We are all going to say awkward things, feel a full spectrum of emotions, and behave in ways that we may regret afterwards.

But it’s a good thing that we are here.

It’s a good thing that we are arriving, however, and whenever that is.

The more time men spend in the conversation, the more opportunities we have to listen and understand, and the better we will get at participating.

For the other genders, this may require some more patience. Some of you have been in this conversation for a long time, and so your tolerance is wearing thin. I get it.

Let’s choose to see it as a positive that we are here.

Meanwhile, I’m sorry I’ve arrived late.

Are you showing up? How did you arrive? Or how are you planning to arrive?

Are you being equal with the Me Time?

Are you being equal with the Me Time?

Or is ‘ME’ time really short for ‘MEN’ time?

We have all heard the idioms:

– Fix your oxygen mask first, before helping others.

– You can’t pour from an empty glass.

– You need to have ‘me’ time in order to be your best self.

This is all true, however, a lot of men I talk with tend to be quite generous with the ‘me’ time they give themselves.

Perhaps overgenerous. And I wonder about their female partners, who are usually looking after the kids whilst this me time is enjoyed.

Some play sports or go bike riding. Some have regular nights out. Some frequent the gym. Some like to work on their cars, or in the garden. The list goes on.

None of this is bad.

Recently I was talking with a good friend who rides regularly. He has a young family – same as me – and I was lamenting about how I would love to join him for a ride or a run, but I was finding it so difficult to fit the time in.

He responded with something along the lines of “You just need to make the time. It makes you a better dad, husband etc.” And then he used the oxygen mask analogy.

The reality is though when he is out for a ride (often 2-3 hours each time), his wife is home with 3 young kids.

There is no equivalent ‘her’ time – at least not as visible or structured.

She has often joked that she should tally up the ride time and cash it in for a couple of months in Fiji. Whilst she jokes, I sense she may still really want to cash in a bit (or a lot) of the time she has earned.

And this is a common occurrence amongst the fathers within my network. Regular – perhaps excessive – ‘me’ time at the expense of their partners getting some time for themselves.

The large majority of these men are employed full-time, whilst their partners may work part-time hours, and almost all of these men out-earn their partners.

By contrast, I hear from women that their ‘me’ time often includes doing the grocery shopping alone – 30mins of child-free time at the shops is cherished.

Compare that to the ride every Saturday morning that goes for 2-3hours. Or the round of golf every Sunday. Or the regular Friday night out with mates.

Does bringing in more money, give the entitlement to more ‘me’-time?

Yes, fix your oxygen mask first, but make sure you aren’t taking all the oxygen.

True, you can’t pour from an empty glass, but that doesn’t mean your glass needs to overflow, whilst your partner is running on empty.

Being your best, whilst your partner is struggling, isn’t really you at your best.

Equality starts at home.

Whatever ‘me’ time you are taking, make sure that it is equal to the ‘me’ time that your partner is getting.

With research consistently showing that mothers take on the lion’s share of caring and household duties, it is worth taking a deeper look at where both of you are spending your time each week.

Maybe it’s time to do an audit.

Stop Focusing on Fixing Women

Stop Focusing on Fixing Women

When considering your organisation’s 2023 plans, perhaps ANOTHER Women in Leadership program is not the answer.

The solution to gender diversity problems is not to ‘fix women’ but rather to fix the flawed criteria and crooked systems that continue to impede many women’s access to power.

I find it incredible how organisations can run Women in Leadership programs for years and years, and have generation after generation of women leaders raise the same systemic issues (or in some instances worsening issues).

Yet, these organisations continue to think that the solution is another ‘Women in Leadership’ program.

If you want to consider a better way forward, perhaps consider who else needs to be developed.

Bloke Coaching is a program that helps everyone to understand male privilege, patriarchy and prejudice, and work proactively to address the barriers encountered by women and other genders which perpetuate inequalities.

Maybe it’s time to shake things up.

Mansplaining Flowchart by Kim Goodwin

Lesson 3 – What to do mid-mansplain

Always when explaining anything, look out for cues from the other person/people.

👉 High frequency (polite) nodding

👉 Noone is writing anything down; perhaps fiddling with their pen

👉 No further comments or questions; conversation has become a monologue

👉 Uncomfortable silence after you have finished speaking

👉 Pursed lips and ‘biting

👉 You are asking yourself questions and answering them

👉 someone has attempted to interject but you have continued to talk over the top of them

👉 Others avoid direct eye contact with you

👉 Others have begun to look at each other or stare at their notebooks or intensely at your slides.

👉 Others encourage the topic to be changed or attempt a redirect.

If one or more of the above are present, perhaps it’s time to pause and double-check if other people need you to continue.

Perhaps try one of the following:

🔉 “Just checking, do you need me to go into this further?”

🔉 “Just checking, how comfortable are you already with what I’m going into?”

🔉 “Just checking, who would like me to explain this?”

🔉 “Just checking, who else has something to add?”

🔉 “Just checking, do you need this level of detail from me?”

We can all unconsciously (or accidentally) become a mansplainer.

However it’s when we are mid-mansplain, and we choose to ignore the signals other people are sending us and continue our course of action, that we are wholly deserving of the labelling.

We can be better than that.

👇Use the comments to share other signs that would-be-mansplainers should look out for.