The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution
Time and Place
On 6th February 2019, the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) hosted a panel discussion with Dr. Michael Kaufman about his book, The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution and men's role in promoting gender equality and women's rights in our workplaces, in public life, and in our homes.
Following opening remarks by Gwen K. Young, Director, Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and WPSP, the author Dr. Michael Kaufman presented his case for why now is the time for the gender equality revolution. Dr. Gary Barker, President and CEO of Promundo, joined Dr. Kaufman for a panel conversation, moderated by Ms. Young. The panelists discussed topics such as how to change the structure around men to foster equality, policy recommendations, the impact of the #MeToo movement, and listening and learning with respect. The panelists also answered audience questions.
Dr. Michael Kaufman
Author, The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution
"This is an incredible moment, and it’s a difficult moment too. I think we have to recognize that. You don’t overthrow 8 or 10,000 years of social history, of social relationships, of structures, of ideas, you don’t do that without feeling a bit uncomfortable.”
"The implications of [the expectations of masculinity] are not just how I relate to you or how I behave, but how men construct societies of men’s power; how these gender politics, gender ideals, gender insecurities, get articulated at the level of national and international discourse and policy and how they filter through our society as a whole.”
"Men live incredibly isolated lives. This is a bizarre truth, we’ve created fraternities, Congresses, sports leagues of men being together. But what those things actually do is they provide a framework so men feel safe, they actually aren’t safe, but they feel safe within these structures of men’s power. And men feel, I think all of us at some level, live in real fear and terror, there’s true isolation in the lives of men. Now this does not mean that men are the biggest victims of patriarchy. But it means in the paradoxical way, men pay a price for the ways we’ve constructed the societies of men’s power. And so what it means… is we reach out to men with compassion. Compassion doesn’t mean you give excuses for violence or abuse, but it is about reaching out to human beings and understanding the humanity in other people.”
Dr. Gary Barker
President and CEO of Promundo
"We know that there’s a lot of anger to question manhood, and even the use of the term ‘toxic masculinity,’ the number of men who get defensive about it… about half of women and about half of men when asked said that men get criticized if they speak out for women’s equality. So both men and women acknowledge that men who stand up for this often take heat. Then the other extreme is that a few men speak out and they get knighted for just saying what is obvious about gender equality…how do we make the space safer in the middle for men to be doing the right thing?”
“Most men, when you say toxic masculinity, they read at the bottom ‘all men are bad’, so I think one very simple thing we’ve got to work on is how to have a conversation that calls men into this. We’ve been using the conversation about the ‘man box’, or finding common ground that says these set of ideas about manhood cause us all harm.”
“It’s how to find that delicate balance of calling some men out a lot of the time, but pulling all men in for this bigger conversation."