At The Lives of Men, we talk to a lot of men about the importance of caring for themselves holistically—mind, body and spirit. As part of that self-examination, we’re trying to grow from and shift the destructive paradigms of the sexism, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and rape culture that negatively impact men and women while making women in particular seem less than equal.
In light of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, it is especially important to understand how these practices show up in both our personal and professional lives. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you remain vigilant and learn to do better while holding your friends and colleagues accountable.
The Weight of Patriarchy: Stay Clear of the Old Boys Network
Patriarchy is loosely defined as a sociopolitical and cultural system that values masculinity over femininity. Unfortunately, we live in a world dominated by men, and we continue to see examples of the negative impacts of that.
As we saw recently in the Judge Brett Kavanaugh debacle, the bro network runs deep and can be a seductively powerful draw for those of us who feel that belonging is the best way to climb the corporate ladder. And when you see a true bro like Judge Kavanaugh do what he allegedly (and we would argue, believably) did to Dr. Christine Ford Blasey … well, for some it can be a signal that you can be the prototypical bro, walk all over people, and get away with it.
Don’t Fall for the Hype—We Are Better Than That
Many of us are leaders and must use our positions of privilege to make sure our work teams and environment reflects the world we live in. We also should work to steer clear of too many “men only” enclaves in the workplace. We have a responsibility to call out instances of toxic behavior, even if it means you might wind up outside of the circle of trust. Your goals of getting to the corner office should not come before doing what is right.
Sexual Misconduct Comes in Many Forms
The Weinsteins and Lauers of the world make the headlines because they are the most recognizable offenders in the extravagant world of entertainment. But, in most offices and workplaces around the world, there are much more subtle, but no less damaging types of misconduct happening—from affairs with subordinates to too-long stares at colleagues’ fashionable office attire. It’s important that we recognize our privilege as men and be mindful of the ways we promote sexist culture. What we might consider “harmless locker room talk” can be offensive to someone else.
Engage in Difficult Conversations
We should all leverage the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements as opportunities to educate ourselves. Though we recognize that this opportunity comes at the expense of many victims, we believe that healing occurs in community. We serve a higher purpose when we take the opportunity to change learned behavior instead of pointing the finger and condemning the actions of a few.
Navigating the minefield of workplace behavior is difficult—now more than ever. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. As professional men of color, we have to take responsibility for the ways our biases show up and for taking corrective measures to prevent additional marginalization of women in the workplace.
If you need help finding resources to work on your own biases, or deal with the pressures of being a professional man of color, reach out to us at The Lives of Men at TheLivesOfMen.com or via social: @TheLivesOfMen. Our network is wide, and we’d love to add you to the family.
Jason Rosario is the founder and CEO of The Lives of Men.