I’m a huge fan of the radio show “On Point” with Tom Ashbrook. I listen to the podcast all the time and I find it very informative. They explore a lot of issues facing America today and their guests are always insightful. Lately, the show has tackled a few different angles on the issues women face. I wrote another post about the episode they did on #MoreThanMean, which focused on online harassment of women. Other episodes have dealt with the wage gap. Yesterday, I listened to an archived episode with Gloria Steinem about her new documentary series “Woman”. The series focuses on stories of violence against women from across the globe.
One pattern I’ve noticed while listening to these interviews is that Tom Ashbrook seems continually shocked at the state of affairs for women today around the world. He seems completely bewildered by the fact that women are still treated so poorly. When I first heard this I thought it was kind of cute. I thought, “What a sweet guy! He’s so pro-women he doesn’t see how people could treat women these ways.” But as I listened to more women centered episodes and continued to hear this reaction from Mr. Ashbrook it started to rub me the wrong way. It began to seem like Tom Ashbrook was incredibly naive, almost blind to the plight of women.
I began to wonder how many men out there are bewildered when they hear about the struggles women face. How many men out there think, “It’s 2016 for God’s sake! There’s no way women are that bad off anymore!” Maybe they don’t see women being treated poorly in their own environments and they don’t treat women badly themselves, so they don’t think it’s an issue. How many men live in this kind of naivety? Maybe this is a one of the reasons it’s so hard to get men to take women seriously when they talk about feminism.
The only remedy to this kind of naivety is exposure. Men need to see how bad it is for women around the world. Women need to tell men about how their treatment negatively impacts their lives. Women need to tell men how even microaggressions hurt women and they need to stop. Men need to be told that the patterns of oppression everyone engages in daily build up to a toxic environment for women. Men also need to be told exactly how bad it is for some women. Though it may seem inappropriate or excessive to describe some of the violence that occurs, it may lead to a better understanding of the severity of the situation, which may make men take women more seriously. We need to address this naivety head on so that women can get the help they need.