Eugene Hung is proud to be a feminist.
This California math teacher says he began to think about what the world is like for girls when his daughter was born 14 years ago.
He began to think about how things were for his female colleagues in college, who they didn’t feel safe walking home alone from the library.
“They had to deal with that [sensationn de inseguridad] and I do not. I realized how many privileges I have and how blind I was,” Hungung told the BBC.
“As a man in society, I took it for granted”
His awareness turned him into a women’s rights activist. Blog started Feminist Asian Dad (Asian Feminist Father) to advocate for female empowerment.
Hung blogs about a wide range of topics, from Mulan, a Disney animated film with a strong female lead, to the election of Kamala Harris – the first Asian-American woman to become US Vice President.
Many articles address issues of consent, harassment at work, and sexual violence. Hung firmly feels that men need to be part of those conversations.
“Men must realize that, at least in the US, almost 90% of cases of violence against women are perpetrated by men,” she says.
“Many times this is framed within the problems of women, but it comes from men, so where does the problem lie? Well, well, the problem lies with us. Why don’t we talk more about this?
Intentions vs. Actions
It recognizes that men’s attitudes have changed significantly over the span of a few generations. But glaring gender inequalities are still a part of everyday life.
Globally, women are paid a 23% less than a man for the same work, according to the United Nations.
Women spend more than twice as much time as men doing unpaid care and housework.
In more than 100 countries, women are prohibited from doing certain jobs.
“If these were simply women’s issues, they would have dealt with them a long time ago,” says Hung.
However, he notes that addressing those issues requires cooperation and men “are not really involved in discussing those issues.”
“Until we [los hombres] Let’s not talk to our families, friends, neighbors, communities and society in general, we are not going to make significant progress, ”says Hung.
So why aren’t men doing more?
The fear factor
“Men are socially programmed from an early age with this idea of distancing themselves as much as possible from what characterizes the behavior of women or girls,” explains Ludo Gabriele, a blogger who writes about masculinity and fatherhood.
“As a result, when faced with a situation of power in the workplace, the root belief is that you are a traitor of your own kind if you support a woman, “he told the BBC.
Gabriele is in charge of the branding of an initiative called MARC (Men who advocate for real change). Engage employed women and men to address sexism in the workplace.
In a 2020 study, the NGO Catalyst polled 1,500 men in Canada about sexism at work and found several explanations why many of them do nothing to stop it.
While 86% of those surveyed said they wanted to end sexist behavior when they saw it, only 31% felt confident that they could.
“Our research identified three key obstacles: ignorance, apathy and fear,” Alixandra Pollack, vice president of MARC, told the BBC.
Regarding the fear factor, he explained: “In particular the fear of being judged by other men, fear of losing status among other men, the fear of losing status in the workplace.
Gabriele added: “The fear component is the fear of not being able to be part of the men’s group, especially if the dominant culture of the organization is on the combative side.”
“But there is also the fear of not knowing where to start, because there are many men with good intentions who are afraid of making a mistake and being marginalized.”
Moment of clarity
To address those issues, MARC partners with companies like Chevron and Proter & Gamble to enroll employees in activities such as short or up to year-long workshops.
The teachings can cause some discomfort among those who feel “a little ignorant” at first, according to one participant who was reprimanded for using racist language.
“But then you get over the momentary embarrassment and it becomes a great learning experience,” said the participant.
One woman described a “shocking moment” when classmates attending the session were asked to walk across the room if they had ever experienced any type of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior from men.
“On both occasions, each of the women crossed the room. And that was an incredibly shocking moment that I doubt any man who attended the show will forget, ”the woman said.
“I think it was almost a shock to them that each of the women had experienced sexual harassment. I don’t think they can understand it deeply, but it is reality. “
“The elephant in the room”
Men like Hung and Gabriele want others to “recognize that we are part of the problem and that we must be part of the solution ”, as Gabriele wrote in one of her first blog entries titled“ Revealing myself as a feminist male and why you should do it too ”.
Gabriele started writing on her blog Woke Daddy (Papi conscious) two months after his daughter Sofía was born, in 2017. Three years before, he had given up a seemingly enviable corporate career as a company director.
He was 31 years old, a house, a wife and a son for whom he did not have enough time. He felt “miserable”, with a “deep sense of dissatisfaction.”
Later, Gabriele realized that her unhappiness was closely tied to having lived within what she calls a “Male box”.
He described it as a narrow definition of masculinity that includes feeling awkward with feelings, preferring career and status to authenticity, and being suspicious of the opposite sex.
Those are roles that many men are unhappy with today. As she writes on her Instagram account, “real men are feminists.”
A recent survey by the beauty supply company Dove and Promundo, an NGO advocating for healthy masculinity, found 85% of fathers in seven countries (Brazil, Argentina, USA, UK, Canada, Netherlands and Japan) said that they would do anything to be more involved in the physical care of your children.
However, a large proportion of them had not applied for leave after the birth or adoption of their children.
They blamed attitudes among colleagues and managers, which they said had made them feel unable to ask to leave.
“Give families more options”
Josh Levs, a global authority on business and gender equality, says that despite all the evidence to the contrary, managers still believe in “false stereotypes of men as lazy and distant.”
Levs is the author of the best-seller “All-In” and has been appointed by the UN as a Global Gender Advocate.
He told the BBC that bosses still believe that a man asking for paternity leave or flexible hours will “lie on the couch and watch sports on TV.”
“We have a system that forces women to stay at home and men to work,” she said.
To change that, says Levs, society has to rethinkI know its laws and policies – such as those affecting paternity leave and equal opportunities for men and women – in addition to the perceptions and stigma that come with traditional gender roles.
“Until we address that, we will not have equal opportunities in the workplace.”
He adds that this system is not only bad for people, it is also bad for business.
“Companies do better when they have the best people in the right jobs. Women are half of those people, so it’s likely that half the time a woman is the best person for a job. “
Levs adds that nations that have empowered their women “are doing better” by offering equal opportunities and addressing inequality.
“When we free families to make their own decisions about who will take care of [de los hijos] and who will go to work, companies do better, economies do better, nations do better and families do better ”.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.