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From Boys to Men: A Journey to Feminism

As a man, it’s always hard to write about women. It shouldn’t be; however, you risk the chance of not knowing what to say. More than likely you will say too much or not enough.

With that being the challenge, let me begin by saying men have heard the roar of an empowered sisterhood. I grew up in an unrepentant sexist world in the sixties and seventies. As a young man, I was influenced by the rights and privileges borne to me as a boy.

Let’s face it, as a boy you could be called “mannish,” and people would laugh at you, because it is expected that boys were little men with all their flaws. I could be loud and abrasive as a boy, and people would say, “Boys are just being boys.” But assertive girls were told to be more ladylike. Girls were taught that boys were to be aggressive and assertive and girls were to defer to boys — even if the girls came in first place. To be a girl, you were taught to defer to the boys.

As I transitioned from being a boy to man, not much changed. In the hiring of employees, young men were hired first over young women because employers feared lost production. It was believed that because women bore children, they would become a liability. As we both, young men and women climbed the corporate ladder, men were looked first for promotions. It was said that women couldn’t handle the stress due to their menstruation cycles. Yeah it’s true. That’s the word in the suites of corporate America as men had another drink. “Women just couldn’t measure up,” they said. That was the labor force I entered in 1980.

The evolution of man probably began with a woman telling a caveman not to play with fire. My true evolution as a man began with having four daughters. As I got older I wondered what type of workforce they would enter. My sensibilities changed not necessarily with the times but in my role as a father and protector. I could not protect them as I sent them into a world dominated by patriarchy. Would they enter a workforce where they would be valued by their intelligence and hard work? Would they be limited by being too intelligent for those men who were not as talented? Would their physical attractiveness make them unwilling targets of unwanted sexual advances? These are not the issues my son would ever encounter.

Women have come a long way since 1980. When I entered the workplace, there were some jobs in my industry women didn’t do. Now they run entire departments, divisions, and companies. My daughters have fought battles in which I won’t have to say “me too.” They have made it through the fire. However, it’s a new day and I wonder what fires my granddaughter will have to fight.

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