After the TBTN solidarity event, What Men Can Do – Taking Action to End Gender Based Violence with White Ribbon Campaign‘s Jeff Perera, I shared a walk and chat with a male-identified comrade. My friend asked me what my experience of TBTN was like (“I wish my first thought wasn’t ‘I hope I don’t get assaulted on the way…‘,” I confessed). I asked my friend what his experience of the solidarity event was like (“Your event definitely sounds like it was more fun, but I’m bummed I couldn’t be there because… gender,” he admitted.)
We shared our praise and critiques of our assorted, respective events. My friend felt alienated because the male allies’ event was physically separated from the main TBTN events. “On the one hand, I’m being asked to participate, but on the other, I’m being asked not to show up, or not go here or there, … Except for having conversations with others dudes about sexism, it seems like there are no ways I can really support my feminist values.”
“That is the only real way you can support your feminist values,” was more or less my response.
Basically, showing up to a rally, or holding a sign, or chanting in support… those things are not, in and of themselves, going to end sexism. Change is a slow, arduous process. Success is not often measurable by Number of People at the event, or Decibels Measured during the chant, or MRAs Enraged after the protest. Success… is not often measurable! One must have more faith in the innumerable small steps we are each taking. That faith is the only success most of us has.
In sum, keep having those conversations. Don’t start to count how many events you’ve shown up to, how many feminist friends you have, or how often you say “the right thing” to an approving beacon of feminist respect. Hold a workshop about practical ways to talk to people; Make a YouTube video about some shit you saw someone/a friend do (extra points if you can apply this video to a feminist perspective) that pissed you off; Tell your boys you love pub nights, but love your women friends and don’t wanna participate in things that’ll wind up oppressing them. These are the ways you can see equality become a success reality for everyone.