This past Saturday, the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes march took place on Ohio University’s campus, with over 140 men marching. The demographic of men that marched was unique this year as compared to past marches, in that it took place during the “Dads Weekend” that the campus hosts. While the march has not always corresponded with Dads Weekend, I believe that it should in the future. There were many dads who marched in solidarity with their sons. To observe this type of interaction between a father and son was pretty amazing, and I only wish that my own father had been here with me. Apart from father/son duos there was also a great number or ROTC men, fraternity men, and men not affiliated with a specific group but wanted to share their support nonetheless. While the purpose of WAM is to bring awareness to the type of harassment women on out campus face as a result of the rape culture that is sustained, WAM also demonstrates one of the many ways in which men can be allies to women. A major first step that men need to take before they can become an ally to women is to recognize the types of privilege that men have in our society. This could include recognizing that men almost always have the first and last word in any decision, discussion, or interaction on this campus. As a solution, or at least recognition of this privilege, men can sit quietly and listen to other groups speak and hear what they have to say.
Another way in which men can become allies it by participating in Women’s Center events, taking a WGSS intro class or Feminist Theory course, or even sitting down with the women of their families and asking them what types of issues they face in our society on a daily basis. While this last step may seem like an obvious conversation that should already be occurring, in reality women are not often asked about their experiences and therefore a culture of silence is created that perpetuates sexist behaviors and attitudes towards women. I invite all men to attend a Women’s Center brown bag lunch discussion, which are held on Thursdays at noon, or one of the Women’s Center film and discussion events, which are typically held on Wednesday afternoons at 4:00pm. While this may seem uncomfortable for men who are first time visitors to the WC, it is a crucial first stage in becoming an ally to women to step outside one’s comfort zone (i.e. privilege) and to take the initiative to learn about what is really happening on the bricks of Court Street and around the country.
Women’s Center Student Employee and ally