Men As Allies Roundtable

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On Tuesday, March 28th, the Fellows came together with key male figures who are helping to improve the professional environment for women on and off the Bentley campus. The discussion led us to think about this mostly women-focused topic from a different perspective, and understand why men must play an important role in solving this issue. Fellows, please share something new you learned from this discussion, how you believe men can best make a difference for this cause, and any other key takeaways you’d like to address.

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7 thoughts on “Men As Allies Roundtable

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  1. I loved this roundtable, because it gave me a completely new perspective on the gender equality issue. Since the CWB fellowship is primarily women, it was a new experience to discuss the gender issue with both men and women. In addition, it proved to me that men really are interested in being our allies and I think that the Men as Allies club at Bentley, although pretty new, is making great progress towards proving that men do want to get involved, too!

    From today, I thought there were a lot of takeaways from the discussion. First, is the simple definition of an ally. An ally is someone who is simply compassionate to create more equitable environments while understanding their advantages. An ally has always been a word in my vocabulary, but putting this simple definition with it definitely makes it more relatable and understandable to me. Second, I think the “man box” activity was extremely eye-opening. I shared phrases I put in the box to describe what a man is characterized as in our society with a male in the room. I was expecting us to have different answers, simply because of our different in gender and perspectives. However, I was surprised to see we had almost all of the same phrases. The exercise really proved to me that society is creating this “male image” that is almost universally understood. Going forward, I think it is important to recognize this and become aware of these pressures we are putting on males in our society. Understanding these stereotypes and learning how to change them is our first step towards having more male allies, and therefore making progress on the gender equality issue.

    -Holly

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  2. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion on men as allies for women in the workplace this afternoon. It was refreshing to be in a safe space filled with not just women, but also like-minded men. An important and eye-opening thing I learned involved the reasons behind why everyone is not an ally. Thanks to Alex Hirs, the explanations were nicely summed up in three I words: ignorance, inertia, and (social) inhibition. While discovering these words did not produce an earth-shaking reaction, I was glad to have the time to reflect and succinctly recognize why some people refrain from taking action to help women.

    In order to push people toward becoming an ally rather than a passive spectator, I believe that knowledge and awareness about gender inequality need to be spread, and men are the best vehicles for sharing this information. Although we are striving for equal opportunities and treatment in general, it is clear that males currently have the upper hand. The key to balancing out the scale is to utilize men as advocates for women. It is really that simple. Have the (new and) old boys in the gentleman’s club start to challenge the social structures that have been in place for much too long, and from there more people will understand the need for change. They do not need to lead a women’s march, as jokingly mentioned in today’s discussion, but they should keep the dialogue about gender equality rolling, no matter their environment. With men as allies, the women of the modern world will truly have the chance to a shift toward equality.

    – Dana Zappone

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  3. Today’s round table revolved around the topics of “men as allies” and their significance! Based as a discussion, today’s session introduced the “Men as allies” topic, and answered questions such as what is an ally, what are the significance of allies, and why are allies needed. Seeing such an empowered and outspoken group of men in today’s round table was truly eye opening.

    Men as allies are such an important group because not only do they understand the reasons men perpetuate inequality, but allies work together with women in order to diminish this inequality by listening to women about our experience with these inequalities. Men as allies understand the privilege they have and attempt to use that advantage to work against oppression.

    Some interesting points I took away from today’s discussion was: A man is only an ally when a women says he is, a person must still be an ally when the oppressed person isn’t in the room. Both of these pieces of information, although short and to the point, speak volumes.

    Another important fact I was introduced to today was explained by our speaker Alex Hurst, who works at Bentley, stating that Toxic Masculinity is held up by two things: Misogyny and Homophobia. I never broke the social construct of masculinity down and thought of it this way but it truly makes so much sense and is a very monumental piece of information. I’m writing a research paper in another class about violence against women and how that is caused by masculinity. In all my research I haven’t seen the concept easily broken down, so thank you Alex Hurst!

    -Julia Mendes

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  4. This even has certainly been one that I have enjoyed a lot. It was a different event because we got to talk to people who have different views on the topic and this is sometimes the best way to learn. This event really made me think about the role other people and I play in society. It is great to know that men have become advocates for a cause that not only benefits women, but it also benefits themselves. It’s not that women need allies because we are too weak, we need them because sometimes men have voices in places women might not have a voice. However, I do understand the drawback some men can have by stepping up for a women in these environments, this is why I believe man also need allies. If women and men help each other simultaneously it would benefit society greatly. This roundtable gave me the opportunity to listen to other people’s opinions and learn from those and also ask questions myself. I have a big issue with confidence and bringing this up during the discussion and seeing all the different answers from both men and women really empowered me and I believe that was a clear representation of what it means to be allies. I believe there is still a lot of work to do, but being part of conversations like this one empowers me and will lead me to empower other people. This is only the beginning!

    -Monica Redondo Moro

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  5. I believe Men as Allies are very important, and found that after having a discussion with them, I am even more impressed by the impact they are making with this issue. It is very important for men to express their opinions of support for this issue because without them, women can only do so much. Something I found to be interesting during the discussion was the idea of there being a scale of allies, ranked 1-5, and anyone can fall anywhere on that scale and even change where they fall during different situations. It was interesting to me to see that someone who stands by and doesn’t say anything, ranked a 2, is actually hurting the movement. I think this is an important message to get across, especially to men, because many of them feel that by not actively participating in the problem, they are helping. But that is not the case, because as we’ve all been taught through bully bi-stander trainings and other similar activities that a person who doesn’t say anything is often just as to blame as the person doing the talking.

    Another key aspect of the discussion which I enjoyed was the activity called the Man Box. i think it was important for us all to share our views on what society deems a man should be, in order to break down those stereotypes and prove to each other that those attributes are not what we should be looking for and rewarding in men. The hyper masculinity that is very prevalent in today’s society is damaging to both men and women, so the sooner we all realize that needs to change, the better things will be for everyone.

    I just want to say thank you to all the Men as Allies members who participated in the discussion and also Alex Hurst for leading the thought provoking session!

    -Lauren Schmidt

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  6. This Men as Allies round table, facilitated by Alex Hirs, was very eye opening. The group had great discussion around the topics of how men can be allies to women. Everyone stayed engaged and was providing good insight about each of the discussion pieces. The way this was set up with four main questions that we would speak about provided good guidance. My personal favorite part was the Man in a Box activity. We all had to draw a box on a piece of paper and write inside the box some words used typically to describe men. Outside of the box we had to write some words or phrases that were used when describing a man who did not emulate or model directly after these attributes, characteristics, or personalities that had been written inside the box. This turned out to be very powerful even at first when we simply broke off into groups of two (one woman and one man). Seeing how similar the boxes were from my perspective and Jackie’s perspective was so interesting. Even as different genders we both wrote the same things and noticed how horrible these stereotypes were. It was reaffirmed when the entire group came together and we talked about how there is this idea of masculinity that puts all men in a box, and if you do not correspond with those then you are something other than a man.

    Other than that the rest of the round table helped to clear up some things for everyone. We were able to talk about and learn exactly what an ally is and what they can do. Being active is the one of the most important things we touched upon about allies and how just saying you are one does not make you one. We also learned more about genders and being gender conscious too all of them and not just female and male.

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  7. I thought this event was a great way to gain a new, unique perspective on different types of gender issues. It opened my eyes to the different ways that men are helping to further the equality of the sexes.

    Some new things that I learned from the discussion were the ways in which not only women benefit from having male allies, but how the men benefit from being allies as well. One example that we discussed was how encouraging women to be ambitious and to strive for higher positions also reduces the pressure for men to live up to the expectations of being the primary source of financial support for a family. This was interesting because I had not considered the pressure that men may experience to be the breadwinners of their families. I believe that by encouraging the advancement of women in the workplace, men and women will be closer to equality both professionally and in the home.

    I believe that men can best make a difference for this cause by creating discussion and standing up for women when women may not be able to advocate for themselves. In doing so, the conversation becomes more normalized, and the idea of gender equality is given more space to grow.

    – Lia Golick

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