Men Supporting Gender Equity with Wade Davis

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On Thursday, March 30th the Bentley community was joined by former NFL player, Wade Davis. Davis spoke about gender identity, sexism, and his experience as a closeted professional athlete. Fellows, please give a key takeaway you had from this talk, and discuss why you think it’s important for public figures to use their platform to make a positive difference in this space.

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12 thoughts on “Men Supporting Gender Equity with Wade Davis

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  1. This was a great event. No, it was amazing – I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Wade speak. He uses his platform as an athlete to connect with professional players (among other audiences) to get a conversation started about diversity and inclusion. He reiterated that, during his presentations, people are able to ask questions that they always think about but are never able to vocalize. It is so important for individuals to see people they admire and/or relate to not only speaking out on certain issues, but acting on them. Wade discussed the importance of being an ally – which is a VERB – indicating that you can’t just claim to support others, you have to act on it. One concept he reiterated throughout the night was that we need to ‘own our shit.’ We need to accept that we are all human – meaning we are not perfect. We have been raised to think homosexuality is bad and that sexism/the patriarchy are an acceptable norm (etc.). Wade included himself in his critiques – he told us that he IS sexist, but he is educating himself by reading and trying to become a better ally to women. We all need to own the fact that we were raised with certain ideas and stereotypes, and that it is okay for us to admit it, as long as we take it upon ourselves to work to deconstruct them. One other topic that I want to mention is the importance of self love. Wade talked about how important it is to love yourself, and to spread love to others. But being confident and happy with yourself as a person is SO important, and while it may feel difficult at times, it is so necessary that we find a way to love the person we are. Wade reiterated his struggle with coming to terms with his sexuality, as he hid his true self in order to accomplish his goals as an athlete. Seeing him on stage with such a vibrant confidence and personality, having overcome this obstacle, was inspiring and just goes to show how important self love is.

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  2. I thought Wade Davis was awesome. I loved how real he was. Overall, what I am taking away from his presentation is his advice on loving yourself and making your own world. Although I have not faced the challenges Wade went through, loving yourself is something I can relate to. Loving yourself enough to live your life the way you want without fearing what others think is so important, and it makes for a happy and enjoyable life! I like to think that I already love myself, but I am going to work towards loving myself even more and really trying to make my own world.

    Overall, Wade’s presentation was really eye-opening, because personally I have never been to a presentation like that. Learning a little bit more about LGBTQ was something I needed to do, and this presentation gave me a little bit of that knowledge. Going forward, I will definitely read more about these issues, like Wade recommended.

    -Holly

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  3. Wade Davis’ talk was an engaging, eye-opening experience into thinking about your actions from another’s point of view. It was very refreshing to hear a man come straight out and say that men benefit from the patriarchal society that we live in at the disadvantage of women. It seems to be a subconscious thought that men might have, but don’t really address because it is hard to relinquish those benefits. I thought Davis’ openness and forwardness about situations that are uncomfortable to talk about really helped to open up the dialogue and push the audience to think about how they support the patriarchal system, often times without even realizing it. Most importantly, he challenged us to read up on these topics and to be active in calling it out when you see it.

    It is important that public figures like Davis to use their platform to make a positive change in this space because they are considered to be leaders in our society. When famous people lead, the public will follow. Also, these figures are the role models of so many citizens, so it is their duty to wield their power for equality. Someone needs to start these conversations about changing the fundamentals of our society, and public figures are the ones with the voices to do so.

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  4. I really enjoyed the keynote by Wade Davis about sexism, sexuality, self love, and the realization that we are all human. What made this so great was that at the very beginning he specified how it was more of a conversation than him just standing up there and speaking to us. He invited the audience to challenge anything he spoke about and asked questions throughout the keynote in order to engage people. One of my favorite things he talked about was how you are not an ally to anyone just because you say so. Being an ally takes action and not only when the oppressed group is watching. Truly being an ally means reading up on as much about the topic as possible and actively taking a stand for the oppressed group and the cause. Wade also gave great advice about how before we speak to someone about a certain issue that we believe in and want to stand against, we must really put ourselves in that persons position. During this time he interestingly enough pointed out how he was a black, gay man and yet he was probably the most privileged person in the room. For him to even have the conversation with us he added how he had to put himself in our shoes. He does this with every group he speaks to which makes it feel really authentic in a sense that he is not just standing there trying to change the way we think and tell us we are wrong.

    Overall Wade gave us many good tips about how we can be allies to women and members of the LGBT community. He spoke from a very truthful place when talking about how as a man you must first accept that you are sexist because of the how you were raised. Owning up to the fact that men have the most privilege and opportunity right now is the only way to make a change. Pushing it aside or acting as if you are better than it does not help and even pushes back on gender equality. Hopefully we can continue this conversation into the future so that it does not stop here.

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  5. I enjoyed this talk because it was a different kind of talk about inclusion and diversity. It was based on personal experiences and he was truthful about his own biases and only talked about things he knew how to talk about.I liked how he recognized that he was not perfect because he was human and he himself had biases about himself. I really admired how he was able to “own his own shit” and it was really motivational to see how he arrived at that moment of his life.
    Something that had a great impact on me was when he was talking about people being accomplices to the constant mistreatment of minorities. He said how if we stand there in silence without saying anything we are being accomplices, “silence is a sign of complicity”. I’ve sometimes found myself in situations where I really didn’t know how to react to a comment being made about someone, but I also realize that this is because I just don’t know how to respond. That’s why my biggest takeaway is that I was encouraged to read and get informed and not just ask questions because asking people is asking them to give up something really important to them. Overall, what most impacted me is that someone who belonged to the LGBT community was able to talk and own up so truthfully about his own biases towards the community. Owning up just moves us closer to gender equality.

    -Monica Redondo Moro

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  6. This event was truly eye opening by bringing up various pressing topics that we as college students sometimes feel uncomfortable discussing. I enjoyed Wade’s discussion on the importance of self-love. As college students we become so focused on our careers and academics that we negate ourselves and the attention we need. Wade also mentioned finding a routine for self-love whether that be meditation or doing something you are passionate about. By practicing self-love we learn to get rid of the “baggage” that we all carry around.

    I think it is important for public figures to use their platform to make a change because it helps those who might be dealing with similar issues realize that everyone else goes through the same problems. By having these public conversations and discussions, it breaks down the barriers of social constructs. By doing so ideas will continue to spread and positive differences can be made.

    Hannah Williams

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  7. I really enjoyed Wade Davis’s impactful talk about men as allies and using his male privilege to advocate for women. I never really thought about the small things he mentioned that men can do to make women feel more comfortable such as when walking at night if he is walking behind a woman he will speed up and walk ahead of her to make her feel more comfortable or in an elevator he will make sure he is in front of her so she doesn’t have to feel any anxiety. I found his perspective to be enlightening, and he made me feel really significant as a woman which was refreshing to hear. Furthermore, I really liked how Wade Davis would not answer any question of what women should do to help themselves advocate for one another and be allies to each other. I especially enjoyed his response of “I don’t tell women what to do,” as he is not a woman and thus does not know what it is like to be a woman. I really respect Wade Davis for all of his training work. I think that him using his privilege as a male is honorable to support women. I also think that it is so interesting to me how issues training to NFL teams and becomes “bros” with the athletes he is speaking to and shares that he is gay after an hour which begins a deeper conversation with these men and can hopefully open their eyes and hearts to viewing homosexuals with a new perspective. I think that it is very important for public figures to use their platform to make a positive difference in this space because in our society public figures receive so much clout, popularity, and attention and if they can use their privilege to point towards some of these social issues then they may be able to make even greater change.

    – Lauren Davis

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  8. Hearing Wade Davis speak was a great experience. He was effective, honest, and had meaningful stories to tell.
    I was really affected by Wade’s discussion of how men can work to be “brothers” to women and support them. He gave the examples of walking down a city street or standing alone in an elevator, and said that men need to understand that these can be nerve racking situations for women. He suggested that by simply standing in front of a woman in these scenarios, men can make a world of difference. I totally agreed with this and wish that men had done this whenever I have been in these situations. Hopefully the men in the room will take this into consideration in their own lives.
    I think it’s important that a public figure like Wade Davis, especially with his connections to national sports leagues, is vocal about these issues. More individuals with a celebrity platform need to use their positions to make a positive difference. There’s no denying that with a certain amount of fame comes more visibility, and more responsibility.
    – Amanda

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  9. Wade Davis was above all, authentic. Throughout his talk, he remained honest about his own shortcomings, using words like “we” and “us” to remind us that although he is aware, he is still a part of the larger problems. Often, we place public figures on a pedestal, thus distancing ourselves from them. Yet, when these same public figures advocate for social causes in a relatable manner, it reminds us that we are all the same. Therefore, it serves as motivation for us to also make a difference: if he can do it, why can’t I?

    I asked Wade Davis a question about what women can do to bring one another up. I was not expecting his answer, but it was the most humbling takeaway. He told me that he does not ever tell women what to do because he doesn’t know what it is like to be them. I respect his response immensely. He made me think about how I should never judge someone’s actions because I never really do know what his/her mindset is, what his/her experiences are.

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  10. I really enjoyed Wade Davis’ presentation. He was the perfect combination of seriousness and humor so that we were all impacted by his performance, but could also laugh and relate to it as well. Funny enough Roma’s question was one of the biggest takeaways that I had. She ask what women could do to help empower one another to which Wade responded he will never tell a women what to do because he doesn’t know what it is like to be a women. After just listening to the Men of Alliance speak it was interesting to hear because the audience probably expected some advice back or for a man to assume he knows, but Wade simply admitted that he did not know what to say because he did not know what it was like to be a woman. To me, this was the first comment that I’ve heard that really gave me hope that some men realize and are willing to admit that they don’t know all the answers. Going forward, I hope I can use what I’ve learned here towards men and never assume I know what the right answer is or what to say and hopefully this can help us towards equality.

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  11. I really enjoyed Wade Davis’s talk and I thought that his experiences and story was very eye opening to me. One particular takeaway that I had was his overall honestly throughout his talk. He admitted that he didn’t have all the answers and he was continuously working to better himself on issues regarding gender equality.

    I also really liked how he discussed his visits with NFL football players. He talks to them about gender equality and being a gay athlete before he even tells them he is gay. I feel like it is very important that speakers such as Wade Davis are talking to professional athletes because it helps break common stereotypes and creates understanding.

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  12. Wade Davis was really great to listen to. One thing that really resonated with me was every time Wade would say “it’s because I’m sexist. We’re all sexist.” It’s important to realize that no matter how open someone’s mind is or how much we understand a topic, we all have biases that were ingrained in us by society since we were children. There’s always room for improvement!

    It is so important that Wade uses his platform as a past professional football player to educate current athletes on the topic of social issues because, in turn, that makes the current athletes more comfortable identifying with anything he talks about. I saw this happen within my high school regarding feminism and Beyoncé. Most of the young women I talked to, although they agreed women should be treated equally, refused to identify themselves as feminists. Then, when Beyoncé started speaking on feminism, it became more acceptable, maybe even “cool,” to be a feminist. Seeing celebrities take a stance on social issues can be very empowering for the average person if they don’t know anybody close to them who believes in the same causes as them; seeing someone who is loved by many speak up and still receive love from fans can be very inspiring. Celebrities need to take advantage of the influence they can have and make others feel like it’s okay to believe what they believe.

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