During a recent company-wide team meeting, the topic of International Women’s Day came up. As a public relations company, we usually write a few editorials on the topic on behalf of our clients, and one under our own brand.
And I sighed with exhaustion.
Women are already exhausted from experiencing sexism in its plethora of forms, large and small, in the workplace, at home, with our friends, and in our communities.
On top of actually experiencing sexism, we then perform the emotional labour of explaining (and often defending) these experiences, and why it matters, sometimes on a daily basis.
And then each year for International Women’s Day, we have even more work added to our plates. We write editorials, we organise and attend events, we fight off internet trolls, and we take hours out of our already busy lives to create awareness about a problem we never asked for in the first place… and then we are usually the ones who clean up after it all.
It’s time for men to step up and perform this labour instead.
Gender inequality does not result from an unknown force working to the detriment of women and just so happening to privilege men.
Men are actively benefiting from gender inequality, be it from the fact women are performing almost twice as many hours of unpaid domestic labour compared to men in Australia (whether these women work full time or not), from the subconscious hiring bias that has seen men overrepresented in executive and well-paying roles for decades, and even from the fact that much of the world’s safety and other equipment is designed for men, at obvious risk to women’s health and safety.
Men benefit from this inequality, and they have also largely created and reinforced it over many hundreds of years. So finding a solution to this problem is thoroughly the responsibility of men. Men must be front and centre in fixing this.
And so, aside from this small piece, I’ve decided that this year the men in our office will be writing our IWD editorial.
The topic will revolve around how men can step up to address the issue of gender equality. And they can present it to me when it only needs minor edits, taking just mere minutes of my precious time.
The women, on the other hand, can have a paid day off.
And with all of our amazing clients who are also women, the men at Third Hemisphere will be doing some extra heavy lifting on that day to make sure they are showcased as heroes of feminism.
These might feel like baby steps when it comes to the time and energy reparations we owe to our exhausted women.
But it’s better than nothing – and it sure beats putting more work on women’s already overflowing plates.