A note from Amy, about Ask Amy…
Tribe of Women unofficially started in 2014 after my TEDx Talk “I Believe in Tribes of Women” after which I started digging deeper and asking YOU the question – “Why do we need tribes of women?” I knew what it meant to me, but I wanted to know what it was (or wasn’t) for you. A couple of years later, I started Tribe of Women, and now here we are! During the time I have been asking questions, I’ve also been gathering answers. “Ask Amy” is based on your common (and ongoing) questions, and mine. These answers are a culmination of where we have arrived on this journey. Together.
How or Why do we include men in conversations about equality?
Yup. This is one of the common ones! People are attracted to and intrigued by “Tribe of Women”. If they don’t know much about us, I get questions like:
- “Men want to help as well. Why don’t you include us?”
- “If women have their own spaces/meetings/clubs, why can’t men?”
If they do ask, “Oooo. What’s that!?” and I say, “We build cultures of women supporting women and more good men”, it doesn’t take long for:
- “Why would/do you include men in Tribe of Women?”
- “Why should we include men when we have been excluded for so long?”
I want to begin by referencing a few of my favorite good men organizations. One of the things that men have to face again and again is, “The Man Box,” the stereotypes of what a man should or shouldn’t be. There’s a wonderful organization called Catalyst, focused on “workplaces that work for women”. Some of their research addresses the man box as part of the equation of inequity and inequality. And I agree! The stereotypes of what a man should or shouldn’t be are just as limited as who we should and should not be as women. Another organization started by a good man, Tony Porter, is “A Call to Men. “ It began after his TED Talk and works to break down the components of a “man box” and help men break free of it.
So, “why do we (Tribe of Women) include in men in conversations about equality?” Like many-a powerful thing, it begins with my favorite F word – Feminism. Feminism, despite its name, is not just for my fellow “females”. Feminism is for everyone, because feminism is about choice. That’s right. We don’t want to be in a box about whether we go to work or stay home, wear pants instead of a skirt (it was not so long ago, ladies), or become a doctor instead of a nurse. When women have this choice without judgment, it opens up the door for men to have choices as well (without being called “m-urses” for, pity’s sake).
Not that long ago, there was no choice in this matter. Women stayed home, and men went to work. You didn’t hear about “stay-at-home dads.” Remember the 80’s film “Mr. Mom”? A comedy about a man staying home with the kids. It was a comedy, of course! Who’d ever heard of a man taking care of home and family!? Haha!!!… That was only 30 years ago, friends.
When I’m asked about the exclusivity of a group of men or women coming together, I say, “Yes, and.” And what I mean by that is – Yes, women need safe places to connect and empathize with one another, to put it all on the table so we can deal with it. As Michelle Obama says, “Women straighten each other out on some things,” – that’s what those safe places for women are there for – a place where we can sort out our mess and work through it. The problem seen is a problem solved.
Now for the men, I want to finish that quote from the lovely Michelle, “Women straighten each other out on some things… But y’all (men) need to go talk to each other about your stuff. Talk about why you are the way you are.” So Yes, women need exclusive places to sort things out, And, men should do the same! Get together and sort out your stuff as well. Yes, we need exclusivity in some respects, And, we need to continue coming together because it is in our time together where we build empathy, compassion for one another.
I think it’s very important that women have places where we can be exclusive and talk about things that only women have to deal with. Women need places to work out our stuff and figure out how to navigate and support one another, and men do too. Men need to have spaces where they can discuss the “man box,” talk about paternity leave, showing emotion, and being partners, fathers, men in the world. Then, we can come together, feeling confident and comfortable sharing our whole selves. (Have you seen “Man Enough”!? That. Do that!)
Tribe of Human
Ultimately, when I get asked specifically about why “more good men” is a part of our mission statement, it’s because our vision is Tribe of Human: a tribe that listens to one another and cooperates through empathy, sympathy, and compassion. At Tribe of Women, our goal is to create places where women can be fully themselves. And that means men can be fully themselves, too. One of the things we say a lot is that when we celebrate good men (when we see it, point it out, and cheer it on), there will be more. We include men in our conversations about equality because women finding our place at the table does not mean pushing men out. We include men in our conversations about equality because it’s through these conversations that men and women alike will find a way to share who we are, empathize, show compassion and get one step closer to our ultimate goal – Tribe of Human.
I still have questions! And I bet you do, too. Please send them directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ask Amy” in the subject line and we’ll keep the conversations going. Together.