Current Events Provides the Spark
One day last July I was reading a news story about a male harming a female.
I’d read so many similar stories during that period that I can’t even remember the details of that particular story. I just recall that it was another in a seemingly endless string of stories about a male throwing acid in a female’s face, or raping a female, or vilifying a female on social media, or raping a female and then vilifying her on social media, or firing a female for legal (!) but purely sexist reasons
And that’s when it hit me: stories like this, stories about males using their power—physical, social, political, economic—to systematically subjugate females had become usual, commonplace.
There were several notable incidents that July, there were several the previous month, and the month before that. And I was certain that there would be many more in the upcoming months (there were). I suddenly found myself getting frustrated about the issue of sexism in a way and to a degree that I never had before.
Frustration Provides the Motivation
I found this situation frustrating because these behaviors are completely unnecessary and are extraordinarily harmful. I got frustrated because they’re motivated by arrogance, selfishness, entitlement, and tribalism. As if that wasn’t enough, they’re underpinned by the willfully misguided belief that males are superior to females. These behaviors represent the worst of humanity; more pointedly, they represent the worst of masculinity.
I got so frustrated that I decided right then that I needed to do something meaningful to stop this behavior. My solution was to create an organization dedicated to helping transform America into a society that values and nurtures gender equality.
A Need for Innovation Drives Imagination
While I knew other organizations shared that mission, the prevalence of these stories made it clear that the needs of our girls—for safety, for opportunity, for achievement, for happiness—were not being met.
I found that troubling because in the previous hundred years there had been four feminist movements and plenty of legal—and real world—victories for females. And yet, the fundamental belief held by males that they are superior to women still existed, and that belief is arguably just as strong and pervasive now as it was a century ago.
That was not only troubling, it was also baffling. Why, after fighting sexism for over a century, was it still a widely held, and in many cases deep-seated, belief? Old habits—or beliefs—die hard, I guess, especially when they give a specific person or group of people most, and sometimes even all, of the power.
I knew that males naturally resist giving up their directly or indirectly obtained privilege, but if a century of feminism has made so little difference on the collective male belief system regarding women, then clearly a different approach would be needed if a new organization expected to make a meaningful difference in moving America toward a society that valued females on par with males. It would require an innovative approach employing unique methods.
A Winning Combination Provides the Innovation
In the end, after all the research and program development was done, GenderEqual’s innovative approach comes not from any one program component. Classroom presentations? Already been done. Using athletics to teach skills and boost self-confidence? Already been done. Enlisting the help of celebrities to increase awareness of the cause and a charity? Already been done.
Instead, innovation was achieved through the combination of the program’s components, including research-proven methods of overcoming discrimination in general and sexism specifically.
Most importantly, we adopted a philosophy from an award-winning cancer charity that allows our children to leverages their web and social media savvy to make meaningful progress in changing the beliefs—and by extension the attitudes and behaviors—of adults regarding, in our case, gender bias.
The result is a gender equality initiative that’s capable of achieving the goal of transforming America into a society that not only treats females as equals, but one whose fundamental belief system values females as equals.