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Guys, Let’s Talk!

By October 14, 2020No Comments
Guys, Let's Talk!

By Shari Karney, Esq.


I know, for many, this was last week’s news in this crazy COVID, election, Amy Coney Barrett (speaking in her best little girl voice tone) news cycle. But it’s still haunting me because it was the perfect microcosm of women’s daily experience.

If a man isn’t going to hear a woman when she’s talking, he’s not going to hear her when she screams or says “no” to sex. Rape is not only about control. It’s also about not listening and not caring.

A Forbes article I read points out the issues of men not listening to women very clearly. Although more passive-aggressive and pointed than Trump’s conduct during the President debate, Vice President Pence “barely acknowledged that Senator Harris was even in the room”1 during the VP Debate. One commentator said that “Pence showed up, did whatever the hell he wanted for ninety minutes, and left.”1

Unfortunately, this was a scene I have experienced countless times. I faced the same gender discrimination as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Attending law school was both an opportunity and a horrifying experience being in the first class to have a significant number of women students. A professor sexually assaulted me as a first-year law student. Professors felt women were taking away the seats of serious male students who would have families to support. Judges treated us like second-class citizens. I was thrown out of court one day for wearing a black pant suit. The judge barked, “Go home, and come back dressed like a woman!” I did go home to change my clothes. But unbeknownst to me, so did my male colleagues. Everybody came back to court the next day wearing a dress.

The support from those male colleagues was greatly appreciated and showed me that men could stand up against what is considered unfair treatment of women. The article noted, “Men, as a rule, don’t act like they respect women.”1 Because, well, most men don’t. But you can.

“There are, as far as I have seen, two things at play: men are encouraged from childhood to push their ideas and desires forthrightly and aggressively, while women are encouraged to shrink into ourselves, to be quiet, to defer.”1

The article hit the nail squarely on the head: We aren’t born this way; we are taught our “gender roles” in childhood. This isn’t about blaming anyone. It’s about overcoming our programming, which starts with a pink or blue headband immediately after birth.

As the article explains, “Speaking over women, pushing them out of the conversation, and failing to acknowledge our contributions need not be intentional to effectively silence women. … A lot of women have given up trying, because we are so often ignored or belittled as a result. Or penalized for speaking up.”1


Men, You Could Do So Much Good

As a man, aware of the deeply embedded programming of gender roles, you can be the change that opens to a wider, more fulfilling discussion. Let women talk. Listen to what women have to say. Start a dialogue. Call out other men who are being disrespectful to a woman. Women respect and appreciate a man who allows them to have a voice and to be treated fairly.

Be that man.



1  Liz Elting, Guys, If You Think Pence Was Rude To Kamala, I Have Bad News, Forbes, Oct 14, 2020,10:00am EDT,