I had the honor of emceeing the National Women’s Political Caucus 40th anniversary convention Good Guys Gala July 30th in Washington DC.
The Caucus started giving “Good Guys” awards back in 1971 as a way of recognizing and encouraging the then-rare men who joined in efforts to get women elected and appointed to political positions. Later, the great feminist and late Congresswoman Bella Abzug (D-NY) created an award to memorialize her supportive spouse, Martin–the Martin Abzug Supportive Spouse Award. I’m proud to say that my husband Alex Barbanell received this award a decade ago. In his acceptance speech, he revealed that he is my chief cook, bottle washer, and sex slave.
I couldn’t resist cracking a few jokes about how the selection process was difficult this year, with many fellows who were up for consideration but fell short of our expectations. Like Anthony Weiner– such an advocate for women’s rights, what a bright future he had, and when we told him he was in contention for a good guys award, he texted us back right way to say how excited he was. At least we think that was his, um, text.
But on a serious note, profound change has clearly occurred during the 40 years of NWPC’s existence. Good Guy awards have come to feel like an anachronism.
A “good guy” used to be a man who “helped,”like taking out the garbage or washing the dishes every once in a while. Today it’s understood that there’s a partnership in bringing home the bacon and frying it up. And men who champion women’s equality are no longer unusual. Progress has sometimes been slow, but really, the NWPC along with other second wave feminist groups, started a revolution that has changed the world. And in addition to the big social shifts, there’s a generation of men now who have been raised by feminist moms; for them gender equality and parity are “just the way things are.”
So this week’s Friday Round Up includes a highlight of some of my own self-selected Good Guys and a trend article on the meaning of such profound change.
Jimmie Briggs is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Man Up – the global campaign to stop violence against women and girls. Briggs is an award winning journalist, author and teacher. Most recently, along with their alliance with Project Girl Performance Collective, their efforts were featured on the PBS New Hour’s “GirlUp Campaign Helps Teen Empower Peers Around the Globe”. For more on the Man Up campaign, check out their presence on Facebook @ManUpCampaign.org
Ben Atherton-Zeman, spokesman for the National Organization for Men Against Sexism and a public speaker on issues of violence prevention, presents his one-man play “Voices of Men” which uses humor and celebrity male voice impressions to educate audiences about sexual assault, domestic violence and other forms of men’s violence against women.
And last, but certainly not least on the Good Guy list is Dr. Michael Kimmel who was recently a speaker at the 2011 AAUW Convention as a part of a discussion about work-life balance and men’s role in transforming the 21st Century workplace. Dr. Kimmel is among the world’s leading experts on men and masculinity. Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, he is the author or editor of more than 20 books. He also consults with various organizations all over the world on gender equity issues, including work-family balance, reducing workplace discrimination, and promoting diversity.
Not surprisingly with all these changes come studies that find men starting to deal with the same stresses and life balance issues that women have faced all along. Check out Suzanne Braun Levine’s exclusive for the Women’s Media Center, “Enough Mystiques to Go Around and This One Is Masculine”.
I closed the Good Guys Awards with this Sojourner Truth quote. In her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron OH, the famous abolitionist, women’s rights advocate, and Methodist minister asserted: “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together (I took poetic license and added ‘along with the good guys we’ve honored here tonight’) ought to be able to get it right side up again.”
We have a lot more work to do. Let’s get on with it.
What are your thoughts on the state of men and masculinity today? Please share here. And feel free to nominate your own Good Guys.