By Gabriella Hill
Prominent male feminist Michael Kimmel came to the College on Wednesday, March 30, to speak about women in business and the role of men in the fight for gender equality.
Kimmel is a professor of sociology at Stony Brook University in New York, where he founded the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities in 2013. He is also the founder and editor of the academic journal “Men and Masculinities.”
Sponsored by the College’s Women in Business Club, Kimmel discussed the role of gender both in and out of the workplace. He also spoke about how and why men should be supportive of gender equality.
“We know that we cannot fully empower women without the support of men and boys,” Kimmel said in his opening line.
He then went on to describe the ways in which men typically think about gender equality and women’s oppression. Kimmel said men as a whole could be broken into five groups, ranging from those who understand that gender equality is right and fair but who do not actively fight for this equality to those who outwardly resist gender equality.
According to Kimmel, the latter group does not understand women’s oppression and, as such, rejects the notion that there is still work to be done in order to achieve gender equality. Unfortunately, Kimmel said most men fall into this category, which he attributed to the fact that gender is largely invisible to men.
“Privilege is invisible to those who have it,” Kimmel said. His lecture aimed to make men understand the need for gender equality and just how beneficial it can be for both women and men.
In addition to workplace inequality, Kimmel also discussed the changing dynamics in households. It used to be that men would go to work while women stayed home and took care of the children. Today, however, women are not solely responsible for childcare. Instead, more and more women are joining the professional field.
According to Kimmel, the key to a successful marriage is creating an atmosphere where both the men and women in a household feel that the workload is equal and that they are working together to ensure fairness.
“The more equal a marriage is, the more likely it is to survive,” Kimmel said.
In fact, men who share household chores with their wives have happier and healthier wives and children. They are also able to achieve higher levels of marital satisfaction, according to Kimmel.
“Balancing work and family is the only way men can get the life (they) want,” Kimmel said, before explaining that gender equality in and out of the workplace is a win-win for both men and women.
In his concluding remarks, Kimmel said, “Gender equality is not only about women, it is about everyone.”