In recent days, weeks and indeed months the ‘F’ (Feminism) word has been experiencing a lot of negative press. Similarly, the so called ‘PC brigade’ are being paraded as fun suckers and spoilers. We hear the masses, often fuelled by misinformed provocateurs, cry “how dare they spoil our traditions”.
The harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the reporting of inappropriate behaviour from some of the men who attended a recent charity dinner at the Presidents Club, and now the decisions by bosses from the British Darts Association and Formula One have created conversations, which in many ways, have completely gone ‘off point’.
Many of the ongoing harassment allegations have led many to suggest that Political Correctness has gone mad. Others have even suggested that men can’t even compliment a female now without fear of being accused of harassment”. Furthermore, it is Feminism that is being singled out as a social pariah, both by men and indeed many women.
What has been going on in our media feeds over recent weeks has really confused people, especially our young men and boys. Of course, men can still compliment another person, male or female. The conversations being had, are not communicating an end to being civil. We are social beings, we need connection. What we have seen in many of the harassment stories is far from civil.
To attack both Feminist and Pro-feminist folks in this way is simply, a form of shoot the messenger without really thinking about the bigger picture.
In a world where are boys are failing and our girls continue to experience high levels of harassment and abuse we need macro solutions to deal with some pretty macro problems. Just because this action as a response to the global issue of sexism and abuse seems small, does it mean we simply don’t do it?
The point I want to make here is not, to make the connections between events like the President’s Club and the decisions made by sports bosses, to the wider social issues, however I will point out that the whole #metoo movement highlights a world where women, often order their days to prevent abuse and harassment. Whilst the headlines have focused on celebrity victims it’s clear that its far bigger than that.
The point I want to make, centres on another possible reason for the decision made in both the darts and motor racing worlds.
Just for a second, I want you to think of a different reason why both Darts and F1 bosses have decided to move away from the use of woman to accompany darts players or to stand alongside vehicles on the grid on race day.
I want you to open your mind to the possibility that the reason, isn’t because these organisations are giving in to the ‘demands of Feminists’, it’s because men in leadership may be starting to act like leaders. This is quite a thought don’t you think? This is when I ask you to listen to understand and not simply reply.
Are we seeing men in the leadership positions, having their consciousness alerted by stories from likes of #metoo to the wider issues that are affecting people they care about? Just maybe?
How many fathers are looking at their daughters (and their sons) and thinking differently? We know the personal approach can change thinking.
I remember a scene from the David Schwimmer film ‘Trust’ in which the character played by Clive Owens starts to inspect his world as an advertising mogul, at the time that his daughter who has been sexually assaulted begins to disclose what had happened to her. He feels sickened by the images his company uses of women to sell everyday products. He makes a connection. His lens has altered, he can’t un-see it.
Leaders create the tone for their organisation. Maybe the use of women in this way isn’t the tone they want for their organisations. I talk a lot about how, when it comes to the prevention of abuse, male leadership is missing. Maybe, we are now seeing this leadership being demonstrated.
I feel for the many women who now find themselves not working for these sports organisations in the coming years. Yes, they have a right to work. If they feel empowered through these roles that’s a good thing surely? However, I do believe that to make the long term and sustainable differences we need to make in our society, we need to applaud the decisions made by both these organisations.
For some, these may be very clear and easy decisions to make. For others they will have been difficult ones. Sometimes as a person you have to go against the grain knowing there will be pushback.
This takes courage, this takes leadership.
Some, like the 40,000 people who have so far signed online petitions to reverse the ban, will continue to argue that these decisions are unfair and simply as a result of people giving into the demands of the few. When it comes to culture change, often the tool for the few is attrition. These few have been using this tool for a long time. It’s a long slog but one I believe in continuing. For the some, my request is to think wider on this issue. As I say above listen to understand, not to respond.
To the leadership of both Darts and Formula One I applaud your leadership and wish you well as you present your sports in a manner that communicates your values both as an organisation and as human beings.